The Now/ledge

A Guide to the 'Now' Revolution in News / by Alan Soon

SCMP cuts 30 editorial jobs

South China Morning Post, the English-language daily from Hong Kong, has reportedly cut 30 editorial jobs, apparently as part of a plan to restructure the company.

According to the AFP, which cited an internal memo circulated among staff by the Post’s Editor-in-Chief Reginald Chua, the company wants to remove the reporting teams from the actual production of the paper.

This would be the first big move by Chua, who was appointed to the post in July. He was formerly Deputy Managing Editor at the Wall Street Journal in New York, where he oversaw the Journal’s “computer-assisted reporting capabilities.”

It sounds as though Chua is re-allocating the company’s reporting resources to further support a digital function, which would make sense. So many newspapers are still hamstrung by their “core” product, refusing a great opportunity to lead the audience and dialogue through their online properties. Yes, I get it, advertisers are still paying for newspaper placements and online is merely a “bonus” in the package. But all that is quickly changing — digital is leading the newsflow. And remember, dailies aren’t in the newspaper business; they’re in the news business.

Filed under: Jobs, Newspapers,

Plug: Yahoo! Southeast Asia seeks finance producer

Ok, here’s one more job opening at Yahoo! Southeast Asia. I wanted to get this out the door before we head out for our holidays.

We’re looking for a producer to edit and curate compelling stories for our Singapore version of Yahoo! Finance.

The job is incredibly challenging: Identifying and delivering accurate, reliable and timely information to help our users make the best decisions in their financial investments.

This isn’t an entry-level position; you must have proven experience in producing and editing financial news stories. You may also have to write or commission blogs on finance and investments.

Technical experience isn’t necessary, but you’ll need to be comfortable working with a number of internet publishing tools. The position is based in Singapore and reports to the Managing Editor of Southeast Asia.

This is what we’re looking for in an ideal candidate:

  • A financial journalist with at least five years of writing, editing or production experience at news organizations such as Dow Jones, Reuters, Bloomberg or CNBC
  • Knowledge of the publicly listed companies in Singapore and commonly watched blue chip stocks
  • Reliable contacts in the financial services industry would be helpful
  • An understanding of social media and how to use it to distribute stories and engage a wider audience
  • Able to pitch great ideas for blog posts and articles relevant to the investment community in Singapore
  • Bachelor’s degree, preferably in journalism or communication

    If your experience fits what we’re after, please send your CV to:

    Alan Soon
    Managing Editor
    Yahoo! Southeast Asia
    Email: alansoon@yahoo-inc.com

    Filed under: Jobs,

  • Plug: Yahoo! Southeast Asia seeks Singapore producer

    Here’s the another job I’m looking to fill at Yahoo!.

    We’re looking for a producer to curate and deliver the best stories on our Singapore front page. This is a high-profile role in guiding and engaging our audience through the most visible section of our Singapore property.

    This is a great job for journalists, but ultimately our best candidate must have strong writing skills and a wide understanding of what makes news in the Singapore context. That means you’ll need a broad knowledge of subjects as diverse as politics, business, entertainment and sports. If you know how to write in a compelling style that delivers the clicks, we’d love to hear from you.

    Technical experience isn’t necessary, but you’ll need to be comfortable working with a number of internet publishing tools. The position is based in Singapore and reports to the Singapore country editor.

    Here’s what we’re looking for in a candidate:

  • Fluent in English
  • Able to write in a strong, unique and engaging conversational voice
  • Must have at least 3 years of relevant or related experience in online and/or traditional media
  • Excellent local knowledge and a nose for news
  • A wide variety of subject interests, from politics to health to the local entertainment scene in Singapore
  • Attention to detail
  • Able to work with diverse teams of people from different cultures
  • An understanding of how online communities work
  • A strong presence in social media networks
  • An appreciation of analytics and numbers
  • Bachelor’s degree, preferably in journalism or communications

    If you’re interested, send your CV to:

    Alan Soon
    Managing Editor
    Yahoo! Southeast Asia
    Email: alansoon@yahoo-inc.com

    Filed under: Jobs,

  • The ‘now’ revolution in 2010: My predictions

    2009 was the year of the microblog (Twitter, Tumblr, Meme). What does 2010 have in store? Here are my predictions for “now” revolution in the Southeast Asian market for the coming year.

