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Premesh Chandran from malaysiakini.com – Fund independent media April 17, 2009

Posted by Raquel in symposium.
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PANEL: Diverse Business Models in Online Journalism – Are We Trying Hard Enough?

Premesh Chandran started his panel by discussing Malaysia and the website he oversees, malaysiakini.com. The mission of the media outlet is to provide independent news that’s accurate, credible and balanced; to be the first in news; and to provide plural and incisive views.

“You can be balanced or in danger of being in jail,” Chandran said.

Chandran showed a video of how the people have come to accept malasiakini.com, and included examples of the work they have presented on the site.

Malaysiakini.com has reported on demonstrations, destruction of temples, horrendous things going on in the country are now being reported on for the last 10 years they’ve existed. Before, the media was controlled, keeping the same party in power for 50 years.

They do 50 stories a day in four languages and receive 1.8 million unique visitors/month, and 250,000 unique readers per day. They charge $40 for reading the English version, and as a business they’ve been breaking even since 2004.

When they started, the challenges they faced was making people pay for content, which is an unpopular choice among people.But he fought the notion that content should be free. In 2002, 200,000 unique readers and had 1% conversion, in 2009, the have 250,000 unique readers with a 5% conversion. Still, subscription generates 60% of the income.

The big question he addressed is does the media industry equal journalism. “The question is that journalists need to find a new home. Journalists can be part of the media, but to what extent do they need to find new outlets?” he said.

He also said he wants to dominate in three platforms: TV, Mobile and Web.

Regarding the future of journalism, Chandran said journalism has to be funded by public funds. Having your own subscribers pay for your content keeps media honest

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