KATHMANDU, JARING.id - Media independence can only emerge from financial independence. One of the efforts that can be done is to raise funds from the public. This is a new model of media funding if it is to maintain independence.
This conclusion emerged in the discussion "News Models and Startups" which was held in the series of the 2nd Asian Investigative Journalism Conference in Kathmandu, Friday (24/9).
Present as speakers in the discussion were Steven Gan from Malaysiakini (Malaysia), Yongjin Kin from Newstapa (South Korea), and Ross Settles from the Media Development Investment Fund (USA / Hong Kong).
According to Settles, globalization has brought about many changes in various fields, including the media. Changes in the media occur starting from the scope of the news presented, audience, to the environment. "The news that is presented is more complex, more global, has more data, and appears in various formats," he said.
While audience become more global, have more options, but also have less trust in the media and are easier to be distracted from by news or other media. Meanwhile, in the media environment, there have been many changes on the legal, technical, and funding side.
Malaysiakini and Newstapa are two examples of media that have dared to try new models to face the challenges of globalization.
"What distinguishes new media and old media is public engagement. We have to build our own reading community, ”said Gan.
Malaysiakini is a news portal that was founded in Malaysia in 1999. It is an alternative to print and media broadcast which are fully controlled through government regulations and become the mouthpiece of the interests of the owners of which the majority are cadres of political parties, Malaysiakini claiming to be independent media.
While Newstapa is a news portal that provides investigative reports in video format. Newstapa was founded by the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism which claims to be the first non-profit organization in Korea to focus on serving online investigative reports.
Good Malaysiakini nor Newstapa were both initiated by journalists who felt the need for independent news media to fight political pressure. Both provide wider space for reporting on social injustice and corruption in the business and government sectors using investigative journalism methods.
Malaysiakini and Newstapa are both trying to present news that is not available or not picked up by the mainstream media. The majority are investigative stories that highlight the corruption of public officials.
"In Malaysia, the media mainstream owned by a political party. They always have political interests, so they don't dare. So we did what the media dared not do mainstream, "Said Gan. What the mainstream media dare not do is expose the injustices that occur due to a bad government system and corruption in the government and business sector.
Newstapa did the same. Kin said that news about the corruption of public officials was what Newstapa's audience was most interested in. Last year, Newstapa collaborated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to work on an Offshore Leaks document-based investigative report. The result of this collaboration report is a series of stories that reveal the tax asylum case of South Korean officials, including the eldest son of former President Chun Doo-hwan.
The courage of Malaysiakini and Newstapa to raise news about corruption related to public officials emerged, partly because they have independent funding. Neither of them depends on one big investor, especially those from political parties or tycoons. Both claim to be doing independent funding.
"Independent media can only be born from independent finance," said Gan. Malaysiakini shares are owned by the current editor in chief with the CEO Malaysiakini Premesh Chandran. They have a majority stake of 60 percent. Meanwhile, 29 percent is owned by the Media Development Investment Fund, and the rest is owned by employees.
While Newstapa get funds entirely from public donations. They even decided not to accept advertisements of any kind in order to maintain independence. (Fransisca Ria Susanti)