Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Malay Mail: A Second Tour of Duty

The Edge and Singapore Business Times today have the story about white knights and the Malay Mail. My name was mentioned in the reports.

"Siew and Mohamad intend to recall Ahiruddin Atan (sic), a blogger who used to edit the newspaper when it was under the NSTP, as the daily's editor."

I can confirm that we have been talking, and that I am seriously considering going back ...
I left the Malay Mail on Valentine's Day in 2006. I had to leave. The Board of the New Straits Times Press had already made the decision to turn the Malay Mail into what the CEO then described as "a college paper". And they didn't think I'd like to be the Editor of such a paper. Of course, they were right on the last one.

Months earlier, the Malay Mail had to close its offices in Penang, Ipoh, Melaka and Johor Baru to allow the New Straits Times, which had just been shrunk to its current size from broadsheet, to grow. It was thought that the Malay Mail was in the way of NST's effort to catch up with The Star. Someone said the NST's circulation was poised to hit 180K a day in no time if the Malay Mail pulled out of the "regions".

In 2003, two years after became the Editor of the Malay Mail, it emerged as the fastest-growing English daily in Malaysia, doing particularly well in JB and Penang. We were doing what theSun does very well these days. People first, even back then. Mudrakers, exposes, probes. Good old-fashioned news. We were never that interested in politics (except when we got hold of pictures showing the MCA boss with a triad chief or when a certain politician got caught for multi-million ringgit casion debts). After we branched out from Kuala Lumpur, the average daily circulation exceeded 60k for the first time since the mid-1980s' peak (as reported by the Singapore Business Times, reproduced in White Knights here). Ads remained an issue, though. We failed to recover the Classifieds we lost to The Star's great siege of the 1990s. It was always "NST first" when it comes to ads, something which we'd learned to accept as the small brother in the NSTP family.

The college paper project was an experiment that went awry. After the Weekend Mail was suspended, here, there was talk that the NSTP was going to sell the paper to Ananda Krishnan or Tony Fernandes, or even closing it down. In March last year, Blue Inc.'s Ibrahim Nor, a former NSTP man, and Abdul Rahman Ahmad of Media Prima, one of the few who backed me openly against the shutting down of Malay Mail offices at the regions, bought the paper from the NSTP in an attempt to save it from closure.

After more than a year, Ibrahim's team did good to bring back the spirit of the "old" Malay Mail, the Paper That Cares. But sales continue to languish. The daily circulation is said to be around 20k. Why that is so, nobody can really answer. Perhaps the world has moved on. Perhaps the newspaper-reading public have lost faith in the paper ...

In any case, the newspaper business is never meant for the faint-hearted. Given today's environment, it has become tougher than ever. The economic slowdown, competition from the new media, stifling laws and regulations, and low esteem. Five years under the Abdullah Administration, the credibility of some of the major newspapers has reached bottom.

The Malay Mail, at 113, is the oldest Malaysian newspaper (the NST claims to be 164 years old but 1845 is actually the year The Straits Times was established in Singapore; the New Straits Times that was born in KL following the Malaysia-Singapore "split" is only 37 years old). It survived two World Wars, it survived the television, and was there at the start of our Nationhood. The Malay Mail has given the ordinary people a voice through a mass media, assumed the role of government watchdog, and helped draft the history of this country.

To me, it is more than just a newspaper. It's a Malaysian heritage.

105 comments:

Nilesh said...

WOW - never knew the history / struggle of Malay Mail. I remember my parents used to buy Malay Mail for the classifieds everyday - it was very comprehensive and we loved it.

You are right about newspapers in Malaysia now - it has lost its credibility.

I rather read The Malaysian Insider / The Nut Graph than the mainstream newspapers when I want to know the current state of affair of Malaysia.

Nevertheless, I still enjoy non-political articles written in the The Star / NSTP - they are, IMHO insightful enough - at least to me.

This is a great piece - it was really insightful on the struggles / history of Malay Mail.

Dato' Bendahara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donplaypuks® said...

Rocky

You are right. We must not let our heritage disappear or be undone by politicians and their stupid machinations.

There was a time when if the public had a complaint they would call MM Hotline. Now, we write to Citizen Nades and hope for the best.

