Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Newsweek reminder for New Straits Times

Present and past of Newsweek one will never see anymore

On October 18th, Newsweek announced their last print edition for the December 31st issue. After 80 years, the US current affair magazine will only be available online.

In a joint statement from editor-in-chief Tina Brown and CEO Baba Shetty, they cited the reason to go digital as "not about the quality of the brand or the journalism" but economics.

"The challenging economics of print publishing and distribution" resulted in declining circulation and advertising, thus leading the second largest US news weekly magazine, behind Time into losses.

Newsweek decided to move to "a single, worldwide edition targeted for a highly mobile, opinion-leading audience" and "to take advantage of the swift growth in the use of tablets, online and e-readers." Read on in here and BBC News here.

This leads us to ponder on the future of News Straits Times (NST), a former local leading daily English newspaper but now trailing behind The Star.

As any other "brick and mortar" publishing company, NST is also faced with problems of declining circulation, competitive advertising revenue, and legacy of high cost. In addition, NST need to resuscitate it's journalism to it's former glory, meet the content expectation of the time, and makes its online presence.

Instead, the attention in NST is in filling up some vacancies arising from the departure of Group Editor (GE), Dato Syed Nadzri Syed Harun. Is it necessary?

It is usual for top corporate vacancies to attract stiff competition. However, this one has reached ridiculous height. There is unsavory back mouthing of one faction on the other, whoever the faction leaders and the candidates they are championing.

Despite being print media practitioners, they are quite adaptable in using digital devices and going on-line to do their modern day 'surat layang' or just outright bitching of each other. Either the faction members or candidate is being professionally ridiculed or their private life "stripped nude."

If it is restricted between them, tak apalah juga. Members of the press in other organisations and politicians' office bearers are dragged into their brickbats. It is like making a family quarrel into a neighbourhood squabble.

Why weren't they this intense when former Group Editor-in-Cheif, the evil Dato Kalimullah Masyerullah Hassan was laying the route to it's eventual demise?

NST of the past

Perhaps, it is timely for us as an independent observing outsider to remind them that they are no more their former self. They should be fighting hard to survive than squabbling over a position of no relevance.

Forget circulation numbers, since all established main stream media are facing revenue issues, either needing source/(s) of revenue or declining sales or advertising.

Face the fact that NST is only NST. There are no more other newspapers to manage like Business Times and The Malay Mail. Hindu God and Muslim priest sold one and swallowed another.

As the single daily English newspaper publication of Media Prima Berhad and News Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad (NSTP), it does not need to maintain a heavy top of Group Editor, Deputy Group Editor, Managing Editor, and various Executive Editors.

Scrap the GE and Deputy GE positions. The group does not exist any more.

In the first place, Group and Deputy Group Editor hardly had anything to do except perhaps write a column or two per month and pretend to be clever in meetings. In one incident in the past, it was rumoured that one Deputy GE was used as a typist to write for a former GEIC.

If the Board of Directors and Management of NSTP is thinking objectively, they should cut down the heavy over-head from this top heavy structure and let one person do the day-to-day managing of the editorial.

Present day NST

Oooo ... one can hear the resistance. Hear more.

At corporate level, why must the GEIC post be filled up from the English paper? Shouldn't it be coming from the Malay dailies.

The NSTP website's claim here as having 50% domination, 649,301 average daily copies sold and 4,350,000 visits to their website. Seriously, the main contributor is not the readers of English daily NST, but the readers of other leading dailies of the Group; namely the Malay newspapers, Berita Harian and Harian Metro.

Politically, NST is of no or little significance as compared to Berita Harian and Harian Metro. The Chinese and middle class readers of NST may not vote Barisan Nasional. NST readers contribute lesser votes and lesser "fixed deposit" value than readers of Berita Harian and Harian Metro.

The simplistic interpretation is NST's journalism is an ineffective voice for the government. It sound ridiculous but Harian Metro has more political value than NST. Offer it to Anwar Ibrahim and he will grab it before one can say sodomy.

Losing presence to the new skyline of Lembah Pantai
Now this the business side that NST bosses must hear us.

As a consumer of news, there is more reasons to buy Utusan Malaysia, Sinar Harian, and The Star than any NST newspapers.

