A new survey has found that more than half of local journalists reported that the institutions they work for are not independent, with nearly 60 per cent saying they don’t feel free to do their jobs without fear of repercussions.
The Cambodian Center for Independent Media report interviewed 102 journalists from 43 institutions – publishing in Khmer, English and other languages – in 22 provinces.
Fifty-three per cent reported that the institutions they worked for were “not independent” due to direct and indirect government interference – including media ownership, licensing strictures and pressure on owners and publishers.
Meanwhile, 26 per cent of respondents said they had at one time or another been threatened with legal action as a result of their work, while 58 per cent did not “feel completely free to report on all subjects without fear of interference or repercussions”.
CCIM executive director Pa Ngoun Teang at the report’s launch that he took issue with government interference, saying that “outlets that do not listen to, or criticise, [the government] might face pressures”.
For journalists facing such pressures, he continued, working at compromised institutions means “working at a place that is not in their hearts”.
Phay Siphan, the government spokesman, contested the findings and maintained that the “government doesn’t have the power and resources to interfere in the media system, except when journalists extort money”.