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

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that