Category Archives: Media

I still want my own newspaper

I just read Huzir Sulaiman’s piece in last Sunday’s paper this morning.

The title of the article, In defence of newspapers, first caught my attention. Let’s face it, not many are quick to make statements siding with the print media these days.

Huzir wrote about how his perceptions about newspapers change as he gets older and understands better the workings of the industry.

A newspaper in today’s world, I gradually and painfully came to understand, is something that delivers readers to advertisers each morning, for many, many thousands of ringgit.

That’s the real point of a newspaper, all across the globe, and all good newspaper publishers know that. The cover price, be it in ringgit, euros, dinars or dong, is virtually irrelevant.

The economics of newspaper production are such that newspapers can only really make money from advertising, and so the focus of the endeavour shifts completely. The supposedly biased news that used to so offend my liberal sensibilities is, to be brutally frank, merely filler. It’s padding to make that advertising palatable. It’s the same with television: the programming is not the point. The programmes are merely the bits between the ads.

Advertising expenditure (adex) by corporations and government agencies is serious business for media organisations. The bigger slice of adex you can secure, of course, means bigger revenue for the company. Along the way, advertisers have a slight leverage on news coverage and the newsroom usually tolerate that the best it can.

Huzir ended his piece with an advice:

Let’s not pass the buck: if there is discontent with local newspapers, it is the job of the electorate at large to vote into power a government that repeals the laws that allow it to control or influence the press.

Then our newspapers would be free to take more critical positions – provided that they sold more copies, sold more ads, and generated more revenue thereby.

But if the people of the country don’t consider press freedom important enough to choose a government committed to it – if the voters don’t do their job – they can hardly turn round and blame the newspapers themselves for trying to stay in business.

Like I always say, ownership dictates policy.

An alliance forged

“Thanks for staying. I know it was hard for you.”

The things I do for old bosses.

– – –

Rocky now heads the pro-tem committee of the National Alliance of Media Bloggers. Jeff Ooi is the second in command, while Nuraina A. Samad is the secretary.

The meeting calling for the formation of the alliance took place earlier this evening at the National Press Club (of all places, hehe). I had reservations about going and I was right guessing that the attendance list will be made up of mostly of socio-political bloggers and those who are actively promoting the Bloggers United front. But then, feeling out of place is normal for me it’s almost a second skin.

According to Rocky, the two main reasons for the entity’s formation are to protect bloggers as well as to promote blogging. More details here and the full list of pro-tem committee members here.

Sheih, Raja Petra and Patrick Teoh were among those who spoke their views and shares their thoughts about blogging (of course) and what they hope to see come out of this new development.

My take:

This formal alliance will be something ‘real’, as opposed to the virtual Bloggers United front. They’re talking about being registered with the Registrar of Society, having its own building and a code of conduct.

It could end up an exclusive grouping, with the majority of the ‘anonymous’ bloggers on the fringes. Or it might not. It would be interesting to see how anonymous bloggers will be registered, if they wish to be a member. Boleh guna url or handle name ke?

One big issue is how it will promote responsible blogging. Many see blogging as an outlet to speak their minds, about everything, including what is considered sensitive issue or taboo.

However, it is still early days. Interesting times indeed.

At PWTC

In the Merdeka Hall, for the Perdana Global Peace Organisation’s seminar Expose War Crimes / Criminalise War.

A 10-year old girl selling sweets for charity at the media centre.

This guy is seriously HUGE.

Busy sungguh abang-abang kita

Dr. Chris Busby. A combination of Che and Dylan. He scored points with participants (and people at the media centre) when he sang a song at the end of his presentation. Dr Busby’s performance here. (Permission to reproduce for profit required)

Hacks and bloggers in one room. In foreground leaning on a chair, Sheih

Served with papers

Rocky, an old boss, said his blog has been served with an injunction, and he is being sued for libel by the NSTP, Kalimullah Hassan, Hishamuddin Aun, Syed Faisal Albar and Brendan Pereira.

Jeff Ooi and Screenshots have received similar papers as well.

An unprecendented development in the local blogging world. Support for the bloggers can be found at places such as this, this and this.

More commentaries:
Jeff Ooi/Rocky Bru sued – the far-reaching implications
Blocking Bloggers