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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - It's no party

It's no party

In Cambodia, when you introduce yourself to a source you have to tell them

clearly the name of your paper, otherwise you will be asked to repeat it. There

are more than 200 newspapers in Cambodia.

Most of them are believed to favor one political side or another. The source really

wants to know the name of your organization so they can guess what political

party you are from and they can level their tone for the interview.

"What is the Phnom Penh Post...What party does the Phnom Penh Post newspaper

support?" most people asked me.

I had to answer this question first, otherwise sources would not let me interview

them, including government officials, civilians, former KR, and even some monks.

For instance, when I interviewed Ta Mok's former KR cook in Pailin in 1999, the questions

were asked strongly.

"Phnom Penh Post!...What is it?" she asked.

"Phnom Penh Post is the name of a newspaper published in English,"

I explained.

"Oh kaset americ," meaning an American's newspaper, she looked surprised.

Some people when they learned that the Post is an English language newspaper described

the Post as "Kaset antarak cheat" or "international press". They stopped

suspecting the reporter because they believed that foreign language newspapers

are independent.

But Ta Mok's cook was not easy. She needed to double check.

"What party is the Phnom Penh Post from, Funcinpec?" she added.

I tried to explain to her about the difference between the operations of the Post

and Khmer newspapers.

She looked at me in astonishment and calmly complained, "but people say all

newspapers have their own political party."

That was not the first time I heard such questions from my interviewees. Sometimes

I felt annoyed.

So, it was interesting that the reporter who wanted to interview the cook was

being interviewed by the cook!

I learned a lot at the Post on how to cover stories, interview and write features.

I learned how to report responsibly. The people who edited my articles were professional.

They did not twist the contents of my article and they did not steal my byline.

But one thing I did not like at the Post was the publishing frequency. It was two

weeks long. Sometimes my stories became decayed or killed by competitors.

I wish the Phnom Penh Post would publish weekly.

ñCheath was a Post reporter from Sep 1996 to Jul 2000. He now works for Radio

Free Asia in Bangkok.

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