Post Media will truly be Cambodia's news provider of record with the September launch of its Khmer-language paper.
YESTERDAY many readers of this newspaper may have noticed that for the first time The Phnom Penh Post is publishing pages in the vernacular, with an eight-page section inserted into Monday's edition.
In fact, it marks the start of the transitional journey for our Khmer edition of the paper, for during the next month 'PK' - as we colloquially term it - will be progressively trialled in print before finally springing out as its own creation.
Set for a September launch as a full-colour tabloid, the daily insert will number eight pages this week, rising to 12 pages and then finally 16 pages over the coming four weeks, before being launched as a 24-page newspaper plus a four-page classified section.
The newspaper will be intrinsically different from that of its English-language sister, say the paper's two senior editors, Kay Kimsong and Neth Pheaktra.
"For starters, what appeals to the English reader should not be equated to what interests the white-collar Khmer audience we are targeting. If we were to do a direct translation of Post English and then publish it as a mirror image, then this would be a huge mistake," said Neth Pheaktra, the newspaper's managing editor.
"In fact, what we are doing is creating a new definition for what a newspaper is in Cambodia, because to date I think we all believe the market is dysfunctional. In a traditional sense of what a newspaper is - globally that is - then that is what we envisage our newspaper to be."
"We can be guided by our English sister, but we will make our own news judgements in the Cambodian way, because we are going to define what the new Cambodia desires. It will be a reflection of the society we now are - those educated at our own universities and from around the world, the small-, medium- and big-business types, the culturally sophisticated, the globally travelled, the socially aware and the religiously diverse ... the new modern nation," said Editor-in-Chief Kay Kimsong.
The Khmer edition will also mark for the first time the advent of a dual language national newspaper. Crucially, both editions, published by Post Media Ltd, will continue to be independent and are beholden to no one.
Kay Kimsong said PK's independence is important for Cambodia's evolution as a parliamentary democracy and a representation of the freest media laws in all of Southeast Asia.
"What many people fail to realise is that Cambodia allows for private ownership of the press, and it is a country where censorship is not practiced. Not many other countries in the region can claim that," he said. "And the fact that we are commencing a new daily is a concrete symbol of the freedoms that this country has.
"Of course there will be sensitive times, and things may become prickly from time to time, but I'm confident that we will be allowed to operate with our independence guaranteed."
The Phnom Penh Post will continue to have a single newsroom, which currently numbers around 50 journalists, editors and translators among a total staff of around 150.
There will be two production desks, which will process information independently of each other.
The newspapers will be printed at the company's own printing facility.
Editorial deadlines will be kept open for as long as possible, but papers will still be printed in time for daybreak distribution in Siem Reap and also for early sale in Sihanoukville and other major regional cities.
The Phnom Penh Post in both languages will be available in all 24 provinces.
Ross Dunkley is the publisher of Post Media Co Ltd.