Fresh News, innovative news: popularizing Cambodia’s authoritarian turn

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Abstract

This article seeks to advance understanding of how the new logics of an expanding digital media system can be mobilized in the service of authoritarianism, by tracing how an online news platform support the legal and discursive production of hegemonic authoritarianism in Cambodia. A state crackdown on independent media has been accompanied by the rise of private digital news outlet Fresh News, which has played a singular role in enabling, legitimizing, and seeking to craft support for Cambodia’s recent shift from competitive to hegemonic authoritarianism. Fresh News represents an authoritarian innovation which can be broken down into three main components: articulating a government-aligned definition of democracy which celebrates strongman rule and rejects liberal democracy; supporting an ongoing judicialization of Cambodian mega-politics; and disseminating a “fake news” discourse which seeks to achieve an epistemic shift. The ambiguous status of Fresh News as a private though overtly state-sanctioned enterprise is a key aspect of these authoritarian innovations, as it popularizes Cambodia’s authoritarian turn from the vantage point of an elusive distance from the state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-108
JournalCritical Asian Studies
Volume53
Issue number1
Early online date2020 Nov 22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Keywords

  • authoritarianism
  • Cambodia
  • digital media
  • hegemonic authoritarianism
  • news

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