So, I hope you will go back to MM and turn it around. Wish you every success.

ARMIN BANIAZ PAHAMIN said...

Rocky..
its true the news & stories in Malay Mail is such a bore...

in those days, Malay mail was the the english version of Harian metro today... informative with the latest news as well as a tabloid.

now, even i stop reading the MM. it needs rebranding and perhaps.. the name MALAY MAIL.. doesnt best suit the current Malaysian...?

Armin

Anonymous said...

Hi Bru,

Sentiments aside, are you sure you want to bother about The Malay Mail?
There are more than enough mainstream papers around and with reader attrition and migration to digital media, I can't see The Malay Mail making any headway...

But if they are paying you good tucker why not. Keep taking the money while they are coming but get reader to alighten when the train comes to a stop...Which may last you a few years...


Joe Black

Anonymous said...

Rocky,

for all we know, all Malaysia MSM are nothing but UMNO/BN mouthpiece !!

Rakyat are smarter now...don't think Rakyat will buy all those bullshit news from MSM.

but,I personally think that Malay Mail is a very good platform for Rocky to spin news for his master !!

Spin...Rocky...Spin.....

Dakis.

Anonymous said...

I bought a copy of MM 2 months ago. A waste of money. Will buy again if MM really starts to care again. Raise issues about corruption, crime, public transport, rubbish collection, civil service inefficiency, illegal immigrants, trafic jam, DBKL, useless politicians, local councils, etc....issues that directly affect us. And MM should whack hard. We want to see lazy, inefficiant, deadwood civil service members removed. We have been feeding them and their families for far too long. Can do aaaa?

Nacaleb.

Pendekar Perak said...

So the million dollar questino now is rocky! Are you going back to malay Mail?

Parpu Kari said...

Bro Rocky! Please save Malay Mail! After all, it is our Malaysian heritage bro! I believe you can bring back MALAY MAIL!

dua sen said...

The only way Malay Mail can resurrect is to be bipartisan in news reporting. Rakyats are turning to alternative media because of partisan spinning by MSM!

Anonymous said...

I read the Malay Mail everyday. If you, a government toady, go back, I will stop buying it.

Anonymous said...

Bro Rocky, with your influence in the blogging world, i think malay mail circulation will bounce it. tie it to your blog but dont be a stooge to anybody because today's readers with the borderless world are smarter than even the editor sometimes.

THINK BIG

Anonymous said...

Yes, thats the way to go Bru. You brought the MM to new peaks back then, after Fauzi Omar tried some stuff but that didnt work. Wasnt this taking place when Ahmad Talib was the Group Editor? He must have given you a free rein back then. I was in the marketing dept back then and I remember joining your road show to Johor, Malacca and Ipoh. Good luck Rocky!

PK

Sinis Malaya said...

Salam,

I still remember those 2003 period where I'd go for lunch + dose of Malay Mail... being a malay, i'd personally go for MM rather then the MCA-Star or NST.

but good luck anyway...

rizal hashim said...

Times have changed. From my perspective as someone who grew up reading the paper, it was the only source for the latest news until the NSTP management decided to bring forward the offstone time.

In the 80s, while NST readers got to read about Liverpool beating Bayern Munich or Stoke losing to Wolves on Fridays, MM readers were already updated by Thursday afternoons! We enjoyed this luxury until the late 90s.

MM will have to overcome certain challenges and you could well be the right man to help pull through the paper out of the quaqmire.

Deep in my heart I believe the paper or the online version will have a continued presence in our society...

All the best to you and MM

Dhahran Sea said...

Salam Bro. Rocky,
Its great that Dato' Ibrahim Nor & Co. are trying hard to save the Malay Mail. HOWEVER, keep in mind that some of established papers in the US and the world for that matter, have been closed (& closing) down in the past few years.... reason? People/consumers are OPTING for the FREE news that they can get from the Internet. Its ok to be sentimental about the Malay Mail; however, the NEW BUSINESS MODEL of a "newspaper" has to be taken into account - I'm sure its is as relevant here in Malaysia as in other parts of the world. The challenge is of course, how to keep the bread & butter income from ads. coming in when consumers are trending towards the "soft version" of news etc. vs hard copies of the newspapers? Challenging times ahead, I'm sure?

eddy said...

