The Cambodia Daily
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|Ceased publication||4 September 2017|
|Headquarters||Phnom Penh, Cambodia|
The Cambodia Daily was started in 1993 by Bernard Krisher, an American journalist. Krisher's aim for the paper, as outlined in an article in its first issue, was twofold: to create an independent newspaper of record and to train Cambodian journalists. The newspaper's motto was "All the news without fear or favor".
Krisher hired two young and relatively inexperienced journalists, Barton Biggs and Robin McDowell, as the paper's first editors. The first issue was published on August 20, 1993, and the last issue was published in September 4, 2017. At the time it started publication, The Daily was Cambodia's only English-language daily newspaper. The Phnom Penh Post, which had been in print since 1992, was only printed fortnightly until it began daily publication in early 2008.
The Daily was printed in Phnom Penh in an A4-size format and was delivered six days a week, Monday to Saturday, until 2017, when it reduced its print run to five days per week. The paper featured four to ten pages of local news daily written by its Cambodian and foreign reporters. Its regional and international news sections consisted of copy donated and purchased from major news outlets and wire services (Reuters, The Washington Post, Kyodo News). The weekend edition of the paper was accompanied by a full-color Weekend magazine insert that included local and international feature pieces. A daily section in Khmer language carried articles translated from the main English-language section, and the Monday issue of the paper included "English Weekly", a special insert with news quizzes for English learners.
The Daily was known for its coverage of local news and particularly for its investigative reporting on illegal logging and its coverage of corruption and human rights abuses, including land grabs and forced evictions.
The Daily has won a number of awards for its investigative reporting and feature stories. In 2017, Daily journalists Aun Pheap and Zsombor Peter won an Excellence in Investigative Reporting from the Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) for their article "Still Taking a Cut," which exposed involvement of the Cambodian military in the country's illegal logging trade. In 2016, Daily journalists Julia Wallace, Kuch Naren, Chhorn Chansy and Ben Woods won a SOPA Excellence in Feature Writing award for their article, "Moving Dirt: A lucrative dirt trade is leaving holes in communities".
Somaly Mam investigation
Cambodia Daily led a years-long investigation into famed anti-trafficking activist Somaly Mam, former president of the Somaly Mam Foundation, over discrepancies in her autobiography, The Road of Lost Innocence, which detailed her backstory as a sex slave in Cambodia, becoming an international bestseller. The Daily first began reporting on inconsistencies in her public comments and claims made in her book in early-2012, and in October 2013 published results of its investigation into claims of trafficking made in Mam's book that reporters found to have been fabricated. A Newsweek exposé by former Cambodia Daily editor Simon Marks in May 2014 focused international attention on the alleged falsifications, and Mam stepped down from her foundation just days after the article's publication.
Cambodia Daily published its final issue on September 4, 2017, announcing its immediate closure. According to the owners, the closure was the result of a dispute with the Cambodian government over a US$6 million dollar tax bill, which was disputed by the newspaper's ownership as politically motivated.. Other commentators blamed the newspaper's owners "of poor internal governance, and a history of noncompliance'. The Cambodian Department of Taxation disputed the accusation of political motivation, and commented that the tax bill was aimed at supporting the national budget . The Cambodian government had started a tax reform initiative 2013 to increase the government’s tax revenue collection capabilities and better regulate Cambodia’s significant informal economy .
The paper's final front page featured the headline "Descent into Outright Dictatorship" above its top article on the arrest of Cambodian National Rescue Party President, Kem Sokha, and was published amid a "deteriorating" political climate in Cambodia, according to the UN Human Rights Office.
The paper's closure followed the ban of popular independent radio news programs, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia and Voice of Democracy as part of a country-wide media crackdown. The journalist community and Cambodian civil society showed their support for the paper with the social media movement #SaveTheDaily, and its closure received international coverage, including in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post and Al Jazeera.
Within six weeks of the paper’s closure a news digest appeared on its website signaling an attempt to relaunch the shuttered paper as an online-only news service from outside Cambodia. On Feb 4th, 2018 the Phnom Penh Post reported that the Cambodian Telecoms Ministry Secretary of State Khay Khunheng had ordered all Cambodian ISPs "to block the [Cambodia Daily's] webpage . . . and guarantee that this webpage and IP address will no longer be operating in the Kingdom of the Cambodia”. The letter also requested to block access to the Daily’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Despite the government ordered blocking of the Cambodia Daily's on-line presence the numbers of its readership and social media followers have increased since September 2017. While the print publication was an English-language newspaper with Khmer translations, the online service strengthened its Khmer language news service presenting its content in not only text but also in audio and video format. The Cambodia Daily Youtube channel in Khmer was launched in February and gained over 2,000 subscriber within its first two months. It caters to the growing number of smart phone owners across the nation and to an audience of varying levels of literacy. The content is aggregated offshore and available through The Cambodia Daily website, Khmer Facebook, English Facebook, and Youtube pages.
- Retka, Janelle (September 4, 2017). "24 Years of Print: The Daily's Imprint on Cambodia". The Cambodia Daily.
- Sun, Narin (September 3, 2017). "A Small Paper with a Big Impact". Voice of America. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
- "Daily Reporters Win Top Investigative Award". The Cambodia Daily. 2017-06-16. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
- Wallace, Julia; Naren, Kuch; Chansy, Chhorn. "Moving Dirt; A Lucrative Dirt Trade is Leaving Gaping Holes in Communities". The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- "The SOPA 2016 Awards for Editorial Excellence Awards Winners List" (PDF). SOPA Awards.
- "Police Deny Killings at Somaly Mam Center". The Cambodia Daily. 2012-04-21. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
- "Sex Slave Story Revealed to be Fabricated". The Cambodia Daily. 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
- "Somaly Mam: The Holy Saint (and Sinner) of Sex Trafficking". Newsweek. 2014-05-21. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
- "Somaly Mam Steps Down After Exposé". The Cambodia Daily. 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
- Mullany, Gerry (29 May 2014). "Activist resigns amid charges of fabrication". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
She said the foundation retained a law firm in March to investigate the allegations, which were raised by The Cambodia Daily in articles in 2012 and 2013.
- Simon Marks; Phorn Bopha (25 April 2012). "More Questions Over Somaly Mam's Kidnapping Claim". Cambodia Daily.
- Wallace, Julia (21 September 2017). "Cambodia's Crackdown: What Happens When an Autocrat Shutters a Newspaper". The Nation. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- Stoklasa, Julia (2017-09-03). "The Cambodia Daily confirms it will close on Monday". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 2017-09-03.
- "UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, Prof. Rhona Smith, releases her end-of-mission statement | OHCHR". cambodia.ohchr.org. Retrieved 2017-09-03.
- "Anger Mounts as Radio Purge Knocks 19 Stations Off-Air - The Cambodia Daily". The Cambodia Daily. 2017-08-28. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
- "Defiant Cambodia Daily is down but not out | The Japan Times". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
- Vichea, Pang (2018-02-05). "Cambodia Daily's website, Twitter blocked by government order". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
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