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Panpa Bulletin : November December 2006
16 | PANPA BULLETIN November--December 2006 Straits Times publisher Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) announced a year-on- year net profit rise of 81 pc in the third quarter ending in May. Overall operating revenues rose to Sing$265.6m, Sing$237.2m of which came from SPH's newspaper and magazine busi- ness -- up 0.6 pc year-on-year. Net profit for the May quarter was Sing$174.6 m, the company said in its announcement. With Singapore's economy officially projected to grow 5-7 pc during 2006, SPH CEO Alan Chan was optimistic about the conditions it would confer on SPH. "Barring unforeseen circumstances, Singapore's eco- nomic outlook for 2006 remains healthy," he told AFP. That word 'convergence' doesn't just apply to the marriage of print and electronic media. It's also closing the gap between professional and amateur journalism. Following the response of camera-armed citizens to the SE Asian tsu- nami in December 2004 and the London bombings in July 2005, Yahoo News has opened a YouTube-like citizen video-jour- nalist news service to gather and run news- worthy videos submitted by the public. The big technological breakthrough here is the ability to upload direct from phone to Yahoo, without the need to go in via a PC. That means people can send it direct from the location of the event, giving it the im- mediacy of all good news coverage. But if you think this kind of citizen journalism is cutting edge, consider this. Even five years ago, cameraphones were not around in the proliferation we see now. That's why footage of the 9/11 attacks is comparatively limited. But it may come as a surprise that online citizen journalism was already well established that far back in some parts of the world. The grandaddy of all such outlets is OhmyNews, the South Korean site founded in 2000. And its origins didn't lie in hard-nosed business genius. "Citizen participatory journalism is not about tactics --- it's about philoso- phy," founder Oh Yeonho was quoted as saying by pressgazette.co.uk in June. "Professionals should change their mind. If they change only their tactics, it will not work well. The philosophy should change. The readers can be equal to professional reporters in news production because in my definition, a reporter is not some exotic species, some special person. The ordinary person can be a reporter. They have his or her own news stories and they can deliver it," he says. OhmyNews is run by a core of profes- sional professional editorial staff. But their job largely entails managing incoming stories and footage from 42,000 citizen reporters. Pressgazette says it is now among S Korea's most powerful media outlets, wield- ing manifest influence on the 2002 presi- dential election. Incoming president Roh Moo-hyun gave his first interview as leader to OhmyNews. There's an English-language version, too -- OhmyNews International -- drawing material from 1,000 contributors around the world. All that and it turns a profit, thanks to the access offers advertisers to its multimil- lion-strong young reader base. It helps, no doubt, that contributor costs are spectacu- larly low: US$20 a story if they're lucky. Lumpenpaparazzi at the cutting edge of news delivery Yahoo News has opened a citizen video-journalist news service to gather and run cameraphone sourced news videos. And it works direct from source, with no need for a PC interface. China's drive to become global manu- facturer of choice for anything not nailed down has reached the door of the daily newspaper industry, with Canadian print-on-demand (POD) giant Newspaper- Direct signing a deal with Chinese print firm Beijing Founder. The latter's commercial arm, Easiprint, will assume POD manage- ment duties on up to 380 international pub- lications, with Newspaper-Direct managing content. With a firm government no-go in place on the printing of foreign newspapers and tight restrictions on their distribution to date, the deal is seen as a major concession to the forces of media liberalisation. Easiprint will digitally print the papers at its 200 printshops nationwide. While distribution will remain limited, at least what comes out will be available on the day of publication. Newspaper-Direct deal prises open China s doors to foreign newspaper Straits Times publisher SPH posts Q3 pro t hike of 81 pc WAN defends journalists in Danish secrets trial The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) told a Danish court in Novem- ber that to convict and imprison three journalists on trial for publishing intelligence secrets would be a major blow to press free- dom and undermine fundamental democratic principles. "We are very concerned about the grow- ing use and abuse of national security and secrecy legislation by governments and other authorities intent on preventing publication of matters of vital importance to the citizens of their countries," WAN CEO Timothy Balding told the City Court of Copenhagen, where he was called as a defence witness for Berlingske Tidende editor in chief, Niels Lunde, and reporters Jesper Larsen and Michael Bjerre Rasmussen. The three risk six months to two years prison if found guilty. Mr Balding told the court that convictions would tarnish Denmark's strong free press tradition and send signals to authoritarian re- gimes that it is acceptable to punish journalists for publishing information they would rather withhold, regardless of public interest. The three are charged over the 2004 disclo- sure of classified intelligence reports about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The intelligence officer who leaked the reports, who was jailed for four months, said at his trial he felt prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen had exaggerated the information to convince Denmark's Parliament to go to war in Iraq. Mr Balding argued to the court that the paper had published carefully checked facts with the legitimate aim of informing citizens of the basis on which Denmark went to war. He cited several similar cases in other democratic countries that had all either been thrown out, resulted in acquittals or overturned.