Good for you bro and good luck, I think you will need large doses of it in the coming months and couple of years.

Anonymous said...

Not surprise that your name is mentioned at the rate you grease and lick those people's balls.

Don't stoop so low lah, just to get something, people won't respect you. Time to earn an honest living bru.

budak-kom said...

kalau benar apa yang anda katakan, itu adalah satu berita gembira kepada mass commnunication brotherhood...satu tamparan kepada si pelampau dari regim yang lama.mungkin saya akan kembali membaca nstp n berita harian serta seangkatan dengannya termasuklah mula membaca malay mail kerana sekarang macam mengarut!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, brother. You will do an excellent job in reviving the glorious past of the MM, temporarily effaced by the "Bentong" Kali regime and his pariah sidekicks. I am sure you will bring back the bygone lustre of a once popular and respected evening tabloid that you so astutely helmed.

My sentiments expressed the last time, this issue cropped up remains. Keeping my fingers crossed that this is yet not another false alarm but since it is from the horse's mouth itself, that sliver of doubt has dissipated into thin air.

Again, congratulations, Bro. You will be a credit to the paper, mark my words!

Warrior 231

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, brother. You will do an excellent job in reviving the glorious past of the MM, temporarily effaced by the "Bentong" Kali regime and his pariah sidekicks. I am sure you will bring back the bygone lustre of a once popular and respected evening tabloid that you so astutely helmed.

My sentiments expressed the last time, this issue cropped up remains. Keeping my fingers crossed that this is yet not another false alarm but since it is from the horse's mouth itself, that sliver of doubt has dissipated into thin air.

Again, congratulations, Bro. You will be a credit to the paper, mark my words!

Warrior 231

owl said...

Salam

Currently I like The National (the web may have high traffic). I wish Malaysia has a paper as such esteem.

apanama said...

congratulations bro! Just Do It!!!

Anonymous said...

Readers want truth from MM, not political agenda.

BL

Vernon Kedit-Jolly said...

Boss

I'll buy and read The Malay Mail again ONLY if you're in charge. Back to the glory days.

Anonymous said...

Brudder
Somehow, I think you would do a better job at NSTP than MM! Good luck nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

good for the malay mail if they bring rocky back. hope no more bias!!

zamri

amir said...

WHAT?

REALLY?

YOUSEM PEOPLE GONNA DIE, ANI?

Kama said...

Bring it back to its past glory, Rocky. Malay Mail is worth saving.

Ex-MM

Anonymous said...

I think the Malay Mail is dying to have a new identity including a
name change to get a fresh lease of life. the old name has been so corrupted it is better to have it buried and done away with. give it a hip name and start anew. also burn some firecrackers after that to chase the unlucky genie away.

DOCTOR

Anonymous said...

Congrats Rocky

Please know that many do not like the BN propaganda media but we also dislike the anti-BN media.

Come back with the truth!What is good is good and what is bad is bad,irregardless of any party lines.

The majority of not fanatics to any side.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rocky......Re Anon 5.14pm =
"Not surprise that your name is mentioned at the rate you grease and lick those people's balls.

Don't stoop so low lah, just to get something, people won't respect you. Time to earn an honest living bru."

I have great respect for you when you started your blog, but when it started to change color, I feel so sad for you. Sorry sir, have a nice day!!

malay mail fan said...

bro,

i ma really happy and glad that you are going back to malay mail. in fact, deep down my heard i feel that malay mail is the right place for you and i belive you can do wonders to malay mail.

bro, once upon a time, long long time ago, i did my internship in mm for two weeks and then i also had a column in mm then.

i think mmm did badly because of kalimullah, that is a fact and everyone knows.

under the new malay mail, something is missing lah bro. maybe it has got to do with the people lah. i am not saying that you must change all of them in malay mail but you have to strengthen malay mail and bring back some of the senior people.

you need the likes of aishah ali to help you out at the top level. you also need muzli and shamsul yunos in the middle level. as for entertainment, bring back saleha or zainal alam kadir, and for sports, you have the choice between rizal or the more senior tony and surely not johnson. come on lah bro crap lah johnson is the editor and his son is a commentator plis lahhhhhhhh how stupid can that be. and najmuddin who has been around for less than 10 years is an editor ....

you need to make this changes in order for mm to survive

Pasquale said...

