Asian media bosses call for closer cooperation in region

Asian media bosses believe their organisations need to find ways to cooperate more closely in the face of global headwinds as well as to succeed in the long-term goal of fostering a greater East Asian community.

This was the consensus reached yesterday at the ninth 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum organised by the People's Daily newspaper at Boao in Hainan province. Participants included editors of leading media organisations in South-east Asia, China, Japan and South Korea.

People's Daily deputy editor-in-chief Fang Jianshan said the Asean Plus Three cooperation mechanism had, in the last two decades, helped the 13 countries weather two rounds of financial crises, sending a signal to the world that its members "are not only close neighbours joined by geography but that we also enjoy long-lasting friendships and share the same destiny".

The Asean Plus Three mechanism refers to China, Japan and South Korea as well as all the 10 Asean member states. It was established in 1997 in response to the Asian financial crisis.

Many of the media bosses also said trends like the advent of fake news and growing unilateralism meant that their media outfits must play a bigger role.

"Previously, the West championed liberalism and multilateralism, but now it's our turn for us to protect (these ideas) for us to survive," said Mr Supalak Ganjanakhundee, managing editor of Thailand's The Nation newspaper.

There was broad agreement among the editors that more needed to be done to forge a common East Asia identity.

"The problem for leaders in Asia is how to make it more sexy for the media," said Mr Selamun Bosko, editor-in-chief of Indonesia's Metro TV.

Mr Fang said mainstream media organisations should push news along the themes of peace, development and mutually beneficial cooperation.

"Media organisations from our countries should provide a unified and harmonious voice to the outside world, shouldering our responsibility to be pragmatic participants of 10+3 cooperation," he said.

Manila Times executive editor Arnold Belleza said there was appetite and potential to expand the scope of storytelling about the building of an Asian community because of vastly improved information flows and increased travel.

For instance, Mr Belleza said that while he had aspired to study at a Manila university, young Filipinos like his son wanted to study overseas, such as at the National University of Singapore.

"We can concentrate on really what does building an East Asian community mean for the ordinary people; if we can communicate that message, I think we will be successful," he said.

Singapore Press Holdings chief executive Ng Yat Chung said that continuing to be seen as credible sources for information will be a key factor for the success of news organisations in their work, especially in the age of fake news.

This includes reporting that includes diverse perspectives, he said.

"It is only by maintaining a high standard of objective reporting that the media can play a constructive role to find common ground, build bridges and build consensus," he said.

"Only then can we minimise misunderstanding and misjudgment, strengthen consensus and the foundation for multilateral cooperation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2018, with the headline 'Asian media bosses call for closer cooperation in region'. Print Edition | Subscribe