Sokkheang Sorn is a video producer. She has worked in the media field since 2013, starting from volunteering at a non-governmental organization in Phnom Penh. Sokkheang has developed her interest in media and communication after listening to her friend’s experience in this field. She has worked with the radio and TV stations in Phnom Penh. Currently, she is a producer of two programs, including Khmer Insider and The Legacy.
[Below is the interview’s translation which is edited for clarity]
Q: Hello Sokkheang! How are you?
Sokkheang: I am doing well.
Q: How have you been so far recently?
Sokkheang: I am a bit occupied recently. I have many roles these days—mother, wageworker, students, and everything at home. I am a daughter. I need to do housework such as dishwashing, cleaning, cooking, and so on. I don’t know how to tell you how much works I have been doing. I can only describe it as a great amount of work for a woman.
Q: How do you manage your time?
Sokkheang: I need time to think about how I manage my 24 hours. In the morning, I prepare food and school outfits for my kid. I am fortunate because my father is retired, so that he sends my kid to school. Before his retirement, I have sent my kid to school. I work in the media sector so that I have more flexible working hours. I can go to the office in some late hours. I just need to inform my boss of my plan; for instance, I will meet a client today and will go to the office at this or that hour. I am a mother in the evening. I study at the weekend.
Q: Are you busy these days?
Sokkheang: I am pretty occupied these days. I just started a new role at a new workplace. I am a video producer. I lead two programs. The first one is Khmer Insider, focusing on the startup business of young people. Another program is the business profiles of those who are successful in business.
Indeed, my expertise is writing feature stories. I continue doing that in a new workplace. I just developed my skills to be a producer. I can be more creative in the new workplace. I am not exhausted physically, yet I will need to think more in-depth in a new workplace. I need to bring in new ideas. I read and watch a lot. I need to make sure that my video can attract the audience and viewers.
Q: When did you start working in this sector?
Sokkheang: I started in 2013. I was a volunteer at COMFREL. I didn’t know what media was. My supervisor managed a radio program. We invited speakers to talk every morning. He asked me to test speaking on the radio. I enjoyed doing that. When I spoke out, I felt relaxed. When I wrote an article, I didn’t have that feeling. I started my career from there.
After I left that volunteer job, I write online articles for other organizations. Then, I joined a radio station that lived video on social media. Later on, I joined a TV network where I have worked for more than six years. I just started a new role at a new workplace for about two months.
Q: Why are you interested in working in the media sector?
Sokkheang: When I was in grade 12, I didn’t know about media. My knowledge came from my surrounding. I studied at two universities. I studied English at one university and Tourism at another university. I wanted to involve myself with nature, so I studied tourism. It was different from what I expected. After graduation, I worked on hotel management. I worked there for one month. I could not develop myself in that sector. For instance, I felt pressure when I brought food or snacks to the tourists a bit late. They asked me that why I brought food to them lately (not in a polite way). I didn’t like that work.
At another university, I studied International Relations. I have studied it for four months. Then, I saw my friends holding the camera and other production equipment. I asked my friend about it. They told me what they were doing. I liked that, and I enrolled to study media and communication.
After a few semesters, I could choose my major. I chose journalism. I was the only one in my class to study journalism because I liked writing and listening to other people’s stories. I learned a lot through listening to other people’s stories. My classmates selected majors such as production agency, photography, video production, and so on. I was the only one choosing journalism. I graduated alone. But I enjoyed it because I volunteered during my study. I had fun with it.
Q: Is that difficult as a woman working in the media sector in Cambodia?
Sokkheang: It is very challenging. I would like to separate my work into three stages, such as being single, getting married, and having a baby. When I was single, I was not recognized by others. When I had missions, people always asked me where I was from. Now it is different. I look more mature. If I go to get information, those organizations recognize me.
I also see it as an opportunity in the sector. When resource persons hear women’s voices, they are more likely to listen to us. When I worked with the radio station, I communicated with speakers online. When I worked at the TV station, I met speakers face to face. The relationship started with us whether we were on time or late. I talked straight forward and respected them. I consulted with them whether or not they were comfortable with questions.
There was not so challenging when I was single. I faced more challenges after I got married. If you are a single anchor, viewers watch your news. If you post a picture on Facebook, you gain more views. It is a bit funny.
