A sunset industry struggling to cope with reality – Part 1

THE media industry has seen a steady fall in revenue with advertisers shying away from both printed and online newspapers, whether they are traditional or newly minted ones.

This is resulting in many losing their jobs and this is not just impacting only the print media.


Picture credit: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1844330 Is there still hope for the print media industry?


The online media is struggling to find the right revenue model, leading to a long list of failed ventures in Malaysia while others are surviving on startup money or from some political backing.

One thing is certain though. As long as the media industry (the news media industry in particular) does not strike the right chord with their business model, there will be continued instability from this massive haemorrhage.

This issue is not unique to Malaysia. Singapore and Indonesia are also hit by the same phenomenon. The question that is being asked by industry players is where did the advertising expenditure (Adex) go?

Well, for one thing, Adex players do not like the old format of journalism in countries like Malaysia and Singapore. They want a more transparent media.

The Singaporean media is also feeling the pinch with editorial teams asking whether they will remain relevant in the wake of the rapid progress made by mobile internet services in the region.

In most cases, whether it is Malaysia or Singapore, Indonesia and the rest of Asean, former newspaper buyers are now accessing news at a faster rate on their mobile devices.

The new media — online media agencies not associated with traditional newspapers — have seen a sharp rise in readership.

But why has the Adex been running away from both the print media’s online portals and the new media’s sites?.

The death of the print media was foretold many years ago but the decline has been slower in Southeast Asia, mainly due to the slow internet speeds, but this has drastically changed in the last few years.

And with the coming of 5G networks soon, the Malaysian internet scene will see a shift that could hurt the print media, even more, sending it down a faster slope to its doom.

This will impact the workforce, the media players and will cause a massive shift in loyalty from the readers and consumers.

The new media players, though more transparent, will win the readership battle but they will not be the ones attracting the Adex, which is going into a different channel altogether as they streamline towards Google Adsense and Google Adwords, and the many other players in this category.

However, I think it is more about a lack of transparent policies and a total lack of understanding of what is really happening to the print-traditional newspapers, with the arrival of the fast internet, that is the real cause for this chaotic situation.

The solution to saving the traditional media that wants to be saved, and that wants to survive in this highly disruptive environment, will be a complete liberalisation of the content of the newspaper industry.

This will be good for business as it helps the newspapers regain their lost fame and it will also shift the Adex game back towards the traditional media.

Part two will appear next week.

Kazi is the business editor of Malay Mail. kazi@mmail.com.my