In Observation of World Press Freedom Day, held annually on May 3, the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CJC) released a statement calling on all journalists to continue to publish factual information with professionalism and the goal of serving the greater public interest.

World Press Freedom Day this year was organised around the theme of “Information as a Public good”, with the goal of emphasising that access to accurate and reliable information was vital to the public interest.

Discussions around this theme centered on what can be done to promote transparency and empower local media outlets to provide coverage for community consumption and about their community’s concerns.

The CJC also called on the government to continue to foster close cooperation and coordination with media outlets so that journalists in Cambodia can continue to work despite the difficult circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic.

CJC stated that the press has played an important role in this crisis by acting as an educator to the public about the virus and helping people determine what information is true and verified and what is just rumours or false.

"The press has also acted as a line of defence protecting the public at times from the widespread disinformation that has spread as quickly as the virus itself during the Covid-19 pandemic," said CJC.

UNESCO and the Namibian government hosted the World Press Freedom Day International Conference in Windhoek from April 29 to May 3 this year.

Professional journalists and other media stakeholders at the conference are calling for immediate action to combat the forces that are weakening independent and local media around the world – a crisis that existed prior to Covid-19, but has been worsened by the pandemic.

They will come up with solutions to strengthen the stability of the media, promote greater transparency from social media companies and measures to improve the safety of journalists and support independent media.

On May 2, the Union of Journalist Federations of Cambodia (UJFC) also issued a statement affirming that freedom of information and expression are important to the democratic process and development of any society.

However, UJFC noted that some voices are still not being heard in Cambodia, and that some problems are hidden or concealed rather than solved, and that solutions would only come with the participation of the leadership who must first be willing to acknowledge that the problems exist in the first place.

"All of our actions must be in line with the ethics of our profession, good manners and civic responsibility. Our job is spreading the truth, not provoking conflicts," the statement said.