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The Cambodian Curse: A field study on the role of journalists in modern Cambodia
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The title enlightens the difficulties of democratic transition that Cambodia experiences post Khmer Rouge. Media in transitional democracies is often described as a forced compromise between what is ideal and what is actually possible. This thesis aims to understand how political agency and technological advances have affected journalistic agency in a transitional democracy. Three research questions were decided upon: How do journalists in Cambodia perceive their role in a democratic transition? What restrictions and limitations do journalistic practices face in Cambodia? And how do journalists in Cambodia perceive the impact of social media on democratic development?

A field study was conducted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. For ten weeks, eight editors and journalists currently active in Cambodia were interviewed and observed in their working environment. Normative media theory and developmental democracy theory have been used to analyze and understand the material that was generated through a combination of unstructured observations and semi-structured qualitative research interviews.

Important findings were that the complicated structures of transitional democracies make journalists take on different roles, from very collaborative to extremely radical. Their different stand on journalistic practices is a mixture of their own choice and the force of historical, political and social constraints. Political power players treat them differently, which further separates them and has led to a segregated journalistic community. Even though they seem to share the same fundamental ideal of what journalism should be journalists are therefor unlikely to cooperate.

Social media has been a catalyst for change in democratic development in Cambodia. By offering a place for uncensored conversations it has given the opposition access to media. Social media has brought along many new dilemmas though and is probably more beneficial to journalistic development than to democratic development. There is a lack of tolerance of diversity in Cambodia due to the fragile state of democratic transition. Therefor the immediate and unrestricted ways of expression in social media partially works against creating the social capital necessary for consolidation – fully completed democratization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 81 p.
Keyword [en]
Cambodia, field study, transitional democracy, normative media theory, role of journalists, social media, semi structured qualitative research interviews, observation methods.
National Category
Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-108594OAI: diva2:759489
Available from: 2015-03-17 Created: 2014-10-30 Last updated: 2015-03-17Bibliographically approved

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