For 24 years, the Cambodia Daily, an English-language newspaper based in Phnom Penh, was a bastion of press freedom in a developing country still struggling to emerge from decades of genocide and civil war. The Daily served as a training program in Western-style objective reporting for Cambodian journalists; many of its newsroom’s alumni now staff Phnom Penh’s AP and other wire-service bureaus, and have produced award-winning books and documentaries. Recently, however, the paper was shut down by the Cambodian government, which has also ejected Western NGOs, pulled Radio Free Asia from the airwaves, and arrested the leader of the opposition party.
For this project, journalist Molly Ball, who worked at the Daily from 2001 to 2003, travels to Tokyo to interview the newspaper’s founder and his daughter, its current publisher. She then proceeds to Phnom Penh to report on the situation there, using the newspaper’s predicament as a window into the growing crackdown on dissent and democratic institutions being carried out by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.