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Bribing journalists

Bribing journalists

Dear Editor,

Last month, the Post wrote a story about bribes or gifts to

journalists by organizers at a meeting or press conference. Now it has come to

their school.

Last week, I witnessed organizers of another press

conference in a hired meeting room at the Cambodia Communication Institute

distribute money to journalists again. I appreciated their generosity towards

our media colleagues. But what was the real motive?

I would like to

express my concern as a journalist, and not on behalf of the institute, over the

so-called "gifts" to reporters who attended the conference. First, I think the

$5 tips to journalists could only make them go from bad to worse.

We

recognize the good work of many journalists who have tried to do their job

professionally. But some journalists have very little knowledge of professional

practice.

Often we see abusive language, biased reports, and distorted

facts in some publications, along with defamation and intrusion into private

life.

These journalists may be among those vulnerable to manipulation by

crooked businessmen and politicians who use money to buy their

favor.

What was sad about the conference at CCI was that the

co-organizers were from a local NGO and a UN agency. I wonder how they wrote it

in their budget report. Was it "gifts" to journalists?

It was even sadder

that these "gifts" were distributed at a journalism school where journalists are

taught to be ethical and not to accept "gifts".

I appreciate the actions

of the two women reporters from the Khmer Women's Voice Magazine and other

journalists who decided to walk away when they were called out to get the

money.

I would like to remind the organizers that even though their story

got a space in a newspaper one would still buy it or read it based on news

judgment. A good journalist will write a good story without being paid by its

source.

There are many ways to help journalists. One is to help them with

training to improve themselves. Or if an organization or ministry wants to

highlight their activities, they can arrange a writing contest with the

participation of a panel of professional judges.

I wish not to identify

or offend the organizers of the press conference. I can understand that what

they did might be from their sincere kindness to help journalists. But I do wish

they hadn't helped them in this way.

- Moeun Chhean Nariddh, Trainer, Cambodia Communication Institute

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