Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Khalid had special sajak as farewell gift

The Utusan people certainly know how to appreciate their staff, especially those who have served the company for so long and so loyally. They threw a farewell party for outgoing Editor in Chief Khalid Mohd, who is on long leave before retirement.

They even did a special book showing his years as a dedicated journalist in the Utusan family. Khalid even had a sajak dedicated to him and this was published in last Sunday's Mingguan Malaysia. Khalid surely cant ask for more.

It's now Aziz Ishak's turn. The Utusan editorial team is far stronger than that of Berita Harian, according to people who know the story inside out. BH may show more commercialism in their approach to running the newspaper but Utusan have more editorial blood in their make up.

We will see how Aziz progresses in his work and where he's taking his paper to!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Khalid out, Aziz in

CONGRATULATIONS Aziz Ishak, the new top honcho of Utusan Malaysia's Editorial Department. Only 44, Aziz should have plenty of years ahead as the Editor in Chief. He was already the number 2 when Khalid Mohd was the numero uno.

As for Khalid, all the best to you! I hope you'll write a memoire or something. After all, Khalid has much experience and had seen history being made at close range over the years.

Aziz, friends in the media said, should do well. He's very much an Utusan man all the way. That's one thing good about Utusan - when they promote people, it's done by picking someone from the rank and file.

Except for Johan Jaafar, who came in to replace Zainudin Mydin when the latter was booted out. Johan was then with Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. And was never a reporter in his entire life.

Well, good luck Aziz! Sleep well! And you too Khalid!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Utusan insists on staying broadsheet

After Berita Harian/Berita Minggu ditched their broadsheet size, the only mainstream newspaper that is holding on to that tradition is the Utusan Malaysia/Mingguan Malaysia. From what I hear, the Utusan group is happy to continue with its present format.

There are advantages. The group already have its tabloid newspaper, Kosmo!, which has a claimed circulation of about 130,000. If the main paper goes tabloid, it will compete with Kosmo!, and that is not a good strategy, some friends say.

Berita Harian's tabloid version hasn't really excited many readers. It's basically cosmetic changes. The contents are the same, basically very much a pro-establishment (and pro-PM) paper. Nothing really exceptional.

The Utusan chaps said they are the only newspaper which can offer big across-the-gutter advertisements broadsheet size. This can come in handy on special occassions. They said they are happy with the present format and will make sure it stays that way.

The Utusan chaps believe that there has been no real increase in circulation for the NSTP newspapers which are all tabloids now. Quoting AC Nielsen, they said the circulation figures have been stagnant.

In fact, they said the new Malay Mail has also seen a drop in sales, hovering not much more than 20k copies. Ibrahim Nor has to find new ways to check the decline.

But no one can guarantee this. The Utusan Chief editor Khalid Mohd will leave soon, as do its chairman, Hashim Makaruddin. The new bosses have not been publicly named, and they may have other ideas. We just have to wait.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Give our TV boys room to do good job

Tomorrow's (Thursday July 17) newspapers should carry Anwar Ibrahim on page 1 again. The news of his arrest in Segambut was spread by those who got the first hand information through SMS. By lunchtime, the arrest was already talk of the town.

Radio and TV news carried bits and pieces of the arrest. Under the circumstances, radio and TV should give regular updates so that the people will not speculate as to what had happened. If this is properly done, rumours can be minimised, or even eliminated.

In other parts of the world, TV networks would show the drama as it unfolds. Some TV journalists would bring their crew to the ACA office where Anwar had gone to be quizzed. They would probably follow him to wherever he goes so as not to miss any development.

Our TV fellas are not doing this because they are either short-staffed, or told by their political masters not to give Anwar too much airtime. When the Anwr-Ahmad Shabery Cheek debate was shown live on Tuesday night, the streets were almost empty because most people were watching it on TV.

If the local TV boys were left to do a comprehensive job on covering a running story, I'm sure they can do a fairly decent job. But that is not how TV operates here...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Media blitz supporting Abdullah-Najib pact

After a short break, and scanning the newspapers since my last posting, I could see that a major media blitz is underway. In the last few days, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Tun Razak have been getting page 1 treatment for their political accord in the Umno hierarchy.

After Abdullah announced that he would pass the baton of leadership to Najib, the mainstream newspapers have been highlighting this development everyday. Immediately after Abdullah made the announcement, Najib took the cue and lent support to his boss' statement.

This led to columnists and bloggers analysing the development, from various perspectives. In fact, the Sunday papers were full of interviews with Abdullah and Najib. It's part of the game plan to win Umno members over to the transition plan.

The papers are now trying to get an exclusive interview with Muhyiddin Yassin, the man said to have reached a pact with Najib and going for the top two posts in the December. Keep a lookout in the next few days.

In the next few months, the media will continue to highlight political news since politics is very much the flavour of the moment. Unofficial discussions have taken place between editors and members of Umno's supreme council to prepare the Umno grassroot to accept the transition plan.

And, also on cue, the media have been highlighting various Umno state liaison committees who have been issuing statements supporting the transition plan. In October, when Umno divisions have thir AGMs, we will see if they truly accept the transition plan as announced.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Editors don't care? 4th floor orders?

Kecil tapi gah! That's the teaser advertisement posted by Berita Harian several days before the broadsheet goes tabloid this week. The ad simply means Small but Mighty! BH goes the NST way which went tabloid earlier.

The BH people believe that size can make a huge difference in circulation. The NST felt the same way too, but didn't quite got what they planned. NST's circulation still hovers around 130,000, maybe a bit more with all the sensational news these past few days.

By going tabloid, BH goes into direct competition with its Harian Metro, which had been eating into BH figures for some time already. BH people won't admit it though.

Readers want content, more than size. Maybe it's better for BH to just say that the rise in newsprint prices force it to downsize, and save cost. Accuracy and credible reporting can get any newspaper far.

But not the kind that's seen on page 2 of Friday's BH. The big colour picture shows PM Abdullah Badawi chairing a meeting of the Northern Corridor. Conveniently, the paper left out any mention of the Penang, Perak and Kedah CM and MBs in the caption!

I thought the picture shows how practical our leaders are - they can be opposite sides of the political divide, but can sit and discuss developments openly for the sake of the nation and people. Obviously, BH didn't see it this way.

Utusan Malaysia's page 2 carry almost the same picture, but made no mention of the Kedah MB in the caption.

Reporters lazy? Editors don't care? Or both?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Anwar gets Pg 1 treatment from MSM

In the last few days, mainstream newspapers have given Anwar Ibrahim the Page One (1) treatment, something which the de facto leader of Pakatan Rakyat have not had for a long time.

Given the tempo since news of a 23-year old man lodged a police report alleging he had been sodomised by Anwar, the former DPM looked set to hog the front page for quite a while.

Cabinet ministers is set to take inside pages, unless they say something newsy and can upstage Anwar with his publicity stunts.

It's the same with the local TV networks. Anwar's news also made it into International TV channels, bringing the kind of coverage they dream of and compounding Malaysia's problems with such adverse publicity.

The last time Malaysia receive similar attention was the Hindraf Rally and the People's Rally where thousands marched demanding a better administration from the Government before the March 8 general election.

Reruns of footage of the demonstrations and the police action taken to quell the demonstration reminded the world of what was happening in this country. It looks like we are getting more of the same in the coming months.

The local media is expected to receive some reminders or guidelines soon on how they should treat Anwar's publicity stunts. When this happens, the public will continue to quench their thirst for news from blogosphere.