Well done Mo!You have my support!

Pasquale said...

Well done Mo!You have my support!

Anonymous said...

Rocky, re-branding and re-engineering should be the game plan. There are so many strengths against weaknesses, you have to find them. Remember, when you were at MM, you had the infrastructure of NSTP to expand, and you rightly did so with the MM expansion strategies around the Regional Plants, i.e Prai, Senai and Ajil, and with the Regional offices to support. Now you might not have that strengths, however there is a vacuum that MM can fill, especially in Klang Valley. However, if you fill MM with the same old farts, all waiting for others to think, instead of thinking outside the box, NO chance man. The challenges are different and serious, so get the right people from top to bottom. Dont get only friends, get quality.....all the best VAN

Anonymous said...

I have never bought a MM for over 10 years.

It will never be a newspaper if it is controlled by UMNO. It will be a propaganda sheet.

But if it it not controlled by UMNO, then it will lose the license.

Either way, it will die.

Anonymous said...

LOH!.. those who call rocky a spinner, don't you realise that you are also a spinner too? Spinner to brother Anwar Al-Jubori?!! Ha ha ha ha ha.. LOL

- Koko

RAJ said...

Sdr Rocky,

Congrats! This is the best news of the year. I am very confident that you will bring back the past glory of the oldest tabloid of the country.

During the late seventies after Uncle Tan left the MM as its editor he was also very critical of the paper and its contents. He even remarked that the MM was fit to be a toilet paper! At that time readership was high and when he left circulation dropped.

Then, way back in the early eighties (late 1981 and early 1982)the MM was revived with lots and lots of new contents. Readers were especially attracted to the scoops, hotline and page 3 girls! The scoop was, I believe, at the behest of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad the then newly appointed PM who urged the press to expose weaknesses in the government administration.

Those days ' call the MM Hotline' was a fashion statement when one was facing service or consumer problems. MM never relented until it made sure all complaints (genuine) were redressed.

And Rocky, please do not forget that during the sixties, seventies and early eighties the MM carried classified orbituary columns especially on deaths occuring late nights or early mornings. I know of some readers who buy the MM just to find out who 'forgot to breathe' the night before or dawn!

So, Rocky, if you could restore the above I am sure the MM, being the only afternoon paper, will create a new pool of readership just like the good old days.

Last but not least, try and introduce a newbie like the former 'S.H.Tan's Column'. This will provide readers to contribute and interact in a lighter vein.

With warm regards,


Nickname: RAJ

Anonymous said...

circulation & ingredient is very important!
.
.
lebihpercayaular@daptonto999years.com

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you may consider evening editions instead like the Chinese papers. Obviously you need to be seen impartial non partisan in your reporting.

Page 3 girls would be interesting.

Feed online developing stories with more when it hits the street at 7pm.

Charge 50cents

Ray

Ah Beng Crosby said...

Rocky today and Rocky then is 2 different people. I am a pessimistic, who won't, our Printing Acts will ensure things will be the same.

Would I buy a copy of the MM? Honestly, no, with or without Rocky.

BigDogDotCom said...

Rocky,

Lama aku tunngu ko nak masuk balik Malay Mail.

Bring back the glory. Show the world the true grit of the real Malay Mail and Ahiruddin "Rocky" Attan.

Good show, jolly good show old chap.

Anonymous said...

Finally the admission after so much denial. good job there. Hypocrite.

Good Job Like Blow Job

Anonymous said...

If it might help, put in the the same funnies as your competitor does. And bring back The Sunday Mail. Resurrect all previous columns bla bla bla

Gina said...

Dear Rocky,

Your post says it all. I can see the passion is still there. (A pro to consider).

I grew up reading the Malay Mail and when it went down the drain after U-Know-Who interfered, rasa sedih cos it left a void. As u pointed it correctly, it's a heritage indeed.

Weigh the pros & cons betul-betul before u make the final decision.

Rocky, seriously, if u take up the job can i subscribe MM from Perth? :-)

Fabian said...

