Cambodian journalists will visit the U.S. to observe the presidential election in November to learn from their American colleagues’ experience of covering the polls, a media development group has said.
The US-based International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) said this week that 25 Cambodians would receive online training from May to July before 15 participants would be selected to visit the states.
“People here also learn from foreign journalists, but what Cambodians take back is how they can apply what they have seen, observed and learned in their own society by tailoring it to the needs of their media and election systems,” Babar Taimoor, ICFJ program director, told VOA in a phone interview on Monday.
Cambodia is set to hold its local elections in 2017 and a general election in 2018.
ICFJ said it is now seeking potential candidates, with long-term commitments to journalism and a strong interest in election coverage, for the six-week program.
Kann Vicheika, a reporter for Voice of Democracy (VOD), said she had already applied for the program.
“As we know, the U.S. is a real democracy and its election system is different from that of Cambodia, so if I have a chance to observe the U.S. elections firsthand, I will improve my own capacity and help my colleagues as well when we cover the next elections in Cambodia,” she said.
Taing Vida, a journalist with a local newspaper The Khmer Times, said he was also in the process of applying to the program.
“The program will be a good opportunity for me to strengthen my understanding of election coverage as well as how to use information and communication technology tools in the U.S. election coverage, so that I can share this knowledge among my Cambodian colleagues to ensure a fair and transparent election in Cambodia,” he said on Monday.
“As our Cambodian journalists’ understanding and coverage of elections in Cambodia is still limited, such a program is a perfect opportunity for them,” said Yoeurng Sotheara, an monitoring officer for the local election watchdog Comfrel.
The Cambodian journalists selected for the study tour will visit Washington D.C, an election “battleground’ state in the Midwest, and Long Beach, CA, according to the ICFJ.
The program is supported and funded by the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh.
Jay Raman, the embassy’s public affairs officer, said it was the best time for Cambodian journalists to see how American journalists practice their trade in the upcoming U.S. general elections.
“So what better time could that be to send a group of Cambodian journalists to see how we do our political reporting?” he said.
“And hopefully they'll get some ideas and some lessons that they can bring back to Cambodia to use in their own work.”