UN Official: Media Improving

Cambodia’s print media has made significant progress in the past few years, writing more balanced stories and limiting sexy stor­ies and profanity.

That assessment was offered by Supote Prasertsri, education program officer with the UN Educa­tional, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

“As far as the Cambodian press today is concerned, the general description is ‘chaotically free’ with all shades of opinion represented,” he said, adding Cambodia’s free press “is one of the strongest and fastest-growing in the region.”

But in other areas, there is much room for improvement, he said. Due to low literacy levels, most Cambodians get their information from radio and TV, which emphasizes entertainment and official news, rather than independent news.

“They provide mostly one-way communication from the top leadership down to the grass roots and not vice-versa, a move which is not in conformity with democratic principles,” Supote Prasertsri said, adding his hopes that broadcast news “will be gradually improved, just like the print media.”

The Unesco official was one of five speakers on Friday to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, one of five journalism organizations active in Cambodia.

Other speakers included Peter Koppinger of the Konrad Ade­nauer Foundation; British Ambas­sador Stephen Bridges; and, from the CCJ, president Pen Samitthy and secretary-general Prach Sim.

Supote Prasertsri said it is an encouraging sign that no Cam­bodian journalist has been killed since 1998. He quoted a speech by Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of Unesco, on World Press Free­dom Day:

“A free press is not a luxury. A free press is at the absolute core of equitable development.”

As nations around the world take advantage of the new information technologies, Koichiro Matsuura’s speech warned, it is important that the developing world benefit, too.

“If we are going to fully profit from great technological advan­ces, we must make sure that every­one participates,” he said.



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