Utusan's broadsheet feels like a newspaper. NST feels like any other political mosquito tabloids.

Sinar Harian is not considered mainstream yet but it's neutrality is appealing to the public. It is only a question of time that they will seriously encroach into Berita Harian territory.

Comparatively, The Star gives more news coverage than NST. The only hussle with The Star is the irritating chores of detaching the unnecessary sections and adverts from the cumbersome thick pile of newsprint.

At one time, NST closed it's political desk. Imagine that! Only an idiot fail to understand that the difference between one local daily and another lies in it's political news.

As far as the Business Times, it is hardly a shadow of it's past. Having read it regularly from early 80s, it's current physique and content ain't worth a peek. There are many other publications giving more insightful and relevant news and information on business, economics, and finance/investment.

Hope these members of the editorials, management and BoDs are reading and listening.

From the day Armenian, Catchick Moses bought a press and appointed Robert Carr Woods as editor to issue the first Straits Times in Singapore on July 15, 1845 till the present, NST is 167 years old. [See here.]

That is more than two times older than Newsweek. Newsweek already had an online presence before ending it's print edition. NST is hardly a local online player.

Do they catch the drift?


Servant of God said...

Very good points, and I agree with them.

Just one very minor quibble.

It's = It is.
Its = (to show possession)

Thank you. Keep up the good work.

A Voice said...

Servant of God

Thanks for the grammar correction. More help there. Dulu den sekolah Melayu. :(

mapsscom said...


IT.Sheiss said...

Moving online or digital (iPad, tablet) is no assurance of profitability and if the print edition of a newspaper dows not sell, do you think the same news and commentaries online will sell.

Take the Seattle Post Intelligencer for example. It was losing money since 2000 and was being propped up by the Seattle Times.

Then in March 2009, Seattle Times stopped propping it up and it had to drop print and continue online-only, and laid off hundreds of its staff.

Until today, the Seattle PI is not profitable and I understand some key journalists have left. It only survives because its parent company Hearst props it up.

With regards iPad & tablet publications, If you look through the links from 2010 till 2012 below you will see a pattern.

While iPad editions seem to be doing OK now, after an initial steep dip in downloads, they constitute a small proportion of overall print magazine circulation in the US and UK.

Here is some recent positive news regarding iPad magazines

Much of the very negative reports are dated 2010 or early 2011.

However, while Hearst believes iPad sales are the future, its own iPad
sales of 600,000 are still small compared to its combined print magazine
sales of 12 million. The report below is dated May 2012.

An interesting point which emerges from reports of magazine sales by
Conde Nast, Hearst, Future, etc is that while print newspaper sales are
dropping and newspapers are going out of business in the US, sales of
print magazines are still doing well.

See my blog on this topic at

IT.Sheiss said...

Further to my earlier comment.

Few online-only publications are profitable and among those few which are, how many make as much from advertising as print can.

I hardly read mainstream newspapers, wither in print or online.Sure, I'm reading your blog right now but do you get a sen for it?

The shift of readership from print to online is inevitable but publishers find themselves trapped in a dilemma of damned if they do, damned if they don't (move online).

Studies in the U.S. have found that for every dollar gained in online ad revenue, between $8 to $10 are lost in print ad revenue.

So how to sustain hundreds of journalists in reasonably well paid and secure employment like at The Star, NST, Utusan, Berita Harian, Sin Chew, the Tamil papers, etc?

While I haven't updated it recently, read my blog, where I have commented on the future of journalism as a viable paying career on which journalists can depend on for a living:-

Anonymous said...

Has someone been tampering the zeros in the circulation report to NST mgmt?

It is 70,000 not 700,000!

Anonymous said...

Bro ,too much politic being played in NST,they have no time to think business.Snce Junus Sudin until Now.

Anonymous said...


NST needs a Group Editor and a (new) Deputy Group Editor (the current one put there by Karimurah doesn't function at all).

What NST does NOT need is a Group Managing Editor!


IT.Sheiss said...

Basically, ANother Brick in the Wall,

I think the days of journalism as a viable paying career are coming to an end.

Lets look a brief history of the newspaper industry.

