Journalists at a media conference in Phnom Penh Friday praised the large number of newspapers, magazines and radio and television stations in Cambodia, but condemned the media industry generally for a lack of quality, professionalism or consistent code of ethics.
Minister of Information Lu Laysreng said there are more than 250 newspapers and magazines registered in Cambodia, as well as nine television stations and 18 radio stations.
He emphasized the role of the media in a democratic country, saying: “Nowadays we encounter great crisis, but I take no measures to prevent you from exercising freedom of the press.”
Speakers said press freedoms have decreased since the Untac period. The quality of newspapers and magazines has further eroded due to misunderstandings between officials and politicians, and has included unethical behavior such as blackmail, selling information, extortion, self-censorship and bribery.
Cambodian journalists need more training, said Sek Borisoth, who praised newspapers for what he said was improved performance. He notes there have been fewer stories about sex on the inside pages.
Neou Kassie, vice president of the National Elections Committee, said a democratic country must have a free press. “No free press, no freedom and no democratic voice,” he said. But he added: “Free press must have responsibility—truth, justice and a balanced opinion.”
Princess Norodom Vachara, a parliamentarian, hailed a free press in Cambodia, but urged responsibility. “Please write [with] neutrally,” she said.