    1. Professional content: Expect to see a push to cultivate and support a generation of professional bloggers in emerging markets such as Southeast Asia as the market for paid content connects with a rising class of professional writers. Keep an eye on Indonesia and the Philippines — their strong traditions in journalism will form the pillar for this.

    2. Corporate social media: Companies will stumble in trying to find the right mix of resources — PR, editors, product teams — to direct engagement with their customers. The realization will hit home: It’s expensive to build and engage a community. Many will fail with half-baked social media strategies.

    3. Innovation: New technologies will pave the way for the creation of independent news startups in the region, following in the footsteps of The Huffington Post and Gawker. Cheap, efficient technologies in content management will help companies get up faster. Massive opportunities here for systems integrators to deliver fast, scaleable backend systems to keep up with the traffic. A key question remains: Will advertisers be ready?

    4. Open collaboration: It isn’t over yet. Facebook Connect will help new startups leapfrog the difficulties in building a user base. An “instant” community is coming together, faster.

    5. “Mobile-lizing” content: The next ten million internet users will come online for the first time on their mobile phones. Handsets will get cheaper and apps will get more sophisticated. No brainer. The real challenge here is for publishers to start building a compelling experience on mobile phones from the ground up — and not simply dump web content on phones. Does anyone have a good idea of how consumers want to see content displayed on their phones? Not yet.

    Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing, Social Media, Tools,

    Plug: Yahoo! Southeast Asia seeks Country Editor for Vietnam

    This is by far the toughest position for me to fill as Managing Editor of Yahoo! Southeast Asia.

    After months of looking and countless interviews, I’m still finding it tough to check off all the boxes for this senior role. So I’m plugging this on my own blog; if you (or anyone you know) have the right skills for this fantastic role as Vietnam Country Editor, please drop me an email.

    The job description:

    —–

    Yahoo! Southeast Asia is looking for a driven and passionate leader for the role of Country Editor for Vietnam. This role requires strong leadership and editorial skills to help build Yahoo’s presence in Vietnam. The successful candidate will be based in Ho Chi Minh City and will report to the Managing Editor for Southeast Asia.

    RESPONSIBILITIES

    – Oversee our editorial strategy for the Vietnamese market, ensuring that we deliver fast, accurate and relevant local-language stories for a growing audience
    – Lead, nurture and manage a team of producers in Ho Chi Minh City
    – Work with product managers to improve on the layout of the Front and News pages
    – Engage and grow our relationship with local content partners
    – Engage and work with freelancers and stringers

    MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS & EXPERIENCE

    – Fluent in Vietnamese with good command of English
    – Must have at least five (5) years of relevant or related experience in online and/or traditional media;
    – Proven leadership and mentoring skills;
    – Experience working in a real-time environment;
    – Demonstrated ability to work in a new technology environment;
    – Bachelor’s degree, preferably in journalism or media.

    COMPETENCIES

    – Must be a self-starter;
    – Excellent local knowledge and a nose for news;
    – Understanding how audiences interact with online communities;
    – Keen interest in global and regional current affairs and pop culture from a local perspective;
    – Able to interact with diverse groups of technical and non-technical people;
    – Must be able to communicate effectively within and outside immediate group.

    APPLICATION

    To apply, please send your CV to:

    Alan Soon
    Managing Editor
    Yahoo! Southeast Asia
    Email: alansoon@yahoo-inc.com

    Filed under: Jobs, ,

    Twitter now profitable thanks to deals with search engines: report

    Twitter could well be getting $25 million by allowing Google and Microsoft’s Bing to index its Tweets.

    Bloomberg BusinessWeek said in a report the multiyear deals mean Twitter is now profitable. Two unnamed sources told the magazine the company will be able to deliver a “small profit” for 2009 thanks in part to the agreements.

