A fight worth fighting

The Malaysian Reserve is taking the ‘shattergun’ approach to appeal to a wider reader base 

Pic By TMR

TODAY, we launched the newly formatted The Malaysian Reserve. The changes presented in the new edition have been in the works for more than eight months. Thousands of man hours have been invested in the planning, devising and strategising the types of content, design and business model.

We have taken the shattergun approach to ensure the newspaper will appeal to a wider reader base, address the economics of the industry and confront challenges that have tailed the media industry in the decade.

The newspaper is now presented in a tabloid size. It is targeted at a larger reader base — Klang Valley, Negri Sembilan and Melaka.

The content has also been expanded from the previous 16-page to more than double of 40 pages. Instead of the subscription-based model, we are putting the newspaper on news stands and subscriptions, to give greater accessibilities and visibilities. The price has also been reduced in order for us to be competitive and accessible to the reading public.

Content-wise, we will continue to focus on our forte — economics and business news. But we are expanding our coverage into other areas. Political decisions impact the CEOs of the largest firms to the ordinary man on the street.

Federal policies influence investments, revenue generations and how people spend and save. Local developments influence society, politics and economic prosperity of the nation and its 32 million population.

We will continue to highlight key issues like “Politicians and property developers links” and “Decoding the Mindef land swap deals”.

We have added light reading content in our Life & Arts” section. We are introducing “Sports” and “International” news sections to add value to the offering, elements which were absent previously.

We have created daily Op-Ed, commentaries and Letter to the Editor page to highlight our position and to provide the interactive platforms for our readers. All these considerations are made solely with the readers in mind.

But a perfect model for the media industry remains a mystery. In the last 12 months, more than 1,500 people from the local media and broadcasting industry have lost their jobs. The culling will continue as media companies seek to balance dwindling revenues, rising expenses and operational efficiency.

While many sectors are frailing to confront “disruptive technologies”, the media industry has over 20 years battled with the “connected world” built on PCs, servers and applications linked by wireless and wired lines.

Readers are shifting to digital devices. Contents are shared on social media platforms. Putting paywalls on news websites have been a choice between a rock and a hard place.

Advertisers have options — Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and other social platforms. News aggregators flourish by compiling, rewriting and broadcasting contents, taken from capital-intensive media organisations.

Search engines reaped billions in revenue by listing stories. Minimum effort but maximum return. Similarly, it was also the case for social media platforms.

My former head (who is now a CEO of a local bank) always reminded me then that there are opportunities during a crisis and to look at the glass half full and not half empty.

Despite the doom and gloom outlook by the many soothsayers and scribes, we believe there is a need for a fair, quality, balance and insightful news reporting, beyond than just “he said”…”she said”.

There is a saying that a lion at its end fights the fiercest. We will continue to compete and deliver the content which will matter to our readers.

Mohamad Azlan Jaafar is the editor-in-chief of The Malaysian Reserve.