Papers need to keep up with the times, say publishers

KUALA LUMPUR: Newspaper publishers have to evolve in order to keep up with market trends and audience interest.

This was the message that was conveyed at the 2015 Malaysian Newspaper Publishers Association (MNPA) Forum here. The panel consisted of The Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, Kumpulan Media Karangkraf chief operations officer Syamil Fahim Mohamed Fahim, Crush Communications managing director, 4As council member and Audit Bureau of Circulations chairman Karthi Palanisamy, Malaysian Advertisers Association special adviser and Nestle Products Malaysia communications director Khoo Kar Khoon and AirAsia Bhd head of commercial Spencer Lee Teck Leong.

The MNPA, chaired by News Straits Times Press (M) Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Mohammad Azlan Abdullah, has 17 members with 31 titles and publications under it.

“Although we have moved on from being a newspaper producer to being a media group, we do recognise that it is print that pays the bills and it is good money,” said Wong, adding that the revenue drop in 2014, which was said to be a difficult year, was only 1%.

“That said, the way to move forward is to develop strategic partnerships.

“Ultimately, media players need to reinvent themselves as a group. Newspapers and online portals are challenged and scrutinised every day. Furthermore, the public’s interest has changed. Therefore, we journalists need to change how we work,” Wong said.

Among challenges of print media that were discussed were monetising content in a time where free content was rampant.

Addressing the challenging media landscape moving forward, Azlan urged publishers who have yet to enrol to join forces to address issues together.

“We have quite a few we need to tackle together,” said Azlan.

“For the past many years, the MNPA has only been addressing the issue of anti-dumping but it has now been lifted by the authorities. Our recent achievement was to get the newspaper to be a zero-rated item under the goods and services tax (GST).”

He urged other publishers to join the MNPA to collectively address issues in distribution, logistics as well as vendor and partner matters rather than handle them company by company.

Azlan said the MNPA’s priority this year would be to reorganise its exco committee in an effort to reposition MNPA so as to be more proactive in educating the public on various issues such as the impending GST.

Source: The Star