Running a print newspaper is a very expensive business, with printing presses costing millions of ringgit, newsprint costs, the cost of staff to operate and maintain them, pre-press costs, distribution costs, etc.

Before the Internet, only media with lots of money could afford to receive syndicated foreign news feeds over the wire - i.e. expensive leased telegraphic and data lines.

Thus print newspapers and magazines were gateways to news, which we waited for eagerly each morning, week or fortnight.

The advent of TV made a dent in newspaper circulation to an extent but they too were gateways to news, and we waited eagerly for the News at Ten.

So these gateways caoul reap huge advertising revenue and maintain hundreds of headcount which they paid reasonably well.

Now with the Internet, we can read news from the very organisations which syndicate it to the papers and TV. For example, we can watch the Obama Romney debates on You Tube for free and not have to wait for a second, third, fourth hand account in the newspapers or on TV.

Also, the explosion of blogs like yours have hugely diversified our choice of opinion and greatly divided available advertising between so many more sites, such that each one gets a rather small share of the pie.

Besides Malaysiakini which is breaking even, well barely, I believe none of the other "alternative" or pro-government sites make enough money to cover their operational costs, if they receive any revenue at all. I'm sure bloggers like you don't.

Many of these "alternative" news portals operate from rather posh offices in rather prestigious locations and pay their staff pretty well.

Without the rich sugar daddies financing them for political reasons, they would have closed shop a long time ago.

There will always be journalism but it will most likely be by writers like you who have some other source of income and write for free in your spare time.

That's the future of journalism as I see it.

ismail kerbau said...

30 thn dulu, bapa baca nst.

sekarang anak baca the star.

mana tak lingkup, apabila minat bapa tak diwarisi oleh anak.

nst kena decide, samada nak jadik political paper atau paper untuk semua?

Anonymous said...


TQ for the analysis. Well said. The best jobs in NST are to be the GE, Dep GE, ME & Associate Editors and any post ending with the word editor.

Everyday they get to ask the staff "what's the page one story for today", "what stories do you have".

Then sit in their rooms, going through their FB and update their status and tweet as many as possible.

At the same time, screen PM's schedule to ensure they don't miss PM's overseas trips to some exciting places.

Pick and choose as they wish which country they want to accompany the Prime Minister on his overseas trip. Two days days before the trip, they will start updating their FB and twitter "48 hrs before departing. Too tired to pack ."

24hr before departure, update again, "Here I come New York, London, Tokyo, Paris, Sydney"

Before departing, they will summon the balaci reporters, and ask "how many exclusive stories have you produced?"

the poor reporter returned to her desk feeling useless.. the next two days, the editor's byline appears on the paper writing from Sydney, Tokyo, New York.

How cozy the job is at our place.

For those interested to join NST, make sure you apply for a job with a designation ending with the word Editor.

Look for comfort.

wuzz said...

ANON 7:13pm

Waah. you must be one frustrated reporter.

aah...perhaps a half-baked reporter.

please tell your bosses that. if you dare.

you think that is all that editors do, huh?

and that will be what you do if you become an editor....IF...

pity you.

joha said...


okay analysis.

but people always think they know how to run the NST. how to make it better blah blah blah.

simple -- you can say lah that you dont need this and that editors...the point is NST has got political masters. for as long as the political masters act like they are the editorial CEO, you die.

There is not going to be another Pak Samad, ok. Pak Samad feared no one. Tun Razak didn't give him instructions. Tun Razak sought counsel from Pak samad.

He didn't give a damn about smart-ass ambitious politicians. he paid the price after Tun razak died.
see what happened to pak Samad after Tun died?
those who feared him swiftly plotted to bring him down - had him incarcerated, man.

GME or GEIC whatever you want to call them have to please their bosses. so many politcal bosses. or OUT THEY GO.

not easy, man. not easy.

Aaah...Harian Metro...very lucky editors. very lucky paper. don't have to worry about putting PM on front page.

lokki said...

anonymous 7.13PM fault the editors for facebooking and tweeting??
u live in a cave or what?
they should be facebooking and tweeting. they are journalists.
otherwise dont call yourselves journalists lah.
anon 7.13PM -you simplify their jobs, aah.
maybe becos you very simpleton.

mahmud said...

tumpang tuan haji,

to mr joha: he said -
"Aaah...Harian Metro...very lucky editors. very lucky paper. don't have to worry about putting PM on front page."

you mean very lucky .... don't have to worry about NOT putting PM on front page?

