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What a Mirror Does: to Reflect and to Highlight

By: Norbert Klein Posted: September-15-2010 in
Norbert Klein

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 681

Apologies for the delay: written in Phnom Penh – posted only from Germany.

Norbert Klein

The recent changes in the production and display of The Mirror brought a stream of reactions – mostly in direct mail – but there were also Comments from a reader and my responses, right on this site. Some readers may have followed these exchanges, which I consider very valuable, so that I bring them up here, for a wider exposure, as they can help also a wider readership to engage in this Discussion. As financial restraints have resulted in a fundamental change in The Mirror, it is useful to know how you, the readers, see the past, and also the future. Of course I have also my own views, to which readers have responded in the past, by a steadily increasing the number of visits – there were up to 10,000 visitors per month before the change.

The Mirror was, since 1997, trying to do what the name said: to mirror, through translations from Khmer to English, major trends in the Khmer language press. The name chosen was to underline a basic effort – similar to the function of a real mirror – to reflect. We tried to make it clear: The Mirror was not an effort to support any political party, neither the government nor the opposition, because a mirror reflects everything without preference or discrimination. But on the other hand: a mirror may also reflect light, and depending on the direction it is held and moved, it may high-light and make some things more easily visible, wherever this reflected beam of light is directed to.

So it was no wonder that, over the years, when some readers who picked up only some isolated sections of the news, they came to wrong conclusions. Over the years, I was suspected to be paid by the Cambodian People’s Party, or to be paid by “the opposition” – and most lately: “surely this British citizen [actually I am German] is paid by the British educated Thai Prime Minister Abhisit” for spreading Thai propaganda in Cambodia.” – None of them paid or encouraged me otherwise any time; but I took these false accusations as a good sign. They were proof that the effort to mirror widely and broadly what we saw in the media, without a narrow selection of preferred positions, seemed to work well.

Now our past basic material – daily translations from the Khmer language press – could not be maintained.

While I had to stop using this specific instrument of mirroring, I was also encouraged to try to continue sharing observations and focusing attention on them, no longer based on daily translations, but just based on my own observations and reflections. I try to do so, also in future: not only sharing personal opinion, but relating it to reports I observe in the media, in print, and on the Internet.

This requires also to develop a new style for The Mirror in its present form.

However, I want to maintain the basic posture: to mirror, as described above. I appreciate the encouragement that I should produce more of my own analysis and not just describe challenges, but – as was suggested to me – to “write something that is more thought provoking and straight to the point… I feel your articles are very similar to those of the opposition newspapers, but more civilized. plentiful but ineffective.”

I rather want to continue what I tried in the past. To collect information and to point to events and facts and dynamics. That is what a mirror can do. But this cannot become effective by itself, because, as the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says: the “Cambodian people are the masters of their own country.” Whatever becomes effective becomes so only by the people. The Mirror wants to stay always clear in this respect: to highlight observations – and to let it to the readers, the people, to decide what is useful and what is not.

I will try to relate to specific observations during the week, and to take up more general considerations on Sundays.

Comments, and Comments to Comments, leading to Discussions, are welcome any day. Such public dialogue may lead to social practice – to contribute to this has been our hope since the beginning of The Mirror in 1997.

This article was first published by The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 681 - Sunday, 12.9.2010
Have a look at the last editorial - you can access it directly from the main page of The Mirror.

Norbert Klein is the Editor of The Mirror – The Mirror is a daily comprehensive summary and translation of the major Khmer language press - More about The Mirror


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