I started this blog after more than a decade of writing two or three letters a year to one or both of the Phnom Penh English-language newspapers, the Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily. This could be a frustrating experience even when the letters were published if a subeditor decided to shorten a letter by cutting out the central argument. More recently, I have noticed what appears to be an increasing tendency for the papers to ignore my letters when they criticise some aspect of their coverage or disagree with their editorial line on a controversial topic.
In any case, two or three letters a year seemed inadequate to have any effect on real events or on the quality of the journalism reporting them. My comments will appear here more frequently than any newspaper could reasonably be expected to make space for them. Nevertheless, unless otherwise noted, all the letters here have been sent to one or both of those newspapers.
Update – 29 September 2013
It seems that the time has come to expand slightly the scope of this blog. While I will continue to send letters to the Phnom Penh papers on particular topics that arise in them, it has become evident that the misinformation and faulty reasoning that appear in both the Post and the Daily are too extensive to be dealt with even by frequent letters. (This is particularly the case with the Daily, which now limits letters to 150 words unless they are in praise of the Cambodian National Rescue Party or an attack on the government.) Moreover, the Phnom Penh papers often deserve criticism as much for the articles they don’t publish as for those they do, but that is a type of letter that editors particularly dislike to print, even when they are worded as gently as possible.
Therefore, this blog will become less of a record of letters sent to newspapers and something more of a commentary on the Phnom Penh print media. When these commentaries are sent to a paper, this will be noted, but the commentaries themselves will now be written more with an eye to informing readers of this blog, and less in the hope that they might be allowed to appear in one of the print dailies.
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