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Working group to assess media freedom through local lenses

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
UJFC president Huy Vannak. KT/Khem Sovannara

The Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia has established a working group tasked with promoting media freedom and evaluating content to foster quality journalism in the Kingdom.

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The UJFC in a statement on Tuesday said the working group is dubbed the Cambodian Committee for Media Assessment and was established during a recent union congress.

It said the CCMA is the first of its kind in the Kingdom and will play a role in strengthening reporting quality, creating an open forum for journalists and promoting a culture of dialogue and understanding.

“As journalists and citizens of a nation, we should not keep silent and only read biased reports of foreign [news] agencies who are evaluating the Kingdom’s state of journalism using their principles while overlooking immediate domestic issues,” UJFC president Huy Vannak said yesterday.

Mr Vannak said media professionals must first rely on independently investigated facts before making comparisons to reports by foreign agencies to find factual integrity.

“We recognise that professional journalism and free press are vital in society, along with good governance and broadened democratic space,” he said. “UJFC has high hopes that Cambodian journalists will join in this mission to promote Cambodian media with local principles and global action.”

The UJFC statement said the working group is opened to professional journalists working in print and broadcasting industries.

Its first order of business is to recruit and brief members by January. It will then draft a report assessing the current state of media freedom in the Kingdom. The report will be published at the end of April 2021.

Information Ministry spokesman Ouk Kimseng yesterday said he welcomes the establishment of the CCMA.

Mr Kimseng said the working group will help identify challenges that Cambodian journalists have encountered.

“It’s a good move for local journalists to conduct their own assessment on press freedom,” he said. “They are the ones who perform in the media so they are better informed about media space in the country.”

Mr Kimseng said he was happy to hear the assessment will reflect facts in the Kingdom.

Moeun Chhean Narith, director of Cambodia Institute for Media Studies, yesterday said the working group must carry out its work through receiving feedback from relevant stakeholders.

“I think journalists alone would not be able to conduct a comprehensive report on media freedom – there should be cooperation between media organisations, government officials and civil society groups,” Mr Chhean Narith said.

Earlier this year, Reporters without Borders ranked Cambodia 143 out of 180 countries in its 2019 Press Freedom Index. Information Minister Khieu Kanharith on October 12 said the ranking was conducted in an unprofessional way because it was compiled by non-journalists.

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