Readers Bid Farewell as Post Presses Fall Silent

Reader holds last printed form of the Phnom Penh Post on March 29. Photo: Romdoul Chetra

PHNOM PENH – The last day of the Phnom Penh Post’s print edition has come. The paper farewelled its readers on Mar. 29 while students and those who learned from its articles said their final goodbyes.

On March 1, the Post announced that the outlet had been in financial trouble since the COVID-19 pandemic, making it impossible to handle the revenue loss and the intense penetration of technology and social media in the traditional news industry. It had tried in vain to generate income to sustain the publication.

In 1992, American Michael Hayes and Kathleen O'Keefe used $50,000 to launch the paper, offering independent news and a stage for aspiring journalists to launch their careers in Cambodia.

Operating for more than 30 years, the Post said it had contributed to the country’s development through its writing and coverage of socio-economy, human rights, politics,  business and economic developments, as well as arts and culture.

“We believe that we serve as a trustworthy watchdog supporting the country’s development through the sharing of factual, comprehensive and transparent knowledge, allowing each member of the Cambodian public to make well informed decisions for themselves,” the paper said.

Meng Seavmey, a journalist, first got her hands on the paper in 2016 when she was learning English through content-based instruction at a high school in Sihanoukville. 

“That was when I enrolled in a newspaper translation class for three months, thinking that I could learn both English in a formal context and social events. It was mostly about commenter Kem Ley’s assassination at the time,” she said. 

Seavmey was introduced to many social events locally and globally as the writing was easy to grasp.

“It's sad to hear that one of the oldest and most trustworthy sources of information is to be shut down today. It is a big loss in this industry, and it's even sadder to hear that it was discontinued due to lack of revenue,” she said.

Sun Sreynea, a media student at the Department of Media and Communication of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said she read the Post as a child.

She would not bother about the end of the print edition if she did not take courses on the history of traditional media transformation through physical prints and convergence and globalization. 

“We all knew anyway that most of the printing mediums wouldn't survive for long, but we can't deny that this was once the most powerful communication agent that used to be part of our lives.

“News bulletins have been here since the ancient Rome era or even way before that, so witnessing the end of this printed newspaper may not be that shocking for me, but I still couldn't help feeling vulnerable over this incredible medium that we couldn't save,” she said.

Ouk Sereyveacha, an international relations student at the University of Cambodia, said the paper gave her tremendous childhood memories.  She would read it after her uncle finished reading it. 

This created the habit of reading the news, which benefitted her as a student of regional and global affairs.

“As I grew up, it had a Facebook page so I read  on Facebook.”

The Post was sold to a Malaysian investor in 2018, resulting in resignations and a decline in independent reporting due to political pressure and limited advertising income.

Related Articles