One day after the readership figures were out, SPH went into a panic mode with CEO Alan Chan and Editor in Chief Patrick Daniel warning of the publishing storm ahead.
Two major moves were announced:
- One reporter from one newspaper will cover one event, write it up and send it to a pool. Other newspapers will pick the report from the pool and re-shape it according to each newspaper’s needs.
- The newsrooms will be transformed to make print-and-digital reporting seamless.
The proposed changes come in the wake of a double whammy of a drop in circulation and advertising revenue in the last year.
With revenues under squeeze, the publishing house will have to cut cost and these proposed changes will mean cut in money spent on manpower. Expect attrition to come thick and fast.
One of the first victims is expected to be My Paper, which is on to a last-ditch effort to survive. Rahul Pathak, who used to be associate editor of Business Times, has been moved to see how the paper’s fortunes can be revived. The hope is that his experience in Today can be useful.
A lot of attention is being put on The New Paper. Its circulation is declining, advertising has never been great. It is a two-trick pony which bet on sensational news and soccer reporting. With The Straits Times getting into the first space and the Internet providing news reports, commentaries and video clips of soccer matches, TNP seems to have no other tricks in the bag.
The real elephant in the room is how political news is reported. As long as that doesn’t change dramatically, the eyeballs will just continue to move away from SPH newspapers.. And empirical evidence shows that once they go away, they never return.
So the real question is this: who has the will and the courage to tackle this elephant?