|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 NBC.com 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|
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?