Reproduced verbatim. View the original here
How big and strong is The Star?
The answer: Very.
Just look at the 17-storey Menara Star, its main printing plant in Bukit Jelutong and other subsidiary plants, bureaus in the various states and its guanxi (business networking).
Money maketh the MSM.
Newspapers take up the biggest slice of the adspend pie at 56 percent, i.e. raking in about RM3.1 billion revenue, according to a Feb 13 report by Nielson Media Research. The cost of a full page colour ad in a Star main page ranges between RM36,000 and RM38,500 depending on the day of the week – you do the math on adex (advertising expenditure) filling the paper’s coffers.
In its corporate profile, Star claims a readership of 1,122,000. This figure is based on Nielson’s July 2006-June 2007 Index. It also claims an audited circulation of 309,181 copies on weekdays and 322,741 on Sundays for the same period. Multiply the numbers with its cover prices of RM1.20 and RM1.50, with total days in a year and you get readers forking over roughly RM115.4m + RM21mil = RM136.4 million per annum.
The reason why Star gets our goat is because of its smug spinning.
Reasons why it so sickeningly spins are because the paper is owned by MCA, linked to the government and has BN vested interests at heart. It figures that the paper’s top management, both editorial and corporate, is handpicked by the owners.
Can MCA reinvent itself to shed its communalism? Not unless it drops the ‘Chinese’ in its name, upon which the party will cease to have its raison d’etre.
Can a rebranded The Star likewise change its spots? I don’t think so, not unless the Augean stables of its highest echelons are cleaned out first. These men (and women) are dyed in wool pro-establishment, and dare we say, know which side their bread is buttered. Its reporters and middle-rankers are not necessarily likewise. But if you want to climb up the career ladder and fast, it naturally pays to play the politics.
What happens in its newsrooms?
I dug up some past whistleblowing on The Star from Malaysiakini archives. Letter writers who claimed to be insiders spilled the beans in 2001 when MCA investment arm Huaren Holdings, which at that time held 66 million Star shares, wanted to take over Nanyang Press Holdings along with the several Chinese publications in its stable.
Please cut and paste the urls below to read these letters in full – I strongly recommend that you do. Excerpts:
· “No stories about the opposition can be published without clearance from the editor-in-chief, especially any statements by DAP and Lim Kit Siang. No picture of Lim Kit Siang or Karpal Singh is allowed on the paper.” (‘Ling lies about ‘non-interference’ http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/8467)
· “The fact that we are owned by the MCA is enough to give all MCA leaders, not just Dr Ling himself, the authority to dictate what stories should or should not be run, how stories should be angled, what pictures to use, and what pages stories should appear on.” (‘The MCA does interfere’, http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/8497)
· “… whatever decision made during the meetings is guided by what Ling wants. Ex-Star Journalist is right – the real editor-in-chief of The Star is Ling Liong Sik.” (‘All the news that MCA deems fit to print’, http://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/8498)
Is the scenario much different in Star today? Back then, some 90 columnists and contributors to Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Guangming decided to stop writing for the dailies in protest of the Nanyang takeover.
Kudos to those guys!
What about today’s MSM men?