Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Voluntary code of conduct on cards

Voluntary code of conduct on cards

Voluntary code of conduct on cards

Cambodia's journalist associations have announced they will draw up their own

code of ethics by May in a bid to circumvent government efforts to do the job

for them. The six associations heard at a meeting, held at the Konrad Adenauer

Foundation in Phnom Penh January 24-25, that they would benefit from

self-regulation.

"Establishing [a code of ethics] is very important,"

said Wayne Sharpe, chairman of the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society

(IMPACS). "It will encourage Cambodian journalists to self regulate; if they

don't, that will open the door for government to regulate

instead."

Sharpe said that a democratic and peaceful society required an

open media, but warned the media needed to play its part by reporting stories

accurately.

"Cambodian media should not just be free, but should base its

stories on facts," said Sharpe. "Society cannot be free unless the media is

free."

Pen Samitthy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists

(CCJ), said the six associations would ensure a draft code was drawn up by

March. That would allow it to be circulated among journalists for feedback and

ensure the final code was ready by World Press Freedom Day on May

3.

Samitthy said that among the provisions would be a ban on journalists

taking money from officials and businessmen to write or avoid writing stories, a

common problem in Cambodia. The lack of independence of the country's papers

added to journalists' poor reputations.

"More Cambodian journalists have

lost confidence in their profession," he said, "but we have to try and convince

them to maintain a certain level of professionalism."

Samitthy said many

journalists working for Khmer-language newspapers were worried that holding to

professional standards precluded a reasonable standard of living.

Peter

Koeppinger, country representative of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, spoke of

the Cambodian media's problems in his speech at the opening of the country's

first media department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh January

14.

He warned that the print media suffered from a lack of economic

independence and desperately needed a code of conduct. He said broadcast and

print media in Cambodia had some way to go before reaching the standards of some

of the country's neighbors.

"The standard of professionalism as well as

the ability to use modern technologies in order to [inform] the public is still

far lower than in some neighboring countries," he said.

The six

journalism associations present were: the CCJ, the Cambodian Association for the

Protection of Journalists, the League of Cambodian Journalists, the Khmer

Journalists Association, the Group of Journalists for Liberty and Neutrality,

and the Independent Union of Journalists.

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