Winning In A Time Of Losing

Kannan Chandran and STORM magazine at Publish Asia

STORM picked up another award for its print version at WAN-IFRA’s Publish Asia awards held in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

The guest of honour, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, raised the spectre of fake news and other new world challenges facing his country, government, and more importantly the media industry. Underscoring this was the important role newspapers played in sending the right messages out.

As most politicians are wont to do, it’s about managing the optics and getting as much positive spin out of any given situation.

Beyond this, the awards ceremony lit a light in an otherwise darkening industry; showcasing regional publications that excelled in specific areas of the craft.

The winners hailed from different parts of Asia but all faced similar challenges to varying degrees.

The rise of technology has seen newspapers and magazines in print shifting to the online space.

Malaysia's Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak presenting awards at Publish Asia.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak onstage presenting awards at Publish Asia.

Ease Of Online Delivery

That’s an area beset with its own set of evolving problems. With low barriers to entry (What does it cost to set up a site and get a template going?) it’s rife with wannabes who have set up sites and voiced opinions and views with scant regard for facts. For some, their boldness has paid off as they attract those seeking sensational views and entertainment.

Added to that is the perceived sense of anonymity they enjoy as keyboard warriors.

Social media’s sudden rise in prominence has unsettled many areas of the supply chain. News  is coming through online almost as it’s unfolding and newspapers are no longer delivering the “news”. Their roles have had to change.

Changing attitudes will continue to sway the money side of the equation. It’s becoming more difficult to deliver an award-winning product and expect to be rewarded accordingly.

In the era of disruptions, it’s the young upstarts with the out-of-the-box thinking like Facebook and Google who are pulling the strings, claiming the reach and the figures by virtue of dominating the numbers game.

But how accurate is that?

Sentiment about Brexit and Donald Trump’s run up to the US Presidency didn’t work out as social media said it would.

Singapore’s election in 2015 surprised everyone, including the ruling People’s Action Party, when it romped home with nearly 70% of the votes, when social media kept projecting figures heading in the opposite direction.

Fading Print

Even as we lament the fading value of print as a medium of communication, it’s unlikely it will fade out entirely. While it’s the news and the views that matter, going through a mobile device or laptop is just the conduit of delivery. There’s still a need to craft it in a way that will appeal to the audience of the day, regardless of how short their attention spans may be.

While the effectiveness of their content may be questionable, their role in society is not.

They came in to disrupt. and they have. But that’s a global phenomenon made possible by technology.

It’s time to disrupt the disrupters. There will be collateral damage but  the fight for survival is a chess game and sacrifices and concessions will continue to be made.

And sometimes, it’s worth considering if the new ways make sense, too. STORM has moved the online platform, which offers its own benefits. STORM.SG is still in its early days, but these are interesting times and we will see what blows in on the horizon.



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