July 9, 2009

Sign of times, online newspapers gaining ground

In another event, which was differentiate by the time of 8.30am for a breakfast presentation, I had seen the future and was impressed with how much online newspaper is currently gaining ground into the heart and mind of the Malaysian people. There is no newspaper company having to close down in Malaysia yet, unlike what I read in the United States, as most of the newspaper in Malaysia has the backing of some political party or company with very deep pocket. In line of liberalisation of news reporting, we are seeing a boom of news agency, either in radio or television or magazine or newspaper. My opinion is that newspaper is the most vulnerable being only able to be in the hand of the readers at least after 6 hours.


In a presentation by one of the founders of an online newspaper called Malaysiakini ('kini' meaning 'now!', as in recent), it was so enlightening and refreshing to see the interest shown by the audience that day. The event was held by an organisation called MIRC which is affiliate to a Chinese base political party called MCA which did not discriminate and allowed all to come, as long as you pay a very small fee for a breakfast (RM50-00/USD$14-00). The idea is to match investors with entrepreneurs, hence the event is called IEX or Investors and Entrepreneurs Exchange. It was my first time joining that session and most of the audience were technopreneurs, unlike me, who was there out of curiosity and wanting to network.

Intently listening

What I think sparked the interest of the attendee on the online newspaper presentation was the fact that they have been running a skeletal crew five years ago and embroiled in a lot controversy that saw them being dragged to police stations and courts with their frank news and in-your-face facts. They tell it like it is and they were the only online newspaper then. By 2008, in which Malaysia had a new awakening in politics, they were at the forefront and there were a few more online newspaper which tried to dethrone them. Although now people have to subscribe to get the full news, they still have a good readership base.

Data to digest and ponder

There was this one venture capitalist (most of the investors were VC) which is directly under the government. The government was one which had tried to close down this online newspaper when it was new. At the session I was in, the Deputy CEO was very interested in the data shown by Malaysiakini. When the numbers were given, he even asked a few clarification. I saw the interest in the face but knowing the mandate in which the government VC operates, I don't believe they will ever finance them.

It is just that it is impressive to see a new company capitalising on a first mover advantage. With a bit more patuience and promotion, I bet they can do more and even beat those pretenders down. Though the traditional newspaper do try to move online and is making their own success story, I bet Malaysiakini can persevere.

You can get  views from different people on this issue through this link here

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