To be profitable, MM has to be respectable
To be respectable, MM needs to remove obstacles,
To remove obstacles, MM needs to return to its fundamentals,
When MM solidifies its fundamentals, it should build a plan around win-nables.
Those winnables must be compatible to what the readers want and what the advertisers need and most importantly achievable.
Because informative,entertaining and elightening journalism, never mind the platform, is always profitable.

Good Luck to the MM

mr objective said...

Dear Rocky,

I dont know if congratulations are in order, but I believe u can do something for Malay Mail. A word of advice, itrs time to give this old hag a makeover. Forget about the print version, its time to turn the malay Mail into just an online publication, only way to go with this paper.

Btw Fauzi Omar couldn't do much with the Malay Mail cos your mentor Ahmad Talib was putting down everything that poor Fauzi was trying to do for the paper. I was in MM when Fauzi was the editor and expanding offices to JB, Ipoh, Penang was in his blueprint, But Ahmad shot it down. But he allowed you to do it. Sorry, Just wanted to put the records straight.

What the paper needs my friend is inventions, choosae the right people for the job, purely on merit that is.

Anonymous is right about Johnson's son, the boy may have potential, but he is certainly not ready to be columnist. Johnson should know that. But Johnson is not crap either, he will certainly be a much better choice than rizal hashim, who tends to get personal and emotional sometimes.

Just like in sports, not all great athletes make great coaches, likewise not all good reporters make good editors. Rizal is a good reporter, but certainly not editor material.


All the best bro.

Temuljin said...

Everytime I read your comments when Malay Mail is mentioned, I can't help but feel for you...how much you hurt at the plunder of the LEGEND that was Malay Mail.I can only imagine your passion for Malay Mail and only hope that you stop considering and plunge yourself to join the establishment you feel strongly for.In your days there,you made a difference and your contribution now can certainly take Malay Mail beyond it's glorious days. It may take a different form today accommodating and adapting to what it takes to reach the news readers in whatever manner or form.
Malay Mail is a strong brand that papers like Star emulate and defeat not because they were better but they have people with the right attitude and singlemindedness to WIN.
In Malay Mail, you shall be that amongst them who sincerely and passionately believes that Malay Mail can once again take it's place where it should belong............trend setting,dynamic,cares for people as it is it's motto and above all a GENUINE and RELEVANT newspaper.
With a forward thinking and strategically new partnership, Malay Mail can command the power the owners expect from it.
You can make it happen.60,000 used to believe you. Just imagine that is only a fraction of those who reads your blog.What's stopping you?

Mat Cendana said...

This is the second most important post that you've written at this blog!... at least to me. [the most important was An ex-junkie's blog Thanks to that post, which propelled the blog from PageRank0 to PR4, it brought that idiot out from the shadows and into society again].

I haven't read even 5% of this post yet, much less the comments. I should have been more alert and sent this comment sooner but I have a very good excuse - I was sleeping when you sent it and only woke up after Maghrib. (zohor & asar said goodbye to me). Then, I couldn't get connected... Why am I mentioning this? I'm hoping some Celcom people would see it and feel some shame in charging me RM68 a month for a 30-60Kbps connection speed - and ZERO CONNECTION, as last night.

Anyway, my initial comment is this: Let's get the Malay Mail readership UP and UP!!...and you have the personality to help make it so. Get the "right people" and carry out "the right strategies" and you WILL do that. So who are the right people, and what are the right strategies? Another time...

Why am I concerned about this? The last time I had bought a copy was on Tuesday 19 Nov 2008 - it isn't sold here (Kelantan). It was a day when I was in KL... and had met Mat Salo, Elviza - and you and Nuraina too! Haven't been to KL or anywhere that sells Malay Mail since. Anyway, what I'd like to say is this: I loved it - definitely worth the RM1 I had forked out; and more.

"I'll be back"

Mr. Page 3 said...

Rocky,

If you do decide to go back to MM, please, please I beg of you, bring back the Page 3 girls.

And if possible, could you make them pose topless please....?? I swear I'll take up a year's subscription in advance.

:-) Maverick

Anonymous said...

rocky, please update more.I simply love reading your blog.I am just 19 but everyday i am going to open your blog to see whether you have updated or not.-fuz

Mat Jerman said...

I hope that the Malay Mail continues to be a Government mouthpiece.

I hope that it will suppress truth and conjure lies in getting propaganda disseminated down.

