Khmer-language newspaper Somne Thmey will cut back to publishing one edition per week instead of five after the Asia Foundation ended funding to the paper last month, staff said Tuesday.
Established to provide provincial news for residents of Kompong Cham, Battambang and Siem Reap provinces as well as Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, the paper began publishing in June 2004, Somne Thmey’s Editor in Chief Pen Bona said .
Five reporters were laid off as a result of the funding termination, Pen Bona said, adding that the paper will now survive by selling advertisements and subscriptions to readers.
Veronique Salze-Lozac’h, Asia Foundation’s regional director for economic programs, said the paper should be able to survive without the foundation’s help.
“There is no more financing and the first objective was to have the newspaper run by itself after a few years,” she said.
The paper’s publisher, Sebastien Drans, said the Asia Foundation spent about $300,000 on the project and he hopes other NGOs will step forward to help.
“The donor we had before is not in a position of being able to support us anymore,” Drans said, though he was confident advertisements and subscriptions would keep the paper alive.
Former reporter May Titthara said the laid off reporters were upset by the move.
“We don’t want the funding cut like this because it affects employees,” he said.