SPH Media Trust, a company limited by guarantee (CLG) that will take over the media business of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) in December, offers a new future for the media outlets that currently belong to SPH. That future consists essentially in benefiting from a change in the business model in order to serve news consumers better. Since a CLG is a profit-making commercial venture with profits reinvested in the business, the new model will free media operations from being constrained by the nature of a publicly listed company, which is subject to expectations from shareholders of profitability and regular dividends. The CLG alternative will, instead, allow SPH Media Trust to seek funding from public and private sources with a shared interest in supporting quality journalism - an option not open to a listed company - so that its journalists can focus on their professional mission.
The goal of providing trusted quality journalism about developments in Singapore, the region and beyond will not change with the formation of the trust. It will, if anything, be strengthened. This will be carried out through the accelerated transformation of newsrooms, which will be strengthened with the recruitment of more talent, and the provision of resources, especially in digital media creation. A recent period of cost-cutting that stretched resources, including in the newsrooms, is being left behind with systematic rebuilding, and a particular focus to reach out and grow digitally and in the online sphere, while ensuring the viability of print products.
Such moves represent a key step in keeping up with changing customer demands, tastes and expectations. This will ensure that subscribers and readers will increasingly be able to access news and developments as these happen, when they want it, where they want it, and on platforms of their choice, whether on their mobile phones, tablets or computers, as well as the printed version. This has been enabled by digitalisation and the wide range of technological tools and devices it has spawned, all of which has resulted in a sea change in how news and information are delivered and consumed.
Timeliness is essential, but so too is the quality of content. In an online and social environment awash with rumour and disinformation, hostile actors and fake news, what counts is credibility and trust. The new media entity intends to uphold that faithfully, in the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans, without fear, favour or interference from agenda-seeking influencers here or globally. Challenging as the road ahead will be, SPH Media Trust and its stable of outlets share a common purpose and determination to deliver timely, accurate and trusted content in much the same way this newspaper has been striving to do for 176 years.