When I was pregnant, I lost many opportunities on screen. I could only work behind the scenes. I wasn’t looking good on TV anymore, even though I had heavy makeup. When the station created new programs, I didn’t get an opportunity to take part in them. The station told me that you can rest and should not work hard. I wanted to do more even though my physical health was not as good as I was single.
When I was pregnant, I faced that type of challenge. I faced various challenges after delivering a baby. It was a boring 3-month period for me. I wanted to read and access my phone. Older adults told me that I was not allowed to watch a movie on the phone or TV. I was not allowed to touch electronic devices. I could not go out. It was so stressful.
I started working on a freelance project after delivering the baby one and a half months. I asked my mom to work on those projects. I told her that I wanted to work and touch my computer. I told her I wanted to know what happened in society. I worked as a freelancer with a private company for about two months. Then, I returned to my workplace.
It is difficult for women to work in this field. I don’t know the exact number of women in the area. I think it should be a small number. Sometimes, women didn’t want to work in journalism. After graduation, they work on something else because journalism faces challenges. However, I have seen an increase in terms of the number of women in this field recently.
Q: How do you overcome challenges?
Sokkheang: My family and husband encouraged me to go through a tough time. The most important thing is self-motivation. I meditate at night. I listen to Buddha’s story as well. I practiced that from the beginning of my pregnancy until today. I read books and write about those books on my blog. I talk to my mentor as well. I can consult my personal life with my mentor. My mentor also has a husband and children. She supports me a lot. My husband pays attention to me. My mother takes good care of me. I am like a queen at home.
During my pregnancy, I learned new things on Youtube as well. At that time, I knew how important exercise was. When I was single, I didn’t care about exercise. Because of exercise, I could deliver a baby naturally. I have learned a lot during pregnancy.
Q: How did you get a mentor?
Sokkheang: I joint women event or network event. When we meet someone who we feel comfortable, it is easy to connect. One day, I messaged her at around 10 or 11 pm, and she replied my message. After giving me advice, she asked what I think about that. I told her that I feel good after hearing that. She followed up with me in the next morning. She asked me how I was. She was very humble. It connected us. We have developed our relationship since then. We needed to spend time selecting our mentors. It is not for one or two days. If we can find someone listening to us and giving us advice, it is one of the best things in life. We should maintain that relationship.
Sometimes, she also needs my support. For instance, she needed me to read her books and give her feedback. We help each other. When we get help without paying any money, that is the best support ever in life.
Q: How to get the right mentor?
Sokkheang: We need to be innovative and go out there to find one. We need to learn how to observe and listen to people. For instance, we joined a workshop on self-motivation, and someone shared their perspectives on somethings. If that person is open-minded, we can ask him/her questions. We can ask him/her whether we can ask questions. We can request their info such as email, Telegram, or Facebook to communicate with them later. We can also ask them whether they are okay with questions related to personal issues, work and family, etc. Sometimes, you can get a person who offers their time for you. Sometimes, they are open-minded people, but they don’t have time for you.
It is also related to personal branding as well. You may want to give them your business card during break time. If we don’t have a card, we can just go and introduce ourselves. We need to let them know who we are first. Then, we can stay in touch with those people.
If you want to get a mentor, you should participate in a social event to learn about those people.
Q: If young women want to work on media, what would you tell them?
Sokkheang: You need to ask yourself whether you like it or not. You should also research the field, such as what major you should study and what type of work you would like to do. You can write it down. Then, you should ask yourself again what kind of job you would like to do. Do research again and again because you will spend four years studying it.
I observe that some people do not know what to do after graduation from a media major. I want to tell young people that it is easy for you to get the right job if you know what you are doing. If you study hard and pay more attention to that field, you will get a good result. If you hesitate, you should do more research and join youth clubs.
I want to create a women’s journalism club in the future. I want all women journalists to join the club. I want to create it in 2022 because this year, I am working on its preparation.
Q: Do you have any messages for young women?
Sokkheang: For young women who want to study this field, I recommend them to learn about the media field and do more research. They can ask for more information from universities and schools that offer that type of course. They can study with some organizations that provide media courses as well. If you are a teenager, you can join an event or workshop. The organizer wants to have young people in their program.
Young women should be confident in themselves and keep learning. Nothing is important than knowledge. Even though I have a baby, I continue learning. I am not good at it, but I study hard. There is nothing more significant than hard work. I encourage women to complete their high school and higher education.
Q: Thank you very much, Sokheang!