New Media Directive Draws Mixed Reactions

Reaction was mixed Tuesday to the Ministry of Information’s statement released Monday evening directing radio and TV stations to cease commenting on newspaper articles read over the air.

Some said the directive would draw a clearer line between commentary and news, which most agreed is necessary. But others worried that the government was overstepping its bounds, attempting to mandate ethics and perhaps impinge on press freedoms.

Norbert Klein, editor of the Mir­ror, a weekly review of the Khmer-language press, said he was surprised by the statement but added that he supported any attempts to draw a clearer line be­tween news and commentary in Kh­mer media.

“The concern about who said what and who is adding to it is im­portant,” Klein said. “Very often in the Cambodian press it is not clear when a quote begins, when it ends.”

Susan Lavery, deputy director for Southeast Asia at Radio Free Asia, said she agreed that making a clear distinction between news and commentary was good, but worried about the directive’s broad sweep.

“To stop all commentaries on the basis of ‘gee, it might cause confusion to the listeners,’ is not a good approach,” she said. “Com­men­tators may be very wise or they may be very foolish, but ultimately it is up to the viewers—not the government—to decide.

“Ethics are not the same things as the law,” she added. “They’re not something that can be mandated.”

Chum Kanal, president of the League of Cambodian Journal­ists, said he supported the measure.

“Reading newspaper articles without permission is a violation of newspapers’ rights,” he said. “TV and radio stations should cover the news themselves.”

An official at the Cambodian As­sociation for the Protection of Journalists said he, too, supported the measure.

“Radio commentators exaggerate, add words that change the sense of the article,” he said, citing the example of an article about a car crash in which the com­men­tator suggested the drivers were drunk.

(Additional reporting by Prak Chan Thul)



Related Stories

Latest News