A funding squeeze has forced the Independent Journalism Foundation (IJF) to close
its Southeast Asia Media Center in Phnom Penh and shift the bulk of its training
operations to Vietnam, IJF director in Cambodia Bob Mellis said.
"All things change and I believe the IJF has done superior work through its
center in Phnom Penh," he said.
The New York-based IJF has specialized in offering three-month courses since 2001
for mid-career journalists from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Burma, who lived-in at
the center at Toul Kork.
"This decision is made because of shrinking funds," Mellis said.
He said the center would close on August 13, and classes for Cambodian journalists
would continue at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and would be conducted by Reach
Sambath, a veteran correspondent who recently retired from reporting.
"The IJF is attempting to operate on a more regular basis in Vietnam,"
Mellis said, adding that about 10 workshops had been conducted in that country over
the last 12 months.
"We have slowly built up trust with various editors and journalism associations
in Vietnam. The IJF now wants to have a permanent presence in Vietnam to better serve
the country's journalism needs," he said.
The closure also spells the end of the center's well-produced newspaper The Searchlight.
The third and final issue, featuring the fishing industry, came out on July 28. "The
newspapers are a living testament to the quality of journalism the participants were
taught," Mellis said.
He would leave feeling a little sad but also excited about the future. "This
has been a great adventure for Jo and me and we're looking forward to getting back
to our yacht at Florida, to see what comes next."