Building cities on sand: An examination of the normative basis for journalism in Cambodia

TitleBuilding cities on sand: An examination of the normative basis for journalism in Cambodia
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Quinn, F.
Affiliation (1st Author)Dublin City University, Ireland
Section or WGPost-Socialist and Post-Authoritarian Communication Working Group
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodePOSF4a
Slot Code (Keyword)POSF4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleJournalism cultures and the public sphere
Submission ID5934

"The presumption that a liberal media landscape helps strengthen good governance and human development has approached normative orthodoxy in the western world and in the many globally spanning aid institutions that have emerged from it. Consistent with this view, encouraging journalism is regarded as a vital component in ensuring that media support and propagation initiatives function effectively as part of overall aid strategies in the developing world and emerging democracies (Clark 2005, Merrill 2009, Foley 2010). Due in large part to such initiatives in recent years, a rapid growth in media in these regions has taken place which has stoked demand for journalism training and education (Anon, Economist 2007, Josephi 2010). These tendencies raise questions about the functions and expectations of journalism within such media aid strategies and the basis for same, whether there are particular roles and values associated with the practice which make it more or less useful in this regard and the nature and effect of journalism training and education programmes in these scenarios on the type of journalists they produce.While these elements are being explored in more detail as part of a larger research project currently being undertaken by this researcher, this paper looks at the basis for journalistic normative ideals and the means by which they are integrated into journalism programmes in broad terms, before exploring the experience of this in one emerging democracy – that of Cambodia – while placing such tendencies into a regional and global context.  It does so by answering two primary questions :1. What kind of normative ideals about journalism (as a practice and a profession) predominated in journalism education/ training programmes in Cambodia during the period being examined? 2. What assumptions are these ideals grounded in and how do these relate to local realities in Cambodia and in a wider Asian context. The paper attempts to situate normative tendencies in journalism within the development of the press in Cambodia and consider the degree to which these might have contributed toward or influenced tendencies in what is, although ostensibly a democracy, increasingly seen as an authoritarian state. It also examines the interplay of concepts like journalistic professionalism and how it relates to normative ideals of journalism in Cambodia, in particular ones that may be conflicting, such as those of 'democracy' or 'Asian values' as well as looking at varying conceptualisations of journalistic ethics and the implications of same in a particular environment such as that of Cambodia. By exploring these elements of the Cambodian experience, this paper sheds light on the question of whether conventional western norms and values of journalism fit with non-western cultures, and begins to explore the hypothesis that a lack of grounding of journalistic normative ideals in local specificities may have undermined the development of a more liberal westernised press system taking root in Cambodia, of the sort which most foreign donors had hoped for."

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