I hope that it will uphold the politicians in the posts of power to the point that they are perfect, invincible and honest, by way of lies, deceit and spin.

I hope the Malay Mail continue to dish out boring news for the rich, so that the poor continue to be marginalised.

I hope the Malay Mail will be a racist newspaper that will continue to undermine human's basic rights and to fire up sentiments that causes races in Malaysia to hate one another immensely.

I think my hopes will come true with Rocky in.

Thanks Rocky, for keeping the hopes alive.

You rock!

Mat Cendana said...

After reading this thoroughly, and also the Singapore Business Times link, the Malay Mail looks set to follow the route pioneered by The Sun... This is interesting and also exciting (Ahem, BT: as if you folks don't know it already, must I, a kampung guy, stress how very important it is to spell someone's name correctly? It's "Cendana", not "Patung Chendana").

"Money makes the world go round", and no matter how honest and sincere a newspaper is in being a voice for the people, if there's nothing in the piggybank to pay the printing costs, journalists (AND contributors/stringers etc too, of course), the admin staff, and other operating costs, then it's TUTUP KEDAI. What a harsh thing reality is, damn!

Advertising - This is golden goose, which isn't a new discovery, of course. Obviously, MM will have to convince the agencies AND public that placing an ad in it will yield dividends. They'll only be convinced if you can show them the numbers; as in "readership". This is tough. But there are ways; and I'm sure the Redberry people have a few ideas. Their track record and experience do exude some confidence in me at least...

Online - It's good that MM seem to be aware of this; that it's now "a place where Google and the like rule". Even blue bloods like the New York Times are looking at this route. Personally, I'm of this opinion too - one day there will be no choices like now with its "print and online version"... One day not too far away in the future, there won't be newsPAPER, but "news without the paper".

It will be painful for the "print junkies" in the company and readers too, but I think it's something everyone has to adjust and adapt to. If MM is already convinced that this is the route it must follow, then GREAT - no second thoughts and hesitations about it anymore but FULL STEAM AHEAD!

GOOD LUCK, ROCKY & MALAY MAIL!

Ridzzy said...

Good news, but what a task you will be up against.

Not only is there issue of regaining some amount of credibility, but also to compete with the internet news portals.

The star online updates tomorrows content the night before - you have quite a challenge ahead.

Looking forward to any kind of changes in our MSM. For now, MM is great for me when i find one in the office to accompany me while doing my number#2 in the jamban..seriously

Sinatra_Z said...

This is a suggestion from an Electronics Engineer who has no experience whatsoever in Journalism and the only writing credentials he can claim is his weird blog.

Why I buy a newspaper.

So you can take it or just shove it aside but perhaps it could be proven useful if you do get back into Malay Mail.

1) If Malay mail could become the English version of Sinar Harian which is a bipartisan local paper then people would really love it. I know Sinar is bought by both PAS and UMNO supporters and that is quite a feat.

2) Not many English papers out there gives much attention to local music industry and entertainment. They may not admit it but many English newspaper readers would read things about Siti Nurhaliza's husbands controversies, Abby Abadi's divorce or even critics on Yasmin Ahmad's movies. Plus you can also help local young talents and Indie bands. Look at Mr Manager's blog, people do like entertainment news. The Star and NST don't have what these Malay newspapers have so how about give it a try.

3) In the columnist section it's good to have serious/socio political writers, the sort of Syed Nazri thing. But it would be very great if you could have columnists that is other than your usual angry opinionated writer. Sort of Dina Zaman in The Star or something light.

4) Write like how you write in the blog. Sure win!

If you ever get back into Malay Mail,
I wish you Good Luck and God Speed.

Anonymous said...

Congrats (again) Rock.

Knew you had the job all along ;)

ChengHo said...

Welcome back Rocky , u can beat Sun and Star.....

