[Sent to the Phnom Penh Post on May 3. Not published.]
Sometimes a newspaper headline can reveal much more than a journalist or editor realises. A case in point is the major page 1 headline on the May 2 Post: “UN’s Smith joins capital Labour Day celebrations”.
I have no quarrel with the May Day events being considered the most newsworthy event of the previous day. But the implication of the wording is that the attendance of Rhona Smith was more important than the numbers of workers and their supporters who gathered, or the content of their petitions, or the response of the government. (And the headline accurately reflected the article.)
Of course, it is not news that many people from developed Western countries arrive in countries such as Cambodia with the attitude that what local people say or do doesn’t matter – or doesn’t even exist – unless it is ratified by someone from the West, especially if that someone occupies an official position in the UN or a Western government.
It is saddening, however, to see that that attitude survives in at least some parts of the Post.