Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Putsata Reang - journalist, author & teacher

Putsata Reang (pictured), journalist and author, was born in Cambodia thirty years ago and has now returned to the country of her birth to help train investigative reporters of the future in Phnom Penh, having received much acclaim for her own book, Deadly Secrets: From High School to High Crime, published in 2001. Born in Ream, Cambodia, she escaped with her family in 1975 and was raised in Corvallis, Oregon, where she worked for several newspapers, including the Seattle Times, the Spokesman Review (Spokane, WA), the Oregonian (Portland, Oregon) and the San Jose Mercury News. As a reporter she covered the crime, the investigation, the trial, and it's aftermath of a series of brutal murders by two high school dropouts which she illuminated in her book, Deadly Secrets.
She returned to Cambodia in February 2005 on a journalism fellowship through the Alicia Patterson Foundation to write a series of stories on land issues (namely land grabbing). Now living in Phnom Penh, Putsata is currently working as the resident advisor for the Internews Network, which has implemented a series of journalism training activities for Khmer-language print journalists and editors. The project’s core focus has been on strengthening the ability of Cambodian journalists to pursue in-depth, balanced, investigative reporting and her work, which began in November 2005, is soon coming to an end. She and her assistant advisor Moeun Chhean Nariddh have worked closely with a dozen journalists, providing guidance as they select story ideas, formulate and carry out work plans and write and publish investigative stories. Its all designed to raise the standard amongst the top journalists working in Cambodia today and to utilise the experience and expertise of a successful writer like Putsata. After the program ends, she'll be heading home for a holiday and to resume her own career as a journalist.

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Andy said...

Cambodian Investigative Journalists Honored for Exposing Corruption

(September 22, 2006) More than 35 distinguished guests gathered in Phnom Penh on September 15 to honor three Cambodian journalists for their courageous work in exposing corruption. The awards ceremony, organized by Internews Network, capped off a first-of-its-kind program that trained Cambodian reporters in the skills and techniques of investigative reporting.

Over the past year, Internews supported 12 journalists representing eight Khmer language newspapers to develop accurate, in-depth, and balanced investigative reports seeking to expose corruption. The project focused on strengthening the ability of journalists through a combination of hands-on trainings, a small scholarships program and intensive one-on-one mentoring. U.S. Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Jerry Kammer, who helped expose the biggest bribe-taking scandal in the history of Congress that focused on a California lawmaker, was among the Internews’ co-trainers in Cambodia. Kammer, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy, conducted a workshop on the money trail of corruption.

At the ceremony, Internews presented top awards for Best Investigative News Story following a story competition in which program participants submitted their best news articles for review by a panel of judges comprised of representatives from Cambodia's civil society, government and media.

Throughout the training program, the journalists published over 20 investigative reports, including nearly a dozen front pages articles. The reports covered a wide range of issues: gross mismanagement and graft related to a major national park preservation project; corruption involving Khmer laborers trafficked to South Korea; pervasive bribe-taking at driving schools; and flawed government policies on land taxes. The stories prompted government-sponsored investigations into wrongdoing and the impacts have been far-reaching. some who were found to have abused power fired or demoted to; policies changed; and victims of major injustices finally compensated.

The program is the first of its kind to engage journalists long-term and purely on the issues of investigative journalism techniques within the current governing environment in Cambodia. The aim to build excellence and leadership in the journalism community occurs at a time when the expanding media community in Cambodia continues to struggle with independence, interference and ownership issues, all of which affect the ability of managers and editors to dedicate resources to allowing media to play a watchdog role.

The constraints on research and investigation of public goods and services in Cambodia are numerous – it is extremely dangerous work. But the emergence of this small group of skilled journalism leaders and the backing they have received from their editors opens the door for the media to play a greater role in exposing public corruption.

Internews’ Advanced Investigative Reporting program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in cooperation with PADCO and Pact Cambodia.

5:36 AM

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March 28, 2008 at 8:49 AM  

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