Report on 7th Editors' Forum

8887th Editors’ Forum “ New Era Media Industry of Cambodia ”

Phnom Penh (22 October, 2010): With support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) on Friday organized an Editors’ Forum on “New Era Media Industry of Cambodia”. It is the 7th forum conducted by CCJ.

Speaking in her opening remarks at the forum, Rabea Brauer, KAS-Cambodia representative, said the forum provides the freedom of the press and free speech in Cambodia. She said the topic is very timely when the media has not only changed not that is not only a change in Cambodia but also a  in Asia.

She believed that the discussion would be lively and the results of the discussion could be a unity of voice of professional media to protect media rights and put Cambodia into the right direction.

The forum was attended by over 40 editors-in-chief, editors, media organization directors from newspapers, magazines, radio TV stations, and online media.

Sharing  his view in his session on “Editors’ points of view on the media situation 2010: Freedom, Professionalism and Ways Forward”, Mr. Kay Kimsong, Editor-in-Chief of Phnom Penh Post newspaper in Khmer section, said the Cambodian media situation is much better if compared with 10 years ago. He noted that even though there has recently not been any journalist gunned down like the previous years some journalists have been arrested and detained due to both their professional and unprofessional works. Some local journalists, he said, played their roles beyond the media profession and they acted like they are the authorities or courts. He also urged journalists to improve their capacity and strengthen their media profession.

Mr. Pen Samitthy, Editor-in-Chief of an online news www.cen,com.kh, agreed with Mr. Kay Kimsong and said that Traditional Media is now much competing with New Media.  While traditional media have to integrate itself with New Media, he said, ethics must be followed by the New Media so that it can avoid any privacy invasion and causing other problems such as incitement of racial and religious conflicts and causing national insecurity.
Three other speakers from a local newspaper (Koh Santepheap), Nokor Wat radio station, and CNT TV station also have similar ideas and they urged the government to have a law on access to information, and to use the press law to deal with all cases which are involved with the journalists.
The 7th Editors’ Forum wended successfully and 40 Editors-in-Chief and representatives of print, broadcast, and online media signed a joint statement. Below is the full content of the statement.

Today, 22 October, 2010, in Phnom Penh, we are 40 Editors-in-Chief, and representatives of print, broadcast, and online media (as listed in the attached signed joint-statement) gathered together at the 7th Editors’ Forum of Cambodia to discuss a key topic on “New Era Media Industry of Cambodia”

Through our discussion, the Editors’ Forum of Cambodia wrapped up views, experiences, and recommendations as follows:

1. the New Era media industry of Cambodia will depend on some factors: a relation between media and the existing laws and the draft laws which are waiting for the approval (penal code, broadcasting draft law and draft law on access to information,..), the relation between Traditional Media and New Media, and the relation between journalists and journalists, including between media owners and media owners.

2. In the relation between the media and the existing laws and the upcoming laws
the Editors’ Forum of Cambodia noted that:
2.1. All media organizations and associations must have a joint potential mechanism which can mobilize the needs of all journalists and fulfill the role to monitor, participate and debate in the law-making process so as to insure that the interest of journalists will be taken into account.
2.2. During drafting and proposing new laws which are pertained to media or freedom of expression, the Editors’ Forum of Cambodia asks the relevant institutions to consult by all means with the Cambodian media organizations and associations.

3.   In the relation between Traditional Media and New Media, the Editors’ Forum of Cambodia notes that the latter brings about both advantages and challenges: Traditional Media has not yet seen the importance of its integration with New Media while ethics becomes is being aa big concern for the New Media.

4. New Media — the interaction of computer, information technology, digitalization, especially internet for Traditional Media such as on image, words, writing,..— made, and is making progress potentially in Cambodia.

The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia agrees that the difference between New Media and Traditional Media is not because of its digital content but its interaction with news readers, listeners and viewers.
Thus, the appearance of  news content in a digital TV can not be considered as New Media but the use of analogue system  or poster providing websites for readers, listeners and viewers who are seeking news or downloading what they need is a reflection of New Media.

5. Printing, distributing, and the contents of Traditional Media that New Media can use, establish, and provide to communities and the public is full of promise for  “Democratization” and shall be fully and timely understood. The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia encourages the Cambodian media institutions, media organizations, and journalist clubs to join together to train human resources in their institutions and in the society in order to assure that the products made by New Media are ethical and of the benefit of the whole society.

The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia also expects that through training programs, Traditional Media and New Media will co-exist and will potentially interact to make the media to become the fourth estate in the society.

6. The emergence  of New Media has provided opportunities and challenges requiring media people to not only self-educate to benefit from New Media but it is also important for them to be careful in using new media, like websites or blogs, as their news sources in order to assure to be they about the new news accuracy or to avoid disseminating untrue information which can affect the interest of the public, spc society, and the nation.

7. When media provide opportunities to all people to be able to become citizen journalists who can upload news articles and pictures on internet for all people in the world, experiences in many countries indicate that privacy invasion and other problems also simultaneously arise.
The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia, therefore, would like to appeal to all citizen journalists and those who use New Media to avoid outreaching information affecting dignity of other people, inciting chaos, racial or religious hatred, or provoking national insecurity.

8. The relation among media owners has no a negative note but it has not yet been strengthened in order to get much higher benefits. In this regard, the Editors’ Forum of Cambodia appeals to the media owners to directly join the media organizations, associations and clubs with all means for the common interest of the media industry, and particularly for the interests of their respective businesses in this industry.

9. The relation among the media owners has not yet reached any establishment of their association and the lack of a joint mechanism has sometimes created some unhappy phenomenon such as the way of competition, the way of coping with the influence of advertisement on news integrity, or the declining readership
The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia calls on Cambodia’s media owners to join together to establish their organization or association in order to join with other media organizations, associations or clubs to find out a strategy which pushes for a dynamic media industry.

10. The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia agrees that
Sees that the relation among journalists has been improved year on a year-by-year basis but the relation can be much stronger if all of journalist associations in Cambodia have a better communication mechanism.

This initiative was raised in the 6th Editors’ Forum of Cambodia but no progress has been made.
The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia at this time would like to remind of the spirit in the 6th Editors’ Forum of Cambodia which asked for a coordinating mechanism through which the journalist associations can cooperate on some crucial issues such as protection of journalists, being representative at the regional and international stage, and media advocacy on important issues.

11. The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia also urges the Cambodian journalists to strengthen their professional capacity, to respect the ethics, and to abide by the press law; and [The Editors’ Forum of Cambodia] would like to appeal to all media institutions and individuals to continuously strengthen their solidarity to reach a higher level; and, if possible, [they] must avoid filing lawsuits against each others.

At the same time, the Editors’ Forum of Cambodia strongly appeals that the competent authorities shall properly perform their duty in accordance with the existing laws when they deal with the lawsuits against the media organizations or the journalists.