The Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) is hoping to turn a select group of garment workers into muckrakers by offering a journalism program through the Voice of Democracy news outlet.
Free of charge, the course will last until October and have a firm focus on covering day-to-day life in an industry that employs hundreds of thousands.
“There are 10 garment workers from different factories in Phnom Penh who were selected to join in the project, and we expect that they will become good reporters and report on the situation of the workers inside and outside the factory to the media, especially to us,” said Hok Narin, who is in charge of the project for CCIM.
“They can report about strikes, fainting or working conditions.”
Narin said that the trainees were provided with one smartphone each for the duration of the course. VOD will collect their photos, video or text and publish some of the stories on its website, paying trainees $2 each per story. The workers are also free to distribute information over their own social media accounts.
So far, the participants, who were selected by the Community Legal Education Center, have taken two courses covering social media and how to write basic news stories.
For workers like Kong Srey Mao, 31, who sews at M&V International garment factory in Phnom Penh, the new freelance work is welcome.
“It is not difficult for me if I compare it to my current job, but it is new and strange, because I used to carry the needle and now I have to carry a pen, notebook and smartphone for taking pictures. I will try the best to catch it until I can write the story,” she said.
Srey Mao said she has wanted to be a journalist since she was young, but living standards in her family forced her to abandon her education at grade 6.
“I hope that once we understand how to write the story, news of our problem will be spread out more and more, to everybody outside the factory,” she said. Then, “I will change my career”.