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The right stuff

The right stuff

Every journalist in the world should work a year or two at the Phnom Penh Post.

It's a real eye-opener-in the positive sense.

The Post is a place where little more than two dozen people-including the cook, the

cleaner and the four guards-produce a newspaper that has the Prime Minister sneering

over his breakfast, foreign diplomats criticizing the government, and corrupt high-ranking

officials losing their jobs.

That may not be different from other serious, independent publications-except that

at the Post the staff produce the paper in spite of a practically non-existent budget.

Six or seven reporters and one editor share two telephones and three computers. They

write their stories sitting on old wooden chairs that regularly fall apart underneath

them. There's no air-con in the office and not enough desks for everybody. When a

monitor breaks down-again-it's the Managing Director, who pulls out the screwdriver.

It takes a certain kind of dedication to work under those conditions. And courage

since every controversial story you write is a potential threat to you, your family

and your sources. Accuracy and confidentiality-ethics in short-becomes a necessity

of life.

And that's exactly what the Post will teach any journalist: dedication, courage and

ethics.

I now work for one of the leading national newspapers in Denmark with a daily circulation

of 150,000. My claim is that the Post has more guts-and probably more influence-than

my newspaper does.

Because Cambodia would not have been the same without the Post, neither would I.

ó Anette was a Phnom Penh Post reporter from 1999-2001. She currently a correspondent

at Politiken.

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