Tuan Haji -- if tomorrow you are editor of Harian Metro, the tabloid will still sell. It is given. Favourable environment for it -- sensational, sex, sleazy, bahasa melayu, blue-collar, untuk masses - no holds-barred, so to speak. apa saja boleh.
Who dont want to read headlines like "11 isteri kongsi 1 suami" or "Mama Bosan - wanita bawa anak main game 8 jam sehari or "Rawatan terangsang" -doktor umpan telefon cabul budak or "Kilang ghaib kena curi".....

but u want your kids to read it?
we are hypocrites. we buy the paper, we know the paper can be irresponsible. gambar orang mati. gambar bayi mati.. gambar accident yang ngeri.
yet keep it away from our kids.
we talk about Harian Metro's high circulation but do you think they can talk about the ethics of journalism? do you think you want to learn about journalism and newswriting from harian Metro's editors?

tuan haji -- NST faces constraints. they put picture of pandelela, nampak aurat - the home ministry calls up. they put picture of women just a little sexy, women's NGOs go up in arms against the editors. You put a picture of a dead person even though not gory, some NGOs will take issue. we carry too many crime stories and NST editors sure kena.

When Harian Metro started, advertisers shunned it. you know lah ad agencies all Chinese. Harian Metro paper Melayu which they they regarded as low-grade.

Never mind -- you go and ask your NST insider the history of it.

Bukan semalam yang Harian Metro jadi macam ni. Bertahun-tahun ...NSTP helped to prop it..continued to believe in it because it had a market.

anyway, what do i know...I'm just an outsider but with many friends in NST.

Anonymous said...

Will the next group editor be a najib man?
Or a muhyiddin man?

Anonymous said...

Anon 953

There are just too many muhyiddin men in nst...

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:14 AM

Najib must be dumb to appoint Muhyiddin men at key post in NST.

What a preposterous idea.

NST should be concern as to whom Kamrul Idris Zulkifli's pledge his allegiance to?

Bukankah dia orang Karimurah Masya Allah!

wira said...


di mana nak mula cerita?

dari bab kalimullah bermaharaja lela di NSTP sehingga nstp binasa tidak terpulih?

kami komen NST masakini lah. bab jalil ambil alih dari zainul ariffin sbeanga GEIC.

perlantikan zainul ariffin memang satu kesilapan yang costly. Hanya dilengkapi pengalaman sebagai pengarang business times -- secsyen akhbar NST -- beliau tiada pengalaman mengetuai sidang pengarang NSTP.

GEIC yang bertugas paling pendek di NSTP. Walaubagaimanpun beliau di berhentikan lebih kerana politik.

Masuk pula si Jalil yang langsung tiada pengalaman dalam suratkhabar. langsung tiada.

Beliau di anggap orang suruhan Putrajaya. selepas Zainul Ariffin, ramai yang berpendapat yang GEIC NSTP wajib seorang yang bisa mengambil dan mengikut arahan dari Putrajaya.

Ramai jugak terkejut sebab teringat kesilapan beliau semasa bertugas dengan sebuah unit gelap pejabat Perdana Menteri. Email beliau di bocor. sungguh memalukan.

Beliau tidak "confident" sebagai GEIC. Banyak kesilapan. umpama nya mengambil orang baru yang tiada kewibawaan sebagai wartawan atau pengarang sepert Aziz Othman, orang kanan Hishamudin Aun (orang kanan kalimullah).

Azizi memegnag jawatan tinggi di NSTP. Kata nya jawatan yang khas diadakan. Khabar nya ramai yang tidak senang.

Orang yang tidak confident atau tidak secure senang dikelilingi orang yang kurang "hebat" daripada dirinya.

Saudara -- tanya lah deep throat saudara di NST siapa yang Jalil akan syorkan untuk mengisi jawatan group editor. Pasti calon Jalil seorang yang tidak hebat dan mediocre.