    Twitter has raised about $155 million since it was created three years ago. According to entrepreneurs and investors, Twitter probably needs about $20-$30 million dollars to operate a year.

    Ultimately, the challenge for Twitter is to add some form of advertising, but without negatively affecting the flow of comments and its simplicity. And that’s something you don’t want to mess with.

    Filed under: Social Media, Tools,

    Iran elections top Twitter’s news trends of 2009

    The Iranian election was not only the most closely followed news event on Twitter this year. It was also the first social news event ever.

    In Twitter’s final tally for the year, the terms #iranelection, Iran and Tehran were all in the top ten list of news events. Gaza was also right up there in third spot.

    The stats are further testimony to the power of social news to deliver updates from closed states, despite the best efforts of local governments to censor them. A ban on coverage? Not in the age of Twitter. 2010 will be even more exciting.

    Filed under: Social Media, Tools

    Second telco in Indonesia adds Twitter’s Text Messaging service

    Twitter fans in Indonesia have more to be excited about.

    3 Indonesia is the latest mobile operator to offer Twitter’s Text Messaging service (AXIS was the first). There are no additional fees for this.

    Users can also turn on text notifications for people they follow, as well as direct messages. There’s one added benefit: 3 is the first Indonesian carrier to support sending photos to Twitter via MMS through TwitPic.

    Subscribers to 3 Indonesia can send Tweets with the word “START” to 89887. Let me know what you think of the service.

    Filed under: Tools, ,

    HuffPo’s gamble with paid comments may backfire

    The Huffington Post is treading into dangerous waters.

    The company, as part of a plan to double revenue next year, is allowing marketers the ability to inject their own paid comments among those from users. It will also place paid Tweets in live Twitter feeds.

    This is interesting at two levels.

    First, this is an important acknowledgement that the comments section of article pages is a prime spot where impressions are served — despite being beneath “the fold.” (Thought: Perhaps it’s time to serve up some comments to the top right corner of article pages.)

    Second, HuffPo is taking a big risk by playing Twitter as a one-way conversation. Advertisers will be put in a position where they will have to come up with brilliant ways to add value to the dialogue in the Twitter stream (those Web 1.0 days are long gone). Or it could backfire.

    Ultimately, smart advertisers will be asking if they want to be associated and intertwined with a deluge of comments — good and bad — and how they will adjust their message to follow. The key will be for marketers to avoid unnecessary interruptions in comment streams to hawk their products, but to be genuinely interested in the ongoing conversations. Only then can you add value.

    Filed under: Publishing, Social Media, ,

    Odd ending: Friendster sold to Malaysia’s MOL

    Friendster’s long and colorful history just got a little more interesting.

    The company, one of the grand-daddys of the social media revolution, has been bought by Malaysia’s MOL Global, a unit of online payment provider MOL AccessPortal. There was no mention of price, but a Reuters report previously put the number at more than $100 million.

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Friendster was eventually bought by an Asian company since the region represents 90 percent of the firm’s 115-million member user base.

    The question is: what in the world does MOL plan to do with Friendster? The press release accompanying the announcement had a hint:

    “The new combined entity will now build upon that initial set of products to deliver a content distribution network and e-commerce platform, enabling a wide array of content to be distributed to Friendster’s community and monetize via micro-transactions using MOL’s payment platform. MOL will use the leverage of its physical distribution networks to localize and extend the online reach of social networking in Southeast Asia to the physical world through Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s substantial assets across Malaysia and the region, including retail franchises in Malaysia and across Southeast Asia such as Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Borders, Krispy Kreme, Wendy’s and Papa John’s Pizza, just to name a few.”

    I’m cynical, but doesn’t that sound like a plan to distribute pre-paid micropayment cards off the counter?

    If that’s the primary plan, well, good luck. MOL’s reach needs to go deeper and further than just Malaysia — and that won’t come fast enough to save Friendster from devastation brought on by Facebook in key markets like Indonesia.

    Filed under: Social Media, , , ,

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