Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Freelancers need support



Freelancers need support

Freelancers need support

091211_06
Phnom Penh journalists rush to take photos earlier this year.

Grassroots journalism is key to a healthy democracy, and freelancers must be given the pay and training they deserve.

The role of freelance journalists should not be ignored if we want to promote a healthy democracy.

DO you want to be a journalist? Probably not – especially a freelance journalist in Cambodia.

In a country where unemployment is an endemic problem for new graduates from high schools and universities, a career in the media is still among the jobs considered as a last resort for many Cambodians who cannot find another livelihood. Many people who decide to enter journalism may opt to become freelance journalists if they cannot find a full-time job.

Like other media professionals in general, freelance journalists can play an active role in enhancing good governance and social accountability, as well as promoting a healthy democracy as a whole. Freelance journalists can help fill in the gaps when mainstream media outlets don’t have the resources to cover a story. Due to a lack of staff or sufficient means to report on events in the provinces, many newspapers, radio and TV stations depend on stringers or freelance journalists to help fill in this information vacuum.

Unfortunately, their efforts are not rewarded in the way they deserve. On average, freelancers are paid US$2.50 per story by a black-and-white newspaper and $5 if the story is published by a larger newspaper. It is hard to make ends meet with such a low income, which can discourage people from joining the profession. Facing this financial dilemma, many provincial freelancers have to write two or three stories every day in the hope that at least one of them will be published.

Many mainstream media outlets are making quite a handsome profit thanks to the hard work of these freelance journalists. Now, it’s time to give something back.

We know some media outlets are able to pay reasonable salaries to their staff. Other successful media organisations should do the same. If a full-time reporter is paid at least US$200 a month and a freelancer can receive $15 or $20 per news article, they will be able to produce quality stories (at most, a freelance journalist will have only about 10 stories published or broadcast each month). With the improved quality of the news products, media outlets can also attract the attention of more advertisers as their audience increases.

Another common problem among freelance journalists is the fact they usually enter the profession with little or no proper education or training. This makes them vulnerable to criminal lawsuits for defamation or disinformation due to mistakes they’ve made in their stories. If they are properly trained in the required professional skills, they will not only be able to produce better stories and draw a higher salary, but they will also be able to minimise the risks of being sued for making mistakes.

The role of freelance journalists should not be ignored if we want to promote a healthy democracy. A healthy democracy needs to start at the grassroots level. In order for this grassroots democracy to flourish, we need the media to function at the grassroots level through the use of civic, or citizen, journalism.

This is where freelancers come into play. If young people can be trained to become freelance journalists at the district or commune level, they can represent the voices and interests of their community while keeping them informed of what is happening elsewhere. Ultimately, freelance journalists can help Cambodian citizens fully participate in Cambodia’s democratic process. The future of our democracy starts here.

Moeun Chhean Nariddh is director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Studies and teaches about the media at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Tottenham Hotspur to wear ISF Cambodia logo on jerseys in match against Sheffield United

    Last year, the Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) – an NGO providing education to underprivileged children in Cambodia – made global headlines with its “socially distanced” football initiative. This year, a world-class football club – Tottenham Hotspur FC – will wear special edition jerseys to show their support for ISF

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American