NST memang sudah tidak penting lagi sebab yang di lantik mengetuai akhbar orang yang tiada pengalaman, yang tidak di hormati di kalangan wartawan-wartawan dan tiada kewibawaan langsung.

yang sedih bukan tiada calon yang hebat dan bagus. Tetapi bukan ini yang dikehendaki.

Yang di kehendaki atau diperlu ada lah "yes-man".

Sedih. Amat sedih.

Anonymous said...

The best journalists in NST have left for more credible newspapers leaving only the rubbish and overpaid. Even then, the valuable and loyal ones who are assets are ice-boxed to suppress their effectiveness. They can't even confirm a death of an important personality until another news agency announces it. One time, the southern section failed to cover the UMNO President's speech during an anniversary while the lesser known Utusan and Bertia Harian managed to do their duty. Do the people in NST forget who their paymasters are? Sometimes I think the top people in NST are trying to sabotage the very people who sign their pay cheques, so to speak,ie UMNO. The Media department in the Prime Minister's Office better take notice of this before NST turns into a sabotaging Parasite! It is time UMNO cleansed the entire top management, let the junior editors take over and watch NST flourish heading the right direction of serving their political masters instead of bleeding the organization.

Anonymous said...


credible newspapers?
The Star, the Malay Mail, the Sun?

They are no more credible than the NST...if you're going that way.

True -- some of the best journos have left the NST.

But not all who left were the among the best. Not all who remained are bad. Neither are they more loyal than those who had left.

Not true that the junior editors can do a better job.

We know that the editors' hands are tied.

Let's be real -- the editors running the papers are just as "boxed". And they are not overpaid.

As someone said --- everyone thinks they can do better at running the nST.

Dream on.

what we need are dyynamic people in the marketing and circulation departments.

Or forget Putrajaya.

Anonymous said...

for as long as you have clowns as the GME or GEIC - NST will get nowhere.

Right now NST has a GME who knows nuts about operating a newspaper.

I hear that he looks at The Star as comparison, freaking out if the Star has a particular story that NSt does not have.

And he jumps whenever someone - anyone - complains about something in the paper.

This guy - Jalil - is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Going by the comments here, it seems nobody currently in the NST is fit to run the newspaper. Ok, lets say we accept that. Can someone then please suggest a candidate? Or even candidates to run the entire news operations for that matter? Irregardless of where he/she/they are from, we'll accept lah as long as the current editorial lineup in the paper are replaced. Then we shall see how the NST would fare. If it improves by leaps and bounds, then we shall keep the new lineup. If not we shall subject them to the same redicule as though their mothers made a mistake in giving birth to them. But first, suggest lah. Jangan lah criticise saja.

Anonymous said...

Anon 239

Jalil, a joker?

You should know nst better. My sympathy for jalil. To nst warlords, any outsider is a joker to them.

Jalil will never be allowed to do his job at nst. There will be sabotage. There will backbiting. There will be backstabbing. There will be pretenders. There will hypocrites.

Thats nst for jalil. The only mistake jalil has committed his delay (read too slow) in changing the guards.

There are a few things jalil should do before he could ever have a chance to turn around nst.

1. Remove the has beens in nst. Start with the contract staff.

2. Nst is top heavy. Scrap some positions. Majority of them are passengers - merely making a living out of nst without any contributions to the company.

3. Cane them. Some of the editors are playful. Too many arm chair commentators . Just look at their commentary pieces.

4. Make everybody at the office work. Most of the times they ask for higher pay, higher bonuses. But where's the quality of work? Editors turn up late for work. Attend ceremonial functions. Travel too much when they should put their heart and soul to the paper. Bar the editors from travelling. Jalil must make them work their butt out. Think and think for the paper. Churn ideas and not just sitting there waiting for ideas to fall from the sky.

5. Reward those who deserve the rewards. It is a surprise that despite selling 70k a day, nst is generous with the non commital staff. Any other company would have wag the staff.

6. Jalil should be aware his guys are playing politics. Bring in outsiders who can work for him, die for him. Never rely on the present crops whom their sincerity is a big question mark. Learn from kallimullah hassan who brought it his generals to die for him. Dont believe the sweet talkers. They will stab you in the back.

7. Beware of outside influence.. Trying to seize control by putting their men. Dont be blinded by promises.never fall in their traps.

