By Sokha Khoun

Media can mean a lot to everybody in Cambodia. But, 14 months ago, Media meant only many questions to me. In October of 2012 I came to join the Ponheary Ly Foundation to train to be a Media teacher with Diana Gross from Global Citizen Media. I wrote my first blog post called “The Importance of Digital Media in Cambodia ” in early 2013. During the past 10 months since I have been training and teaching Media, I have found answers to 60% of my questions.

 PLF Media Teachers Sokha and Saveth show six values that they want to instill in students through the media classes.

In the middle of December 2013 Diana from Global Citizen Media came back to Cambodia again to train me and my co-worker Mr. Saveth to understand more about being better media teachers by working with us to understand and revise the curriculum. We spend 90 minutes to train every day. We talk about the curriculum and that it is not only about the Skills that we teach, but also about how the students perform the skills AND the Values that we teach through the Media classes. The Values that Saveth and I chose to teach through the Media classes are Self-Confidence, Responsibility, Creativity, Communication, Human Rights, and Global Understanding.

Now we have talked about what it is in Media class that we teach to tell the students about these values. It is most easy for us to teach Responsibility, Self-Confidence, Creativity, and Communication. To teach Human Rights and Global Understanding is more difficult. But, there is something we teach that helps. And it is the new thing about the Media that interests me: Traditional vs. New Media.

 With mobile technology, now many people can take photos and tell the story. (Photo by Khmer Media)

Traditional Media is radio, television, newspapers, and magazines. New Media is websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs. I feel it is very interesting to Cambodia because in the last few years young Cambodian people are very interested in new media like Facebook and Twitter. I really love New Media because we are not just the audience of it, we can also share some things we see to the world easy and fast.

 A Facebook picture on VOA Khmer showing Cambodian Americans in California demonstrate for a re-election in Cambodia. (Photo by VOA Khmer)

Approximately 85% of people in Cambodia live in the countryside. I came from a small village in the countryside where there is little education, no electricity, no toilets, no clean water, and definitely no computers! So the only way we got news when I was young was only from the radio and television.

 The students head home after school in an area 25 kilometers northwest of Siem Reap.

New media is much better than traditional media because we can get news faster and from many different people. The old media like television only tell the news at 6:00AM, 6:00PM and one time in the afternoon for 1 hour. In that hour, they must tell about economy news, sport news, national news, international news and weather. There is different person who talks for each news on television, so we hear news from only 5 people. But on New Media, we can hear news from so many people.

 The violence shown on the Facebook page of VOA Khmer in Phnom Penh when the workers demonstrate for better salary.(Photo by VOA Khmer)

For example in January of 2014, Cambodians who work in the factories that make shoes and clothes demonstrated in Phnom Penh for a better salary. These people work in the factories to make the clothes and shoes and only make $80 a month. They ask to have salary of $160 every month. We have to wait for the television to tell us the news at 6:00PM from only one person. But on Facebook, people who were at the demonstration posted the photos and we can see what was really happening every minute. With new media, we can say things to the world without paying to print a newspaper or go to talk to Radio or Television station. We just have to have internet and a smart phone or camera and computer and then the world can see what challenges we face.

 PLF Field Director Farida and I visit with a student and her family in the remote area.

In Cambodia, we need news from new media. It is now the 21st century and all the countries all over the world are using technology and new media. Most of the people in my village are not. Because I moved to live in Siem Reap to continue my studies, I am using technology and new media. But my friends who dropped out of school when they were in grade 7 or 8, because the school was too far and their family had no transportation, need help to learn about new media so that they can get the real information and get it fast. Now they only get real information from me when I go home to my village. But, I can only go one time every month. New media is moving us to the new world now. So, I am thinking, “How can I teach my village and all the people like them about technology and new media?” Again, I have more questions.