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KI Media bites the dust as do many blogspot blogs in cambodia

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Anthony Galloway's picture
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It would seem that the Cambodian government has got rid of a thorn in their side.

Ki media ( http://www.ki-media.blogspot.com/ ) at present as with all blogspot sites seem to be down due to (unconfirmed) block by the MPTC.

Did they step over the line lately?

Only last September Thurum was suggesting some options for Ki media.

Why improved KI-Media can be good for Cambodia
In the last decade blogs have become a popular way for Cambodians to passionately voice their opinions on current events in the Kingdom. One of the most successful examples is the socio-political blog KI-Media, which recently celebrated 10 million hits just over five years after its launch. Despite its achievement, KI-Media could do more to raise its standard of blogging, if not through citizen journalism, at least by staying true to their founding mission and playing a more influential role in the distribution of information.

KI-Media began its operation in early 2000s as an email list-serve meant to distribute sensitive news and information related to Cambodian politics. Their first blog in 2005 was video of an interview with Chhay Vee detailing the 1997 grenade attack on SRP supporters in Phnom Penh. The blog now reuses contents from a wide range of sources without linking to the original sites, but rarely breaks its own unique stories.

Despite the fact that it has become one of the most read blogs among Cambodians and expatriates interested in the nation’s affairs, its content and sourcing have become one of the major setbacks in how citizen media is perceived in Cambodia. Its popularity may reflect public satisfaction with the site; however its role in centralizing Cambodia-related news and information needs to be questioned.

Rather than being a non-partisan aggregator of breaking news and an unbiased outlet for whistle blowers, like Wikileaks, the controversial yet highly successful site that substantiates and publishes highly sensitive documents, KI-Media is instead allowing itself to take on the identity of an opposition website.

People like Norbert Klein, who is the editor of the Cambodian Mirror and a long-time partner in the development of the Internet in Cambodia, are frustrated by the state of KI-Media. He wrote in an email that “un-civil statements, full of personal attacks, using horrendous profanity, combined with ethnic and racial slurs” that are being posted on the site make him feel “ashamed.”

In a letter to readers, KI-Media’s founder said that he hoped to create a “Twitter-like service dedicated to news from Cambodia, at a time when the Twitter concept did not exist yet.” But now Twitter does exist and so do personalized aggregators like Google news alerts, which allow people to collect the day’s news about Cambodia, or anything else, without the assistance of a site like KI-Media. If they really want to have an impact on the Kingdom, and stop relying on other publications for their content, KI-Media should go back to their roots and find ways to break stories and information that isn’t already in the public domain.

In another email I received, a Cambodian human rights activist who prefers not to be named explained that KI-Media is still one of her first stops when searching for current news on the Kingdom, but also expressed concern that KI-Media has a “tendency towards the opposition,” and the site has not “taken enough measures to ensure its professionalism.”

In their recent letter to readers, KI-Media boasts that they have posted 36,133 articles, an impressive number, especially in Cambodia, but numbers are not enough. If the sites staffers really want to put their reportedly tireless work to good use (the aforementioned letter claims that “One team member is even facing marriage breakup because of his dedication to maintaining the KI-Media website”), they need to hold themselves to higher standards.

According to their site “KI-Media loves to hear from you, and we’re giving you a bullhorn.” There is great value in allowing public conversations to centre around your content, but KI-Media is no longer unique for this feature. There are thousands of conversations happening between Cambodians on Facebook and AngkorOne as well as competing news outlets and blogs.

Copying stories critical of the government, and allowing angry people to use those stories as a sounding board for their frustrations, is one road that KI-Media can take. I would propose, however, that they push themselves to be an outlet for unique information, like the video that got the site started, and play the role that only an anonymous website can play in a country ranked 117 on the world’s press freedom index.

At the end of their recent letter, the site says that “the truth shall set us free”. It can be hard to report the truth in Cambodia, but KI-Media has the unique ability to do it, and it needs to do it better.

Devon's picture
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Sites working fine from here (Australia)

Anthony Galloway's picture
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Its a Cambodia issue Devon, not a global one.

Anthony Galloway's picture
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Blockage of blog denied

The government has denied that it has ordered local internet service providers to block a domain hosting controversial antigovernment news blog KI-Media, amid reports customers of the Ezecom ISP were unable to access the site today.
A customer service representative for Ezecom, contacted by The Post today, confirmed that his manager told him to block access to the website, saying the government had informed them to shut it down.

