Robert Bingham, a major part of The Cambodia Daily in the early years and a contributing editor, died Sunday at his home in New York City. He was 33.
Bingham came to Cambodia on vacation in 1993 when he met the newspaper’s first two editors, Barton Biggs and Robin McDowell, who had begun putting out the paper in the Renakse Hotel.
Bingham, who had worked as a police reporter at the Nashville Tennessean, offered his time and bought some equipment for The Daily. Since then he has been involved with the paper as a reporter and contributing editor, visiting Cambodia once or twice a year.
Bingham also wrote fiction and essays. He helped found and edit Open City, a literary magazine. His collection of short stories called “Pure Slaughter Value” was published in 1997 by Doubleday Broadway. His first novel, “Lightening on the Sun,” is scheduled to be released by the same publishing house in May.
He comes from an illustrious newspaper publishing family in the US state of Kentucky, which owned The Courier-Journal and the Louisville Times.
He graduated from Brown University in the state of Rhode Island in 1988 and received a masters of fine arts degree from Columbia University in New York City in 1994.
The cause of death is under investigation, said Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the Office of New York City’s Chief Medical Examiner. The police said they found no signs of foul play.
Friends here remember Bingham as a generous man who helped the poor.
“During the [March 1997] grenade attack in front of the National Assembly, he and I went to the hospitals to help the victims,” said Saing Soenthrith, a Cambodia Daily reporter. “He gave money to help the victims’ families.”
Ek Madra, a former Daily reporter who now works for Reuters news agency, said Bingham taught him how to be a journalist. “He was the first American to be a bridge for me on how to be a reporter,” he said.
A memorial service will be held for him here on Friday morning at Wat Botum. On Sunday, a memorial service will take place in Manhattan at Calvary Episcopal Church.
He is survived by his wife, Vanessa Chase, who he married in May; his mother Joan Bingham; and his sister Clara Bingham.
(Additional reporting by The New York Times)