Aziz said...

as a former MM reporter and news editor (from march 1984 to mid-september 1986), i think i'm in a position to add some views & clarify some misinformation.

mm hit a peak of 70k a day in mid-86.when it had a good exclusive on page 1 circulation even hit 85k. the circulation for the day after the 1986 general election was 103k although the paper only went to bead in the afternoon and the vendors had to come back three times to balai berita to pick up more until about 4pm! i always said that it should be climbing further with the increasing expat population but not everyone agreed. even pushing the rubbish and clogged drains out of its pages required guts, patience and perseverence bcos the news desk was surrounded by traditionalists who insisted that mm should always be a "klang valley paper".

different editors of course have different ideas. around the time circulation was climbing i was asked to head the pioneering nst north but not before i was asked to choose one of two names to take over as news editor from october 1986. i was given no other choices. a year later circulation dropped big time to 55k and even when the star was out of business for 4 1/2 months in 1987, mm at best could do only 64k. it was down again and then up again to about 60k in the early 90s.

the regional edition was thought about even in 1988, especially after an experimental few days when the butterworth jetty collapsed. the then deputy MD of nstp zahari omar wrote to me in prai asking me for my views on such an edition. i duly did and still have a copy of that report. when i heard about plans to finally have that regional edition i told a former colleague that they should search the files for my report. i don't think they did.

where did the paper go wrong? many reasons. wrong people at the wrong places was one. of course u cannot argue with what content does to push up sales.

Anonymous said...

You say the daily circulation is around 20k now? Man,talk about dying a slow death. I remember reading a report sent to me once upon a time 20yrs ago that The Malay Mail was doing a daily average of 70k!

- olskoolrools -

Mat Cendana said...

@Mat Jerman
Hi MJ! Mat Cendana of Gambang here. You can call me Mat Cendana...
Your comment - I was laughing when I read what you had written. You are really one `lawak' guy - you have brought up so many good points! Haha!

Your use of "I hope" - it's so like the "I wish" that one chap had used which he `chedok' from a foreign ops-ed without acknowledging it... as if the concept was from his own mind 100%. Say, you're not him, are you? heheh!

I'm sure you must have sat back and smiled, thinking "People are sure to be in awe of my wit!"... I hate to pour cold water here, and I know you will surely say "Mat Cendana is just jealous of my high-level, sophisticated and urbane witticism!". But as a born busybody and someone with a big mouth, I just *have* to comment: It lacks the sharpness that you must have intended when you sat back and smiled. Grading-wise, I'd give it... 3/10.

Yes, I know you must be snarling to challenge me with a hurt: "*Who* are you to be giving points?!"... Well, I'm the owner of Mat Cendana BLOG REVIEW, which is said to be the most authoritative blog review on the planet! It's not "the most", of course - I think it's just number two or number three on the planet. Yeah, people always say that I'm such a modest guy...

Anyway, in the spirit of "blog quality control", here's just a bit of my comment - given in the hope that your next attempts will be better (as in "sharper" - you do intend to hurt Rocky's feelings, right? Well, it didn't work so work harder!)

For starters: It's so generic, and so so so general without much focus. And pretentious too - like any one of those socialist wannabes. Take it from me, Mat J: If you want to hurt, then make it "laser-like"... NARROW-FOCUS-ZAP-ZAP-ZAP!To do this, you must know the subject. Based on your writing, one thing is so obvious: You haven't read the Malay Mail. Right? Don't try to fake it with me lah! Haha!

Okay, let's see whether you're a smart student or a `dungu': Rewrite the comment by focusing on just ONE. Back it up with EXAMPLES. Concentrate and focus on that. Let's see how sharp it is as compared to the last one. (Send it in by 9AM Monday at the latest)

Mat Cendana said...

@Sinatra_Z & Others
To Ahirudin: I'm sure you, the good folks of Redberry and the editorial heads of Malay Mail have your own ideas on what the paper will be.

The rest of us here... well, we're the know-it-all busybodies who just love giving our opinions. And if the ideas don't work... well, we can always just shrug it off and move on without any material loss.

But I'm aware that a few people are putting up real money here in buying over the Media Prima shares, assuming the paper's debts and pouring in new capital. At the very least, Redberry & Rocky surely have a rough game-plan as to the general content. Hopefully, the suggestions by people like Sinatra_Z are already inside that working paper. If not, Rocky is going to get confused and hesitant between what he/Redberry have already decided upon... no thanks to us.

@Sinatra_Z - you have a blog? Hey, that makes you more than qualified to be a journalist, editor-in-chief AND publisher!:-) But your comments "as a READER" are extremely valuable and worth pondering.

