SINGAPORE - The leading media in Asia have agreed to collaborate to promote World News Day, in a bid to raise awareness of the importance of professional newsrooms and quality journalism for proper governance and society in the region.
Fifteen editors from across Asia agreed on Tuesday (May 7) to produce content to mark the day, which falls on May 2.
It was started in 2018 by the Canadian Journalism Foundation to celebrate the work of journalists and raise awareness of the value of fair, independent journalism.
The plan to lend their support was one of the initiatives proposed by the media honchos who gathered in Singapore for the inaugural meeting of the World Editors Forum (WEF) Asia Chapter.
During the discussion at the revamped newsroom of The Straits Times, the editors also brainstormed on how to improve capacities across newsrooms in Asia.
They agreed to share best practices on newsroom transformation. These include sharing experiences and learning points from the upgrading of a traditional newsroom to one that operates across multimedia platforms in the new media business environment.
The editors agreed that this initiative was timely as newsrooms face many common challenges and need to collaborate to address pressing issues.
They also suggested partnering leading media schools around the region through an internship for students. The programme will promote journalism as a profession, and students will work on projects under the mentorship of editors and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra) consultants.
Besides discussing how to improve the media industry, the members of the Asia Chapter also elected The Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez as its founding chairman.
Mr Fernandez, who is also editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holding’s (SPH) English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, said: “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.
“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 the World Association of Newspapers 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.”
After the meeting, the editors toured the revamped newsroom of The Straits Times and had a meeting with SPH deputy chief executive officer Anthony Tan.
The WEF is an established network for print and digital editors of newspapers and news organisations around the world. It is part of the Wan-Ifra which represents more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.
Besides The Straits Times, the other members of the Asia Chapter include editorial leaders from The Bangkok Post, Viet Nam News, Indonesia’s Antara news agency and The Jakarta Post, Malaysia’s Bernama news agency, Star Media Group and Sin Chew Media Corporation, South Korean daily JoongAng Ilbo, Singapore’s Mediacorp, Cambodia’s Post Media Co and The Phnom Penh Post, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, as well as Bangladesh’s The Daily Star.
Mr Mahfuz Anam, who is editor and publisher of The Daily Star, stressed the importance of regaining the trust of readers in the age of social media and fake news.
“If we hang on to our ethical principles, which we have inherited over the years and then modernise it with the technology available, we are going to regain our strengths, serve our audience better and get democracy back.”