Nieman Fellow Seeks to Inspire Female Peers

Female journalist Bopha Phorn is the first Cambodian fellow at the Nieman class of 2023 in the US. She is hoping her story will inspire her peers that hard work and determination pay off in the pursuit of success
Bopha Phorn
Bopha Phorn

Bopha Phorn, a first Cambodian fellow at the Nieman class of 2023 in the United States, hopes her courageous work and fellowship will inspire other women in the country to follow suit and serve as proof that by working hard, women can also be successful.

Bopha, 38, is among 24 journalists from around the world who was selected by the Nieman Foundation to spend a year studying at prestigious Harvard University.

Bopha is the first Cambodian attending the Nieman class of 2023. She is among others who report on Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Mexico, Nigeria and Hong Kong – countries where press freedom is tightly restricted or under attack and in dire need of external support.

“I am very happy and excited. I hope with me being here, it will encourage other women to work hard and be able to come here also,” Bopha told Kiripost. “So, they will have opportunities to receive education and network with other journalists from different countries.

“I think Cambodian women have a lot of potential in promoting education and helping provide income for families, in which we can also help the country as well as the image of the workplace by working hard.”

Bopha said that as the fellow, she has many opportunities to study to strengthen her own capabilities. She added that she was able to choose from thousands of courses to study, either at Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or Tufts University.

In the first semester, which is drawing to a close, Bopha said she chose to study subjects unrelated to journalism, such as human and technology evolution. She also studies narrative nonfiction, essay, history and practice, technology, behavior and human evolution.

When she returns to Cambodia, Bopha hopes to continue working as a journalist and is considering entering teaching.

Bopha is a freelance journalist and has written for Al Jazeera, Nikkei Asia and Voice of America. She worked at the now-shuttered Cambodia Daily and has won the International Women’s Media Foundation’s 2013 Courage in Journalism Award.

Prior to Covid, Bopha worked at the American Broadcasting Company based in New York.