Media leaders from the region cutting a red ribbon on stage during the launch ceremony of the World Editors Forum Asia chapter. — Photo The Straits Times
SINGAPORE/LONDON — Editors from 15 news organisations around Asia have come together to set up a new Asia Chapter of the World Editors Forum, a grouping of editors under the auspices of World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA).
They met in the newsroom of The Straits Times on Tuesday to discuss the formation of the group, its goals and objectives, and some areas they might work together on.
Editors agreed that this initiative was timely as newsrooms face many common challenges and need to collaborate to address pressing issues related to:
- Credibility: safeguarding journalists and newsrooms' freedom to operate and maintain their credibility with readers, who are looking for trusted voices, especially in the wake of the proliferation of fake news;
- Capacity: maintaining and growing newsroom resources to deliver quality journalism, which is resource intensive and expensive;
- Capabilities: developing newsroom abilities to respond to changing communications technology in the face of relentless media disruption.
To meet these challenges, editors have proposed the following initiatives to kick off their collaborative efforts:
1. World News Day: Endorse and promote World News Day in our region to celebrate the work of journalists and promote awareness of the importance of professional newsrooms and quality journalism for proper governance and society. Editors agreed that their newsrooms will collaborate to produce content to do so;
2. Best practices on newsroom transformation: Sharing experiences and learnings from newsrooms and editors in the process of dealing with transforming to operate across multimedia platforms in the new media business environment;
3. WEF newsroom internship: Forging partnerships with leading media schools around the region to promote journalism as a profession, and work on projects under the mentorship of newsroom editors and WAN-IFRA consultants;
4. Widening access: Partnering with social and philanthropic foundations in the region to help make training and development programmes more widely accessible to newsrooms and journalists, especially younger ones, with a view to building up a network for collaboration into the future;
5. Working groups: establishing working groups to look further into issues of how to attract, retain and develop talent for our newsrooms, and also to tap emerging media technologies and prepare the newsroom for these.
WEF Asia chapter will meet at least twice a year, to review and further these efforts, with the next meeting planned for October, on the sidelines of WAN-IFRA's Digital Media Asia conference in Hongkong.
Members of the chapter have elected Warren Fernandez, Editor-in-Chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English, Malay, Tamil Media Group and Editor of The Straits Times, as the founding chairman of the WEF Asia chapter.
The other founding members of the WEF Asia Chapter are: the president director of Antara News Agency Mr Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, the editor of The Bangkok Post Mr Soonruth Bunyamanee, chief executive of Malaysia’s Bernama News Agency Ms Nurini Kassim, editor (future planning desk) of The Chosun Ilbo, Mr Ken Woosuk Choi, editor and publisher of The Daily Star Mr Mahfuz Anam, editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post Mr Nezar Patria, the managing editor of South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo Mr Park Seung Hee, the editor-in-chief of Mediacorp Mr Walter Fernandez, the publisher and chief executive officer of The Phnom Penh Post Mr Ly Tayseng, the editor-in-chief of Malaysia’s Sin Chew Media Corporation Mr Kuik Cheng Kang, the editor-in-chief of South China Morning Post Ms Tammy Tam, the Chief Content Officer of Star Media Group Esther Ng, the president and director of editorial affairs of Taiwan’s United Daily News Mr George Shuang and the editor-in-chief of Việt Nam News Ms Trịnh Thanh Thủy .
Said Mr Fernandez: “Newsrooms around the world are facing big challenges. These range from the need to transform to being multimedia operations, to maintaining the credibility and quality of our content, in the face of the welter of fake news out there. Quality content, however, takes a lot of resources, so we have to keep our newsrooms financially sound and sustainable, if we are to keep going."
He added: "Some newsrooms are further down the road and we can all learn from each other. We should also tap the wealth of experience and expertise that is available at WAN-IFRA to help us along.
"So there is a sense that we are all in this together and so we are minded to collaborate to tackle these common challenges. This is what has brought us all together to form the WEF Asia Chapter."
Said WAN-IFRA's Chief Operating Officer Mr Thomas Jacob: "At a time of 'fake news' and declining trust, when even reputable media are vilified and discredited by those in power, the need to grow one's credibility and loyal readership has never been greater.
"With 15 of the region's leading news publishers coming together to share best practices and learn from one another, this will strengthen their capabilities to produce news that serves society and makes a difference."