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Joint efforts help spread the news in Asia

( China Daily ) Updated: 2016-05-31 08:20:38

Editor's note: As media executives from the Asia News Network convene in Beijing for their annual meeting, China Daily reporters talk to some of the participants, seeking their insights into the challenges Asian media face, working concepts, cooperation among ANN members and how they help to defuse regional political tensions.

Q1: How successful has the ANN been with the concept of Asia reporting on Asia?

Q2: Most ANN members are print media, so how are we facing the challenges in the new-media era?

Q3: Are there any other challenges facing the ANN?

Q4: How do ANN members plan to collaborate on reporting major stories?

Q5: How does the ANN try to defuse political tensions in this region?

Warren Fernandez, editor, The Straits Times

A1: I think it's come a long way from the time we started. We now share content across all our partners, and each paper is free to use it in any way, shape or form it finds useful. The Straits Times uses it both for pint, for online and for our website. It's very good to have a perspective from around the region, a view of how things are playing out in each country, which adds ... to the coverage.

Joint efforts help spread the news in Asia

A2: In the past, as a newspaper, we had only one point of contact with the readers in the morning, and for the rest of the day we had no link with them. But today, because they are looking at us on the website, on their phones, and at home on their tablets. I have multiple links to the readers. And as I'm constantly updating content, they are reading my content throughout the day. I see it as a tremendous opportunity, where we can grow audiences and increase engagement with them.

A3: We really have to find out how we can set up our content-sharing. It's not just about sharing news, it's also about sharing views, and interpreting what is going on in other parts of the world. I think the audience is very hungry for an Asian understanding of what is going on, no matter if it is in China, India, Saudi Arabia, or elesewhere in Asia. I think our audience wants to know how our own people make sense of an event. So we'd like to see more sharing of content at a higher and deeper level.

A4: We've made some efforts, whether it was an earthquake or another disaster somewhere, we tried to share information. We shared pictures, we tried to share video, and we can build up the network. We are now connected online to Instagram. ... So if we can get people connected to say, "hey do you have information on this", or "do you have a picture of this", or "can you share your video" we can bring all this together. Then video originators can tap the knowledge or local expertise and try to bring more content together and share this so we can have much richer coverage.

With the Olympics coming, my newspaper is proposing to work together with all our partners to focus on Asians. We are working with our partners to identify the top Chinese athletes, the top Korean athletes, the top Thai athletes and gold medal contenders. We want to do interviews and videos with them. When we pull it all together, we want to share it with all our partners.

A5: There will always be issues that call for our attention, and differences in perspective. I think the most important thing we can do is to write about it, to explain what's going on and to help people understand the perspective one country has on an issue. I think the most important thing is to give the different sides of an argument.

John Nery, editor-in-chief of Inquirer.net, a member of the Inquirer Group of Companies in the Philippines

Joint efforts help spread the news in Asia

A1. I think it's been very successful. When we started, there were only eight members, and now we have 21 members from 19 countries. The idea that the best perspective on Asia will come from Asia has been a driving force behind the expansion and success of the ANN.

A2. All members will have to figure out their own online, digital, mobile and social media strategies. The landscape will vary from country to country. You might have a place like Singapore, a very highly developed island, in contrast to the Philippines, which is a middle-developing economy spread across 7,000 islands. We have a website, which we will be relaunching ... and we are also working together on certain projects. We will have different components from different countries, but they will be packaged and presented as coming from one group.

A3. Some of us have been online for a long time. In the case of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, we have been online since 1997. We see ourselves as quite successful - we have a very large footprint in the Philippines and also among Filipinos living abroad. But the advertising money that comes (from online) is less than 10 percent of that made through print. That's one challenge that is common to other news organizations - disruption in the business model.

A4. Every time the annual board meeting is held, we sit down with either the president or the prime minister of the host country, allowing senior editors from the ANN to interact with them. In this case, on Wednesday we are meeting with Premier Li Keqiang. In this sense, this is a project on which we can collaborate. We all work together, we ask questions and so on, but we have our different takes and write different stories based on the group interview.

A5. Our role is really to provide information to enable people to make better informed decisions. If we define democratic logic as the consent of the governed, the role of media is to turn consent into informed consent. So, that's really our role. We labor under the assumption that the information provided helps different parties to reach a better understanding of the situation. It's not so much defusing tensions, but disseminating the correct updated information and analysis.

Ravindra Kumar, editor, The Statesman, India

Joint efforts help spread the news in Asia

A1. The idea of the ANN when it was formed was to report Asia from an Asian perspective, and I think we have succeeded in setting up a platform of shared content and perspectives among the members.

A2. This has been a challenge that has been discussed at the ANN board meetings for some time. One of the reasons why we proposed discussing the challenge is that our print content has been used in digital space. And cooperation between digital and print should be strengthened. Obviously, the advantage the print media has is credibility. If we expand our presence on social media, we will be able to meet the challenges. We are not talking about two competing media platforms. The challenges for print media is how to attract audiences, which social media has tried to take away.

A3. We call Asia a continent, but it has so many sub-regions, so there are different sets of challenges for different regions. But one of the things we can do is to find ways to enable ANN members to help solve challenges in a specific region. The ANN can make an effective contribution in this regard. The challenge also varies from country to country, but when you have a close network, you can share the problem, share the challenges and try to find specific solutions for your country or region.

A4. There are obvious areas of cooperation - for example when the Olympic Games are held in Asia. ANN members can now cooperate on diverse topics - from the environment to food, from culture to entertainment. One area in which we have cooperated very well is earthquakes. So the ANN is a platform for many positive things we can contribute to.

