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Minister: Avoid fake news

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Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith. Hean Rangsey

Minister: Avoid fake news

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said some people had been spreading false narratives under the guise of reporting news.

In his Facebook post on Monday, Kanharith said these actions affected the honour and dignity of professional reporters.

He said small and medium-sized enterprises had complained about unprofessional reporters asking for money. If the enterprises refused to give them money, they spread fake news saying that the enterprises had secretly sold illegal goods, which affected their businesses.

Kanharith’s Facebook post said: “Disorganised activities of unprofessional reporters refer to reporters who have no articles to be published. [These] reporters only have a small camera and mobile phone to broadcast on social media platforms. They have no regular agenda, but regularly ask for money.”

Citing enterprise owners, he said those unprofessional reporters had spread news without understanding commercial laws and standard procedures.

“I hope that all reporters will try to avoid professional misconduct and join hands to deal with imposter reporters for the sake of the dignity of professional reporters in Cambodia,” Kanharith said.

Chhaya Neath, the editor-in-chief of CPC News, said according to practical observations and reports from citizens, this phenomenon is affecting the professions of real reporters.

“When citizens, businesspeople or civil servants keep saying that reporters have become extortionists, it is really unacceptable.

“[I] hope that the Minister of Information will implement measures against these unprofessional and unethical reporters to uphold the value of professions dealing with information” he said.

Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) president Pen Bona told The Post on Tuesday that currently, many individuals are disguising themselves as reporters to commit unethical acts which damage the reputation of professional reporters.

“There are a great many such individuals. Some are Facebook users who present themselves as reporters. Some others join hands to set up a group to go to a place to earn money.

“They do other activities, saying that they are reporters. But what they do does not reflect professional reporting ... their only interest is to serve themselves,” he said.

Bona said the public had mistaken the activities of imposters for those of real accredited reporters.

Hence, the Ministry of Information, he said, should take measures to distinguish occupational reporters from reporters who just present themselves as such.

Information and broadcasting director-general Phos Sovann told The Post on Tuesday that the ministry would not remain silent on the matter. It will lay out some measures to strengthen the implementation of the press law.

Spreading information in an unprofessional and incorrect manner and causing incitement is detrimental to the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises.

“We have laid out two main measures. The first is to set up legal standards to eliminate fake news. The other is to establish an educational mechanism and strengthen the implementation of the law on reporters,” he said.

Sovann said his ministry had cooperated with other ministries and institutions to strengthen the implementation of the law for local reporters who spread false news, incite violence and cause chaos in society.

The same applied to news websites not registered at the ministry and a small number of foreign newspapers based abroad.

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