Naly Pilorge, director of the rights group Licadho, said her staff could not access any sites on KI-Media’s blogspot.com domain through Ezecom as of this morning, and she had received similar complaints from about 15 others Ezecom customers as early as Tuesday.

She said a customer service representative had also informed her that an unidentified government ministry asked the firm to block the site on Tuesday, due the highly critical commentary posted on the website.

There have been no reports of other ISPs blocking the domain.

Ezecom CEO Paul Blanche-Horgan said he was unaware that any actions had been taken today to shut off access to the website, forwarding questions to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

Government officials contacted today also denied any action to block KI-Media.

“The ministry of posts and telecommunications did not attempt to shut them [KI media] down,” Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun told reporters today.

He said, however, that the government had to “make sure that what is on the website is true” and ensure it doesn’t post any lewd images.

When contacted today, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said he did not know whether the government had ordered Ezecom to block the blogspot.com domain, but added that KI-Media deserved to be shut down.

“I don’t know, but it should be closed,” he said, due to its strong criticisms of the government.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith could not be reached for comment today.

Naly Pilorge from Licadho said that if the reports that the government had blocked the site were true, it would mark a significant narrowing of the space for public debate.

“This is a critical moment towards censorship and more repression,” she said.

“Free access to information is vital to any functioning democracy.”

KI-Media last made headlines in December, when Seng Kunnaka, a security guard employed by the United Nations World Food Programme, was charged with incitement and jailed for six months after he showed colleagues an article printed from the website.

Following Seng Kunnaka’s conviction, Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post that the article had referred to Prime Minister Hun Sen and Var Kimhong, the senior minister in charge of border affairs, as “traitors”.

source: pp post

Jinja's picture
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FYI, Xinhua article.
Cambodia denies action to block critical web blog
http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90851/7266149.html

Analysis: LTO_Cambodia:
http://ltocambodia.blogspot.com/2011/01/cambodia-blocks-blogspot.html

and Tharum returns with a follow-up:
Cambodia: defending and denouncing KI-Media
http://asiancorrespondent.com/40709/cambodia-defending-and-denouncing-ki...

Going to be an interesting news cycle. Twitter discussion is using the 'hashtag'
#bloggerKH http://twitter.com/search?q=%23bloggerKH

-------------------------

(Thursday PM) Update:
Many people report being able to access Blogspot via Ezecom. Varied reports about Metfone.

Articles, commentary:
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/01/20/blogspot-sites-blocked-in-cambo...
http://www.quickdraw.me/461
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2011012046238/National-news/isp-d...

taylor's picture
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This has all the hallmarks of the Cambodian leadership.

The big man was threatening anyone mentioning the word "traitor" just days ago, and that is exactly what KI had posted.

Then we have a totally incompetently executed piece of censorship. If it was just one ISP, that could be a mistake, but clearly this came from someone in govt as several ISP were involved, and the most govt loyal ISP's seem to have been the most effective implmentors.

Then when their actions didn't just slip unnoticed under the rug, the government denied everything, as per usual, and we get "muddy waters" in the press, a standard technique for this govt.

Totally transparent, but unfortunately the press appear toothless in Cambodia, and so we never get any real information. Just as the govt want.

sharee's picture
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Anyone sent an email to EZECOM asking to please explain? And any of the other internet service providers. Gutless bastards. At least admit that the government told you to block off the KI Media website.

CCCambodia's picture
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Interesting that the official government news website that "is the only Cambodian national news agency, which particularly broadcasts news on the real situation in Cambodia" was launched the following day: http://www.akp.gov.kh/?p=1109

taylor's picture
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yes very interesting, and I have high hopes that the AKP will strive to be an unbiased account of the real nitty gritty goings on and flashpoints inside Cambodia.
NOT.

Some snippets:

"The trespassing of Thai politicians and agent provocateurs into Cambodia is not something which happened at the spur of the moment..."

"Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Mr. Masafumi Kuroki cut red ribbon to inaugurate new buildings of..."

“Transformers 3 – Dark Side of the Moon” will be shot in Cambodia in February 2011 at the Angkor Temple Complex and Bokor Hill Station,"

Etc.
The last one seems quite appropriate, as this place really does seem to be a world away from earthly civilization at times.

Anthony Galloway's picture
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It would seem that ki media is down again, at least from my connection here in Cambodia .
Other blogspot site still seem to be working.

