JMSC graduate student Alexis Lai has dived right into her internship at the Phnom Penh Post with a front-page story on the Cambodian government’s year-old Anti-Corruption Unit.
The article, in which she shares a byline with two others, looks at the political machinations behind the ACU and discusses whether the unit’s structure protects those at the top rather than exposing them.
Lai said she was given the assignment on her first day at the job. “I appreciated the opportunity to cut my teeth on a substantial feature right off the bat,” Lai said. “My primary goal here is to hone my reporting skills, so writing this article was a good exercise. That it was published on the front page was the icing on the cake.”
Lai is serving a six-week internship as a reporter and sub-editor, working on the newspaper’s national news desk..
“To write the story, I reviewed Phnom Penh Post back copy and online materials to get apprised of the ACU’s activities. I also interviewed various government, legal and NGO sources to secure balanced commentary.”
Lai is enjoying her time in Cambodia and sees it as a contrast to the working environment of Hong Kong.
“It’s a challenge (but a good one) to report in an unfamiliar country, where you lack local knowledge and contacts and face a significant language barrier (I don’t speak Khmer),” she said.
“Obviously Phnom Penh’s infrastructure cannot be compared to that of highly-developed, affluent cities like Hong Kong, so you can’t take basic things like working phones, printers, and electricity for granted. So you’re forced to be resourceful.”
She credited the JMSC with preparing her for the role.
“My coursework provided me with a grounding in basic journalistic principles. On top of this, my internship at CNN.com International during the fall semester gave me the confidence and practical experience to dive head first into Phnom Penh Post newsroom, rather than being tentative.”