Cambodian Launches New Weekly Newspaper

Cambodia News, an eight-page Khmer- and English-language news­paper managed by Cambo­dians, hit the newsstands for the first time on Tuesday.
The weekly newspaper, run by former Reuters reporter Chhay So­phal, featured five pages in Khmer and three in English. Most stories had already received coverage by other local papers.
Chhay Sophal, who is editor-in-chief, said he hopes to give readers an independent, neutral news source—one modeled after reputable newspapers like The Wash­ing­ton Post and the International Herald Tribune.
He said it will be a challenge to beat daily local papers to the top stories. “Our paper will try to get scoops and cook the old stories to make them new by reporting them from new angles,” he said.
“Sam Rainsy Might Face Mil­itary Court” was the top story for Tuesday’s edition, followed by coverage of the recent Global Witness controversy. Other headlines included “Movie Filmed in Cambodia To Be Shown US This Month” and “Sweden To Employ Cambodians With Digital Tech­nol­ogy for AIDS.”
Cambodia News hopes to “commercially” challenge more es­tablished Khmer-language newspapers, Chhay Sophal said. He said the paper is not being funded by private individuals or corporations and should cost about $1,000 per month to operate. He said  about $5,000 of his own money was spent to buy computers, photocopiers and other equipment to get the paper off the ground.
“We run this paper on our own money. If we go broke, we will pause it for awhile…. Our survival will be based on advertising,” he said. “This will also show the outside world that Cambodian journalists know how to run a paper based on professional ethics and not just political patronage.”
The style and content of Cam­bodia News will be evolving, he said. But not much international news will be featured because “our paper is Cambodian, as the name says.”
Chhay Sophal conceded that the newspaper’s English is not perfect and added that the newspaper is his sideline occupation. He also works for the Media Expansion Project, which is backed by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the European Union.
Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Infor­mation, said Tuesday he welcomed the new publication.
“The more papers we have, the better it will be for media literacy,” he said. “When there are more papers, Cambodian readers find out more about which papers they can trust.”

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