Casey Nelson's picture
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On my limited testing, all blogspot websites that I checked (including Khmerization) are accessible via Online/Cogitel connection, except one. You can probably guess which one. All blogspot websites, without exception, are still available via Mobitel 3G.

Jinja's picture
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Someone needs to pass this on to the press.

Online is a pretty big provider. And I would like to know, is blogspot still down on Metfone? What about MekongNet, I was told the specific site was blocked there.

An awful lot of effort tracking a site that I'm not terribly enthused about.

I gather that the banning of Reahu.net is also imperfectly enforced. Hmm....
Separate issue. Maybe #bannedKH for hashtag...

Anthony Galloway's picture
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I was on a wifi connection this afternoon. Not sure of the provider - no access to ki-media

- am on cellcard (on full rate as it failed 3 times to choose my rate) dongle now. Ki-media visible.

will go to QB dongle later and let ya know

Anthony Galloway's picture
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ki-media up and online with a QB dongle...

Tommiem's picture
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works fine with Digi

Devon's picture
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They don't. You can change ISP's.

CCCambodia's picture
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Was reminded for some reason last night of reahu.net www.reahu.net American Khmer artist "whose depictions of bare-breasted Apsara dancers and Khmer Rouge soldiers unleashed a public outrage" http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php?option=com_jcs&view=jcs&layout=fo... which was blocked at about this time last year by service providers.

Thought I'd see if I could get onto the website, but ACCESS DENIED.

Anyone know how many sites are blocked by those with the power to decide what we read and look at?

Devon's picture
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My previous link and post was deleted by the admin I assume. How come?

Anthony Galloway's picture
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No deletions made so far Devon, although there were a couple of double posts. It may be up higher on this topic. If you replied to a specific comment higher up the board it may be there.

ghislain's picture
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Yes there have been deletions here. Devon did post a link after post #14, to which I replied myself, and his post that now has number #15 was his reply to mine (so I guess it was #17).

Anthony Galloway's picture
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cheers. will check the log files and have a chat to the moderators.

Devon's picture
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Thanks Anthony. Yep, it definately has dissappeared.

marklatham's picture
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Whilst ki media was valuable at times the content of the comments was appalling.
If this bigoted,racist,ignorant,childish stuff is the best that khmers can come up with then good riddance to ki media.

abaddon's picture
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Ignorant comments aren't a reason to hinder a person's freedom of speech. Well, not that Cambodia ever had any freedom of speech, but regardless...
And ML, you don't think that any of your comments can be considered bigoted, racist, ignorant, or childish by anyone, ever?

marklatham's picture
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Dont think that you have read too many of the comments then,abaddon.
There is rarely anything even half intelligent.
Hard to believe that khmers are so childish.
Some of the stuff that you have thrown at me in the past comes close,though.
Abaddon hope all yea who enter here....

Anthony Galloway's picture
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there seems to be reports of ALL blogspost inaccessible via Metfone connections. anyone seing this...or not Wink

ghislain's picture
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Anthony: I'm with Metfone and all blogspots are working fine - but one:
ki-media.blogspot.com automatically redirects to everyday.com.kh

It's been like that for a few weeks and by the way: I already mentioned that on this very thread but my post disappeared. Now I do hope that this is a technical glitch...

G

Wal
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I can access KI media via PPCTV cable modem. No problems.

giblet's picture
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As of a few days ago all Blogspot blogs are now blocked by Digi. They deny any blocking is happening. I can access any of the sites through a proxy, just not when I'm on my Digi connection.

Wal
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Still works with PPCTV.

It's not like this ISP is some sort of renegade either. Their office has portraits of all the major players on the wall and souvenir photos of the director squeezing the flesh of this great nation's power brokers.

Let's hope it stays that way.

invisibleagent's picture
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Jinja's picture
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PP Post's article today blew the story wide open.
Voluntary censorship, except for a few hold-outs like MekongNet. Hmmm....
Cartoon: http://www.expat-advisory.com/articles/southeast-asia/blockedkh
Links and commentary @ http://www.quickdraw.me/692

Anthony Galloway's picture
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PP ppst piece on line? got a link as I am lazy?

felixdzerzhinsky's picture
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Which ISP's are still moronic enough to block the entire blogspot.com domain?

As of 3 March Metfone is still blocked. Any of the others still blocked?

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