A5. Let us say, I am from India and you are from China. The role the ANN can play is to put the other person's views across to readers. For instance, my newspaper in India can put across Chinese views to the readers and your newspaper can cover Indian views for Chinese readers. I think readers can examine both sets of views, and in terms of journalism they can get both sides of the story.

Endy M. Bayuni, editor-in-chief of the Jakarta Post

Joint efforts help spread the news in Asia

 

A1. It has been wonderful. My participation in the ANN has lasted a long time. I was the chief editor of the Jakarta Post between 2004 and 2010. Now I'm back, I am happy to see the development of ANN legal memberships, more activities and more collaboration between the media across Asia and between journalists as well.

A2. We are responding to the challenge. We could have moved faster for sure. There were questions about the role of the internet and new media, and about whether this is good for the media and journalists. I think everybody has accepted that this is going to be the medium of the future, and we have to embrace the internet. We also have to embrace the fact that social media is one of many players disseminating information to the public. So we cannot deny their presence, and we have to work with them. As a professional journalist, we have to continue to adhere to the principles of good journalism.

A3. Asia is rising and China is a superpower. This is changing the political equation globally and in Asia. I think Asian media can help explain what to the public what Asia's rise means for the world. I think China is taking the lead because it is the largest member of the ANN. China Daily has taken an active part in driving development of the ANN to do a lot of good things for people in Asia and the world.

A4. We are exchanging news and journalists doing internships. There is a lot of collaboration and potential. It is just a question of how fast we can collaborate, and this is determined by the ability of ANN members to drive this process.

A5. It is by practicing good journalism. Good journalism means that we have covered the whole story. We have to understand the situation. We in Asia have different cultures and we love peace, which is important for our people. By practicing good journalism, we can help to defuse political tensions and build peace and prosperity in the region.

Zaffar Abbas, editor of Pakistani newspaper Dawn

Joint efforts help spread the news in Asia

 

A1. Some of the countries and some of the newspapers have used reporting Asia by Asian newspapers in a big way, but not all of them. Some of the member newspapers believe that we know a lot about Asia, but the way the stories are written - say by a Pakistani newspaper - is mostly for a local audience. But if it is reproduced in China Daily, if it is reproduced in The Nation in Bangkok, people may not be able to relate to it in a major way. We need to write news stories in a different way, so that a wider audience in Asia can understand them.

A2. I can speak from my own experience of coming from the print media generation, and I did not take social media or new media very seriously. But a young crop of journalists have come in. They understand social media, they understand the need for social media, especially on the website dawn.com. In the coming years, there will be a much bigger challenge, and we need to be prepared for that.

A3. If you ask different people, they will have different answers. For me, one of the biggest challenges is how to present your case to the audience, whether it is about China, about Pakistan, India or elsewhere. If you ask somebody like me - I became an editor in the past few years and have been a reporter all my life - I think one of the biggest challenges is how we assess press freedom in each of our countries, and how we improve the quality of journalism. Good quality is needed - not just in terms of reporting, not just in terms of writing, but to tell the people what they need to know. If we increase the level of press freedom in Asia, this will probably be a big help.

A4. The last time there was an earthquake in Nepal, many ANN members got together, highlighted the issue and helped in the relief work. They told people across Asia of the aid Nepal required - so there are many areas in which collaboration can take place. If China's Belt and Road Initiative is given more publicity and more explanation in other Asian countries, it can tell them how important this project is and how it can bring economic prosperity to all of Asia.

A5. We are in the business of reporting politics, we are in the business of highlighting issues, whether there is a conflict between Pakistan and India, tension between Pakistan and Bangladesh, tension between Japan and China, or many of the countries, we report those issues. We try not to take sides in these matters. But we can present the point of view of both sides, and let the people decide. ... So we try to do that, but we avoid taking sides.

Suthichai Yoon, chief adviser to the Nation Multimedia Group

Joint efforts help spread the news in Asia

 

A1. In the past, without the ANN, we relied on Western news agencies only. We are not saying we don't use Western agencies any more - we do. But we can use ANN sources for the main story and then use the agencies' stories for backup, because we believe readers can get a different interpretation of the story rather than just seeing an agency story that is the same around the world. If there is a fire, accident or political event in one of the Asian countries, we can have first-hand material from the best reporters among our members.

A2. When new media emerged 10 years ago, we started to discuss it and how to work together online so that all websites of ANN members could access stories provided by the other members. We also trained our reporters and editors to exchange experiences on social media. ANN members have been visiting each other to learn about their progress and possible answers to new technology and new social media developments.

A3. Other challenges will arise from the new technology. Content will become more instant. More people will use smartphones rather than read newspapers, or go to websites. The challenge is how to work together to cope with the changing behavior of news consumers. Instead of being alone, we will try to find a way together to survive the new-media tsunami.

A4. We do it all the time. When there are big news events, alerts are issued among members. The members will either send their reporters to the scene, or we can expect a member country to report and provide content. For example, during events such as the Asian Games in any of our member countries, we usually cooperate and work together. We send our reporters and cooperate with other ANN members to cover all angles in depth.

A5. In the past, without the ANN you received most views from the Western world. With the ANN, we can exchange news, analysis and background stories among members, giving us a clear perspective from each member country. For example, one of the current big issues is tension over the South China Sea issue. We get China Daily's version of the story and interviews with authorities from China. We also get the story from Vietnam and the Philippines, who have perspectives on the same issue. Thailand is not a party to this issue, but can also have its own perspective. So if you access the ANN website, we will provide all the angles and comprehensive stories on this topic. With an open and frank exchange of views, and analysis from all aspects, we get a better understanding.

Joint efforts help spread the news in Asia

(China Daily 05/31/2016 page3)

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