(From left) Professor Abdul Hamid Mohamed (moderate), Umno Youth vice-chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan, Prime Minister's Communication and Media Advisor, Datuk A Kadir Jasin, Deputy Defense Minister Liew Chin Tong and Advisor to the Minister of Economic Affairs, Datuk Khalid Jaafar during the on ‘Survival of Print Media ‘Why go soft when you can go hard’ forum at Intekma Resort and Convention Centre in Shah Alam. -NSTP/Roslin Mat Tahir.

SHAH ALAM: Content is the key to secure the future of the print media.

Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong said print media industry players should not harp on the dichotomy between online and print media as the divisions were not as important as the content.

“Journalism will never die, although the form will change. And, the money spent on media will change.

“We are in a different environment from the 1990s. Back then, print media was a buffet. The thicker the newspaper the more it kills its rival; no one can fight them.

“But, now, things have changed, the point is we still pay for content, good content is important — specialised media is key.”

Liew was one of four panelists at the forum “Survival of Print Media: Why go soft when you can go hard?” at Intekma Resort and Convention Centre.

It was organised by Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) Mass Communications Alumni and UiTM Rembau, Faculty of Communications and Media Studies today.

The other panelists were Datuk A. Kadir Jasin, who is the media and communications adviser to the prime minister, Datuk Khalid Jaafar, who is the adviser to the Economic Affairs minister, and Umno Youth vice-chief Shahril Sufian Hamdan.

The forum was moderated by marketing coach and consultant professor Abdul Hamid Mohamed.

Liew cheekily commented that determining whether “soft” or “hard”, was all in the user’s experience.

“Content is what the audience wants and needs, as content is king. I have a library of 400 over books, (but) also use (e-book reader) Kindle when I am traveling. I still consume content, just the form is different.

“Why do people pay for The Economist, when it is not cheap?

“Because there are things you can’t get elsewhere, such as context, background knowledge and analysis.

“We have to go back to basics, providing deeper content, context and analysis,” he said, adding that people were still willing to pay for news from genuine news media agencies.

“I think specially in the world of fake news, some are prepared to pay for genuine news, and therefore genuine news media agencies will survive and can make money out of it.

“The question is whether we have that type of organisation that reflects the demography, that reflects the thinking of the people,” he said.

Asked if a media organisation could survive without backing from political parties, he said it was possible.

“If you trace the history of newspaper organisations, it was established to create consciousness whether on an idea or a religion, to sell a product, provide a service or for government propaganda, or a combination of all.

“As long as the government of the day can commit to media freedom, there are mechanisms to ensure media is reporting genuine news, that sort of environment is important,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kadir said it puzzled him when journalists and editors took news content from social media.

“You may have five editors, but I see mainstream media quoting from social media.

“Social media is for you to socialise. Even when you pass on genuine news, it is for socialising.

“Print news is reliable and can counter fake news, because of the layers of editing.

“It is not as simple as a ‘makcik’ passing messages from the WhastApp group.”

He added that the quality of reporting had declined over the years, in terms of language style be it in English or Bahasa Melayu.

“Malaysians are not good at conversing well in both languages. We have to bring back the culture of reading.

“These days households don’t subscribe to newspapers; parents must start by giving kids food for the brain.

“Books are important, print media must survive; things that are archived are important.

“For me, there is no replacement for newspapers. I want to die leaving a successful and vibrant print media in Malaysia”, he concluded.

Shahril concurred, adding that content was paramount and that people would pay for good content.

“If editorial content is not the voice of the people, if it so transparently promotes (political) agenda, no one will read – (whether) print or online.”