KUALA LUMPUR: Utusan Malaysia should have made adjustments when Pakatan Harapan won the last general election, said its former group chief editor, Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar.
“They should’ve made changes like others did. At the end of the day, it is not about which camp you are from, it is about accepting change.
“Utusan has been blamed for the loss of Barisan Nasional. They were the unapologetic cheerleaders. It’s a fact that the paper was owned by Umno.
“However, you have to give allowances and do what is right. Newspapers are a business and they were punished,” he told the New Straits Times Press.
Johan, who was former Media Prima Bhd chairman, said while not all newspapers were affected in the same way, it was imperative to gain the confidence and trust of the people.
“Unfortunately, Utusan has had no real leadership. Previously, the Utusan brand was associated with powerful and charismatic leaders, but when you lose that, you lose everything.
“Today, although the paper may not be able to be saved, the brand can still be saved.
“After saving the brand, they must ensure that the 700 employees are well taken care of. We are talking about the livelihood of 700 souls. Their wellbeing must take priority.”
Former New Straits Times group editor Tan Sri Mohd Munir Abdul Majid said he believed that a brand must have strong content and not only live on past history.
“There must be a clear and vigorous plan in a difficult media market. The name alone will not ensure survival, let alone success.
“Print media is under the cosh everywhere. Newspapers that are just about surviving have to show quality of content and depth of analysis,” he said.
In response to whether consolidation was the way forward for print media, Munir, who is chairman of Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd, said more needed to be done to ensure its survival.
“The (print) media has to go online, with an evidence of high readership to bring in advertisers. Radio and video must also be piled in. Beyond that, there has to be a close communication with the market and media users.
“Also, data needs to be collected, analysed and constantly updated to know what readers want, to help them navigate the huge amount of information out there as how it has been successfully done by Financial Times online.”
He said quality journalism was driven by quality journalists, adding that in today’s technological age, everybody went for value-added content.
In his latest Facebook posting, veteran journalist and former NST group editor-in-chief Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said a new owner with deep pockets could not guarantee the survival of Media Prima and Utusan Melayu Bhd.
“Hope lies in professionalism and high-quality journalism, as well as the ability to restore the trust of the audience.
“Both media groups were badly damaged during (former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s) era on the advice from people like (Najib’s former aide) Habibul Rahman (Kadir Shah) and an outsider, (Najib’s former media adviser) Paul Stadlen.
“The freedom given by the new government means nothing if editors and reporters remain in the kleptocrats’ mould.”