Media outlets commit to providing credible news

Singapore Press Holdings chief executive Ng Yat Chung says the company continues to invest in new digital capabilities to secure the future of the media business.
Singapore Press Holdings chief executive Ng Yat Chung says the company continues to invest in new digital capabilities to secure the future of the media business.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

As space for civic discourse has become highly fragmented with misinformation and malicious content flooding social media platforms, it is important to have trusted news sources to provide quality and reliable reporting, said Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) chief executive Ng Yat Chung.

SPH needs to find a sustainable path forward so that its newspaper titles can continue to provide a space to inform readers, debate issues and forge consensus, he added.

"It is our contribution to help Singapore and Singaporeans succeed and to make sense in this increasingly complex world," said Mr Ng. He was one of two keynote speakers who kicked off discussions at the opening of Publish Asia yesterday at Novotel Singapore On Stevens hotel.

The event is an annual meeting for media professionals around the region and is organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

Mr Ng added that SPH is continuing to invest in new digital capabilities to secure the future of the media business, despite shrinking margins in media, as there is future growth on the digital front.

To do so, it has tapped technology and used a data-driven approach to understand its audience better.

The company has also looked at new ways of selling advertising.

But SPH faces considerable challenges, a pertinent one being transforming the company culture to one geared towards a digital world, he added.

Transformation is a work in progress, he said, likening the process to "getting an elephant to dance". "We are not out of the woods, but we are seeing some green shoots," he said.

Fellow keynote speaker Hu Shuli, founder of Chinese media company Caixin Media, also noted that media transformation is not easy.

While Caixin Media is a newer organisation that was founded in 2009, it, too, has had to be agile in its platforms and steadfast in its mission to provide high-quality news, she said.

The core value of professional media outlets is original content and a professional news production process that is conducted by a dedicated news organisation, Ms Hu said.

"While we are searching for new business models, we shouldn't give up our core value. Not just because that's why we are in this business, it's our mission and our calling, but also because that is our key competitive advantage," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2019, with the headline 'Media outlets commit to providing credible news'. Print Edition | Subscribe