On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Up close and visional

So, for the first time in Malaysian journalism, you will have a print newspaper that provides you with both sound and visual. If you have done that, we would have taken a big step together in this exciting journey.

Go to any of the pages in the newspaper from today. If you see an article or advertisement with the iSnap logo, it would have a playable video or audio clip or additional content such as a photo gallery, maps, product catalogues or contest entry forms.

For instance, if you read an “iSnapped” article about football in the sports pages, you can watch a video clip of the goal being scored. For a review of a movie, the iSnap technology allows us to show a video trailer of the movie on your phone or tablet.

I am always asked about the fate of the newspaper. If we recall, there were those who predicted that video would kill the cinemas, but cinemas have re-invented themselves and have staged a strong comeback, proving their critics wrong.

There is also the tendency to divide the media into mainstream and alternative media but really, the line has blurred.

In Malaysia, the top 20 news websites on the Internet are by the traditional news companies. This is because people want to read news of all kinds, not just politics. In fact, media practitioners have long realised that the top 10 news items read are often not political news.

Media organisations are just like any other business concerns with wages and expenses to pay. They need to make money.

Most have found it hard to monetise the model of just providing news over the Internet. People expect content to be free over the Internet, that’s the culture.

Media organisations have tried the subscription model only to find out that Malaysians share passwords. In the case of games applications, they try to break the codes. There are plenty of such experts at Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur.

In the media industry, print is still king in Malaysia, taking a huge chunk of the advertising revenue.

The Star Online is the country’s number one news portal with 47 million pageviews a month. However, it is the newspaper, The Star/Sunday Star, that is the flagship with 1.3 million readership.

We went online 19 years ago with our Star Online and today, we are taking another lead with this innovative approach.

Then there are our four radio stations – in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Chinese – Redfm 104.9, Suria FM, 99.8FM and Capital Radio 88.9FM, which is targeted at women. In short, we are a content provider delivering news and information via print, Internet and radio.

Thanks to the emergence of smartphones and tablet computers, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, for example, the entire newspaper is now available on the go online for those who want to read it in its original format and they can switch to the Internet edition for updates at the same time.

And, more important, the Audit Bureau of Circulation has allowed the sale of the digital replica of a newspaper to be accepted as the same as the sale of the printed version.

For advertisers, this means having their presence on both the print and digital versions at the same time. It also means the young and old can read the paper at the same time.

Furthermore, via the e-paper, readers in Sabah and the more remote parts of Sarawak can now read the newspaper’s different editions no later than seven every morning.

So Malaysia, our new journey begins today. Thanks for making history together.