Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - First-rate training and a second chance




First-rate training and a second chance

Some of The Phnom Penh Post's staff in August 2003, including Bill Bainbridge, Patrick Falby, Michael J. Coren (centre), Vong Sokheng, Sam Rith, and John Trezise. Photo supplied
Some of The Phnom Penh Post's staff in August 2003, including Bill Bainbridge, Patrick Falby, Michael J. Coren (centre), Vong Sokheng, Sam Rith, and John Trezise. Photo supplied

First-rate training and a second chance

On my first day on the job at The Phnom Penh Post, our publisher, Michael Hayes, sent me to cover a press conference about the approaching 2003 election.

New to the country, I walked over to the Foreign Correspondents Club, where bartenders were pouring cold mugs of Tiger beer and the Mekong River slid past the balcony in silence.

Opposition politicians were denouncing the election preparations. “We speak with one voice to push for elections that will reflect the will of the Cambodian people and convince the donor countries to put pressure on the [Cambodian People’s Party] to hold fair elections,” shouted Sam Rainsy, standing next to officials from the royalist Funcinpec party.

Patiently, The Post’s political reporter Vong Sokheng guided me through a torrent of acronyms and palace intrigue. I transcribed furiously. Sweating through my first story back at the office, I felt the excitement that never ebbed during my time in Cambodia. A year later, as The Post’s new managing editor, I was as familiar with Cambodia’s politics as my own country’s (perhaps better), and Cambodia has never stopped teaching me.

Few places give journalists a better training ground. The Post was the chance to do everything a reporter hopes to do. I wrote about corruption, economics, politics, the environment, human rights and the struggles of a country recovering after one of history’s great tragedies. The best, and the most challenging, aspects of humanity were on display every day. It remains one of the most difficult, beautiful and fascinating countries I’ve had the privilege to cover. I hope I made a difference. I know The Post has.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The all-star bulletin board at The Phnom Penh Post circa 2004. Photo supplied

The Post’s legacy lives on in the West as well. I often meet the newspaper’s alumni, and our counterparts from The Cambodia Daily, at publications around the world, from The Boston Globe to The Guardian, as well as at my current job writing for Quartz, the sister publication to The Atlantic.

As a young journalist, The Post gave me something I never expected: the chance to report overseas and, later, a shot at running a newsroom in my early 20s. I turned down the offer to become managing editor the first time it was offered to me. After boarding my flight home, and travelling halfway across the world, I realised what I was leaving behind. I called Hayes to reconsider. He graciously accepted. It was one the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Michael J. Coren was the managing editor of The Phnom Penh Post in 2004. He is currently a technology and business reporter for Quartz in San Francisco. Previous publications he has written for include CNN.com, Foreign Policy, and The Economist.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from