French News Site Moribund, May End Operations Next Month

After 1,440 articles and nearly two years of operations, Ka-Set, the French, Khmer and English news website launched as an independent francophone news source for Cambodia, will likely cease operations at the close of November, its founders said Friday.

Founded by former employees of the daily French-language newspaper Cambodge Soir, which was dissolved in June 2007 after editorial staff walked out to protest a colleague’s politicized firing, the website is now insolvent and has posted no new content since Sept 11.

“The site is still visible, but it is no longer living,” said photographer John Vink, who served as the site’s co-director, photo editor, administrator and accountant.

Designed to attract readers both in Cambodia and among the global diaspora of Cambodian emigres, Ka-Set produced a steady diet of features and provided daily coverage of the trial of former Tuol Sleng chairman Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch.

Human Rights Watch in June of last year gave its Hellman/Ham­mett Writers Award for courage in the face of political persecution to two Ka-Set reporters, Chheang Bo­pha and Duong Sokha. The award was given partly in recognition of their principled stance in the labor dispute at Cambodge Soir, which reemerged in October, 2007 as “Cambodge Soir Hebdo,” which is now published once a week.

Mr Vink said that Ka-Set fell on hard times due in part to its un­workable business plan, which had not allowed enough time for Ka-Set to become profitable.

Some possibilities exist for the site to return to life, including re­forming the staff with new partners who have yet to be identified, according to Mr Vink.

“I am sorry. We made management errors because we are not managers,” he said, adding that a search for new financial backers had also been unsuccessful.

“After a year, there are no takers,” he said.

Stephanie Gee, the site’s former editor-in-chief, said that she hoped to return to the Khmer Rouge tribunal in the second half of Nov­ember to cover the week of final arguments in the Duch trial for Ka-Set.

 

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