Kyle James

journalist/writer/media development consultant

January 6, 2015
by Kyle James
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Radio is hip again, take a listen

(photo: flickr/Bent Kure CC:BY-NC-SA)

(photo: flickr/Bent Kure CC:BY-NC-SA)

Published on onMedia on 21 Nov. 2014

The death of radio has been predicted many times in the past decades but guess what? Radio still isn’t dead. On the contrary, it’s booming. It’s true people may not own as many radios as they used to but on the other hand, they are carrying this century’s version of a transistor radio – their smartphones – around with them in their pockets. And these magical listening devices give people the chance to hear a huge variety of radio shows and podcasts when and where they want to.

But besides new convenience, it’s also the extraordinary quality of many new radio programs that’s causing people to tune in to radio again. onMedia’s Kyle James takes a look what is being considered a new golden age of radio. Continue Reading →

January 6, 2015
by Kyle James
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Cambodia: How Data Lowers Poverty

Cambodians at a forum on falling rice prices (photo: Kyle James)

Cambodians at a forum on falling rice prices (photo: Kyle James)

Published in Digital Development Debates in Nov. 2014

Falling rice prices strongly affect the rural poor in Cambodia. Open data and freer information flows help farmers to deal with it.

Cambodian rice farmer Ly Prim is stuck in a vicious circle she doesn’t know how to break. Low rice prices have hit her income directly, meaning she doesn’t make enough to pay back loans she took out at the season’s start. “Adding up the cost of seeds, fertilizer and manpower, I can’t even break even,” she says. She also has no money to buy better seeds that might improve her crop, and finds herself facing a mounting pile of debt. Her story is not unique: As she spoke at a public forum in late May, the heads of those around her nodded in agreement. Continue Reading →

April 3, 2014
by Kyle James
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Fighting iron deficiency in Cambodia with a little iron fish

Photo: Kyle James

Photo: Kyle James

(Aired on DW’s World in Progress on 2 April 2014)

In Cambodia iron deficiency is a serious problem. More than half of children under the age of five are anemic. A new method to reduce iron deficiency is now gaining attention. It involves a small iron fish that can be put into cooking pots. Early tests have been encouraging. If it proves a success, the simple method to boost iron intake could be exported to countries around the world.

March 7, 2014
by Kyle James
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Punk and Hardcore in Cambodia

Pic No Forever

Photo: Yab Moung Records

(Aired on Monocle 24 on 24 Feb. 2014)

In the 1960s, popular music in Cambodia was coming into its own. Cambodian artists took western pop, surf rock and even psychedelia and blended them with homegrown Khmer influences. But that experiment came to a crashing halt in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge came to power. Artists and musicians were especially targeted by the genocidal communist regime—most died or fled the country. When the Khmer Rouge was overthrown in 1979, music and the arts in Cambodia had been all but destroyed. Now a small group of young Cambodians are rediscovering their voices and forging something new. It’s in the form of punk, metal and hardcore music, genres completely unknown by most people in this traditional society. From the capital Phnom Penh, Kyle James takes a closer look at the country’s small but growing headbanger scene.

February 13, 2014
by Kyle James
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Cambodia garment worker dreams of better future

Photo: Kyle James

Photo: Kyle James

(Posted on DW.de on 12 Feb. 2014)

Garment factories are the backbone of Cambodia’s economy, yet the people working the sewing machines make just a few dollars a day. Chem Chan is one of them, who despite hardship holds out hope for a better life.

On Sunday, the Prek Tea traditional market near Phnom Penh’s airport is alive with the sounds of shouting vendors, TVs in cafés and the busy cleavers of fruit sellers. Chem Chan is in the middle of all this controlled chaos, shopping and running errands. Sunday is the only day she can take care of practical matters. During the other six days of the week, the 25-year-old is sitting behind a sewing machine in one of the many garment factories in the area. Her days start when she gets up at 5 a.m. and often end when she leaves the factory at 8 or 10 p.m. Continue Reading →

February 12, 2014
by Kyle James
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Dynamite fishing threatens Cambodia’s seahorses

Photo: MCC

Photo: MCC

(Posted on DW.de on 8 Jan. 2014)

Destructive fishing practices have decimated the once abundant seahorse population in Cambodia. One organization has stepped in to save the fragile animals by boosting marine conservation and education.

On a dock jutting into the cobalt-blue waters of Koh Rong Samloem, an island two hours by boat off the Cambodian coast, divers check their tanks before heading underwater. They are volunteers with Marine Conservation Cambodia (MCC), a group that documents the seabed and animal life off the island, which was once teeming with seahorses. Continue Reading →

February 12, 2014
by Kyle James
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New protest crackdown in Cambodia

Photo: Kyle James

Photo: Kyle James

(Posted on DW.de on 27 Jan. 2014)

Riot police were recently deployed in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh to break up anti-government protests. The crackdowns are part of an escalating standoff between officials and those calling for democratic reform.

The January 26 demonstration, announced by nine unions and associations, was in defiance of a government ban on rallies and marches imposed after a deadly confrontation between protesters and police in early January. The organizers, who have been demanding higher wages for garment workers and the release of 23 people detained by authorities, were expecting up to 10,000 demonstrators at Freedom Park, a free-speech area in the capital Phnom Penh. Continue Reading →

February 4, 2014
by Kyle James
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Protest crackdown (radio feature)

Photo: Kyle James

Photo: Kyle James

In Cambodia, the political temperature is rising. Protests against the government are becoming more frequent as calls for democratic reform grow louder. Demonstrations began last summer after controversial national elections that many observers say were flawed. These days, more and more everyday people appear to be tired of the status quo and are willing to publicly demand change—at considerable personal risk. Kyle James found out how protesters are coming up against security forces at a protest last week in the Cambodian capital.

(Aired on DW’s Worldlink on Feb. 2, 2014)

February 4, 2014
by Kyle James
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Saving Cambodia’s seahorses (radio feature)

Photo: MCC

Photo: MCC

Cambodia’s ocean waters shelter a rich diversity of marine life and is home to large populations of seahorses, which live in the reefs and among sea grasses. But destructive fishing practices have taken a toll on the habitats of these unique animals. Several years ago, seahorse numbers began to plummet. But thanks to the efforts of a seahorse enthusiast, these fish stand a chance again – and marine conservation in Cambodia has gotten a boost.

(Aired on DW’s Living Planet on Jan. 16, 2014)

March 29, 2013
by Kyle James
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Rejected at home in the US, poet embraced by Olympics

Kosal Khiev

Kosal Khiev

(Published in The Advisor on May 3, 2012)

It was something of a bolt out of the blue. One day, Cambodian-American spoken-word artist Kosal Khiev got a call from Studio Revolt, where he’s currently the artist-in-residence. They needed to talk to him.

Next thing he knew, he found out he had been chosen to be Cambodia’s representative at the Poetry Parnassus, the poetry component of the literary festival that will be held in the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games. It’s the largest event of its kind.

“I never saw it coming,” the 32-year-old said, adding that to this day, he doesn’t know who nominated him. “I think that’s just amazing that you can have an impact on people that you don’t know you have.” Continue Reading →