All the best jalil

asiah said...


hello.. you're talking cock, man.

of course jalil is a joker. is a joke.

anyone who shivers when he gets a call from some umno operative and tells the editor to make sure to carry the story or to worry if rosmah's story and photo are not used, or..
come on lah.
when the job is too much for you and you don't listen to your editors who select stories and photos based on the newsworthiness of the story or pix -- altho the editors know that some things you just have to do because that is the NST - some things are non-negotiable.
but for jalil - his job depends on it.
thnak God for the datukship, huh? doing things for Sabah paid back.
now...isn't he a joke?
hello, his guys don't play politics. but if they are affected by his stupid decisions or if they have little respect for hikm -- ok go get outsiders.
outisiders? like who, aah?

yah yah -- and jalil and the outsiders will improve the NST.

you sure talk cock, man..

and how lah this guy...when he dumped his wife just like that and gives instructions to the secruity guard to make sure his wife/first wife/ex-wife does not come into the NST?

this guy can't even treat the mother of his kids right, man.

yep. he is a joke.

yoda said...

mr brick,

kesian lah NST.

i think jalil is working for kalimullah to ruin the NST. that's why he brought in azizi othman, hishamudin aun's sidekick and hihsamudin is kalimullah's sidekick.

Anonymous said...


The Star is more credible in that their top guns leave politics to MCA not like in NST where the politics in there is worse than in the political party that owns them!? In the Star, the employees don't work against each other but work for one common goal, for their newspaper, not for themselves drawing maximum possible income for minimal and second work journalism.

Please don't justify the inefficiency of NST by saying that not all who've left are good and not all that stayed are bad. Bottomline is, their sales figure sucks and is declining. It reflects on the quality of those who are entrusted to run it.

As much as I despised the Indian Muslim who ran it before under Abdullah Badawi, at least we knew that he was a saboteur. Even under him the sales were almost double the number today under a team who is supposedly for and under the "payroll" of UMNO and BN. Evidently, those running NST today are not batting for UMNO but are sabotaging it and the PM while bleeding the organization.

It may not be true that the junior editors can do a better job, but that is yet to be proven. What is already proven is that the overpaid deadbeats in NST today have failed miserably! SO what do you propose? Let them suck NST dry with perks and privileges running it down to the ground having the other companies within the group to support the lifestyles of the high flying top editors some more?

If the editors' hands are tied. It's because they are bound by those at odds running it within. Not guys from Putrajaya. You have people like Jalil giving instructions while another character in there is giving orders to undermine him confusing the employees with who is actually running the show.

If someone did say that he or she can do better at running the NST, I'd bank my money on him or her because at the rate they are going with qualified people but with no imagination while being too comfortable in their jobs thinking UMNO owes it to them, even an average Joe who has been a loyal reader for 30 years could do better!!!

By saying that what you " need are dynamic people in the marketing and circulation departments," you are agreeing with the fact that these top editors don't have the brains to even think that way and how to implement them. Identifying your weakness and acting on a known strength are two different things. You can't identify your weakness and do nothing but hope that the strength will come by itself!

I hope the Media Department at the Prime Minister's Office reads this and stay on the bloody ball instead of dreaming big dreams just because they are placed in close proximity with the Prime Minister himself!

Clean Up NST of overpaid deadwoods if you want to save UMNO and the BN!!! They are over-rated! As bad as Pak Lah's leadership was, at least he had better sense to kick them out before!

Anonymous said...

anon 12:34AM;

you think The Star editorial alone is pushing the circulation?

hello -- better believe it - Star marketing and circulation doing the job maa.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 12.34AM - so who are the deadbeats?
and who are the junior editors who
can do the job.

1. jalil
2. nuraina
4. mustapha
5. sharif
6. lionel
7. fauziah

can bureaus chiefs..

so who are u talking about?

of course it is true, the paper can probably run by itself...on auto pilot..haha/

but you know -- a paper is what the leader is.

leader got no balls.

paper also got no balls.

some of the seasoned editors worked with editors with balls. they have fought battles, man.

kalimullah and his machais better?

no better..but we know that kalimulah was in control of NSTP.

My Say