Journalists will start training next month for four new provincial newspapers expected to begin in June, according to the private media monitoring business heading the project.
The weekly papers will cover the provinces of Siem Reap, Battambang and Kompong Cham, as well as Sihanoukville municipality, said Sebastien Drans, director of Media Consulting and Development.
“The provinces have an identity and they need to be informed—not just about Phnom Penh,” Drans said. “[These four] provinces are representative of the main issues. They are big, have more readers, more advertisers and are generally better equipped.”
MC&D is planning to start the papers with a $200,000 grant from The Asia Foundation. After securing funds, the next step was to find people to work for the newspapers, which will be written in Khmer, Drans said.
“Most of them are young journalists,” he said. “We wanted people who would be receptive to this type of journalism.”
Younger, beginning journalists showed more interest in working outside the capital, he said.
But there is a need for these journalists to have more training, Drans said. Next month will mark the beginning of a two-month program touching on basic journalistic and technical skills.
In addition, “we will bring in people from the government and civil society to talk about the issues and who is in charge,” Drans said.
Although Cambodians will make up the newspapers’ editorial staffs, some foreigners will be included as mentors. Francois Gerles, deputy editor of French-language newspaper Cambodge Soir, and Arnaub Roux, media advisor of MC&D, will act as part-time advisors for the new publications.
“I’ve spent about eight years in Cambodia and I know a little about the Khmer press,” Gerles said. “There is definitely a lack of news in the provinces. The people want news about themselves and this is a good opportunity.”
Although reporting and distribution will take place in the provinces, the newspapers will be edited and printed in Phnom Penh.