4 New Khmer Newspapers Debut in Provinces

Four new weekly Khmer-language newspapers covering the provinces of Battambang, Siem Reap, Kompong Cham and the municipality of Sihanoukville debuted on provincial newsstands this week.

All titled Somne Thmey (New Writing), the publications were embraced by provincial officials this week who applauded the newspapers’ efforts to cover the areas outside Phnom Penh.

The four papers are funded by a $200,000 Asia Foundation grant to the private media monitoring company Media Consulting and Develop­ment.

Battambang’s top stories discussed the province’s water supply, its weakening rice mill community and an increase in child rapes. The Kompong Cham newspaper focused on drought and decreasing local fish catches. And Siem Reap’s main story was on the possible reduction of poverty through tourism. The papers sell for $0.25 each.

“It’s good to have a newspaper in my province for freedom of expression,” said Chap Nhaly­voud, governor of Siem Reap. “As long as the newspaper acts professionally,” he added.

Although celebrations for the Queen’s birthday on the Friday before the launch closed several businesses—including the  newspapers’ printer—the debut took place without a hitch, said Seba­stien Drans, director of Media Consulting and Develop­ment, which runs the publications.

All the reporting is done in the provinces, but the newspapers are edited and printed in Phnom Penh, Drans said.

“The main focus is on the provinces,” he said Tuesday.

Somne Thmey reporters recently attended a two month training session to brush up on journalism skills and become familiar with the issues affecting their coverage areas, Drans said.

Minister of Information Lu Laysreng said he was surprised that four newspapers were launched at the same time.

“It’s usually hard to start even one new paper because it is so expensive,” he said Tuesday, adding that he had not yet read the publications and could not comment on them.

(Additional reporting by Kim Chan)


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