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VOA Khmer Reporter Wins Journalism Award

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer staff (middle) receives David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards, an annual award presented by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

VOA Khmer reporter Sok Pov Khemara has earned the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award, an annual award presented by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency that oversees all US government-supported international broadcasting.

Blanquita Walsh Cullum, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, said Sok Pov Khemara had earned the award for thought-provoking reporting on the Khmer Rouge tribunal and senior leaders who are not in custody.

“He created a series of reports profiling former Khmer Rouge leaders, who could face arrest if the tribunal widens prosecution of the regime,” Cullum said. “He travelled to the jungles of northern Cambodia, where many Khmer Rouge leaders have sought refuge, and he got an exclusive interview with five of them. He confronted the Khmer Rouge officials with questions about their role in the genocide.”

“Mr. Pov was helped in his research in searching for the Khmer Rouge by local chiefs, who recognized his voice from the VOA broadcast,” she added.

Sok Khemara interviewed five former leaders of the regime in 2009, as debate stirred over whether the tribunal should widen its scope to indict more cadre of the regime.

Jay Henderson, chief of VOA’s East Asia Pacific division, said he nominated the reporter for the personal danger he put himself in for the series.

“He went in and came out with a very good interview,” Henderson said. “He did establish contacts with those people. They did trust him because they learned to trust the Voice of America, which has been a credible news source. I think they have respect for Sok [Khemara] as well. He did a fair job with them. He did not unfairly criticize them. He simply asked them a few questions and took the answer and reported what they said. This is a very good example of outstanding journalism.”

Sok Pov Khemara said he had not reported with the award in mind, but “for social change, strengthening democracy, human rights, and serving people.”

The recipients of the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards include Rahman Bunairee of Deewa Radio to Pakistan, Jin-Seo Lee of Radio Free Asia’s Korean service, Laura Juan Huang of RFA’s Mandarin service, Mohamed Mokhtari and Betty Ayoub of Alhura Television, and Elena Rodriguez from Radio Marti.