Firstly, what Sinatra_Z had observed about Sinar Harian: Would they work with an English paper too? I'm quite surprised by SH - In 2006, I had thought "not many would care about it and they'd tutup kedai within three years"... Okay, I'm humbly admitting I was wrong.

But with an English paper...? Come to think of it, why not? That "bipartisan" stance is crucial - must be adhered to at all times. The individual writers might have their political preferences but one can't really say that SH "is pro-Umno or PAS". I hope Malay Mail will be like this too. In fact, why should it NOT be so??...

Ah, see here - Media Prima won't be around, so there won't be pressure from Umno. A few people had cynically mentioned that "Umno can withdraw MM's license"... NO, I feel many are a bit too harsh on Umno. I don't see much reason why the party will be too incensed if it's obvious that MM will be "responsible"... like not accuse Mat Cendana of being present when a Manchurian or Uzbek is blown with TNT... and then running to Austria when *she* can't come up with the evidence.

And anyway - Why should Malay Mail focus too much and too deeply on politics and such matters like NST, The Star and the online part-time liars like Malaysia Today, MalaysiaKini (okay, flame me) etc??

So what should it focus on? Well, Sinatra_Z's suggestion here is worth considering. Yeah, it might make MM something like a gossip rag. Bur why not? Heheh! I mean "a bit of it". If people want "100% serious stuff", well, look elsewhere. I'm expanding on his suggestion here: Make it FUN to read too. So what constitutes "fun"? I dunno... the "mengumpat" stuff, I guess Haha!

And since MM will focus on the online version too - Having a blog/s will help attract readers... with Rocky Bru at Malay Mail! How about it?

jep said...

I'm very interested kalau ada opening for me.... if u decides to rejoin MM.

Anonymous said...

Rocky,

I am a big fan Malay Mail. I remembered i padi 50 sen for the paper everydah coming back from work and first section is the classified. Those days MM was a popular choice to sell your car.

Gone were the days and Malay Mail was rebranded and I stop buying on regular basis.

Hope this will re-ignite its popularity....i am counting on you Bro !

monsterball said...

Good-luck to your working life with Malay Mail...if the offer is right.
In blogging...be neutral and not behave so openly as an UMNO racialist.
If you do..you can never improve Malay Mail with a one track ..narrow minded personality....no matter how smart you are.
You are very stubborn and selfish.
My advise is for your own good..not for opposition party to UMNO.
A good reporter is fair and just.
A racialist pro UMNO CEO will be cunning and choosy....for an agenda.
You said MM is Malaysia heritage...then make it a People's Power voice paper...to prove MM is a paper that cares.
With the words...Malaysian heritage"....make sure you know PR politicians are speaking on behalf of Malaysians too.
You should question government why harass Anwar and Lim Kit Siang..when the actual results are created by People's Power.
Want to harass..or arrest..do that to the millions Malaysians supporting change of government.
You know Najib claiming to be people's PM is full of shit.

gedix said...

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 – The race is on for the Najib administration to have a bigger footprint in the one space where it has not been able to dominate or influence discourse – the Internet.

Close associates of the Prime Minister are on the cusp of acquiring 75 per cent of the Malay Mail, one of the country’s oldest newspapers. The Singapore Business Times reported on Friday that the new owners plan a change in editorial and business direction – printing a limited number of free newspapers and pursuing an aggressive online strategy.

Also to be launched soon is a news portal, the Malaysian Mirror, the brainchild of supporters of MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat.


MESTI LAH GO BACK BRU...DUIT MAAA...SAPA TAK MAU??

Anonymous said...

Read in MI - article from ST from Singapore and not NST, that new MM is going to become chief spinner for Najib in the online world.

Woe! Woe! Woe!

What a let down. What is this world coming to. MM is being bought to become a politician's tool.

Anonymous said...

how nice, getting vss and now back to the same place with a better pay. phew.

Anonymous said...

what the point of you returning to MM when you become the mouthpiece of UMNO and spin the news for your UMNO boss? in nutshell, you become the puppet of UMNO.

Anonymous said...

Salam... brother,

i really missed MM, papers that cares etc... welfare, butter n bread, the sports updates, where bad, ah chai, yus, rizal, elan, purushotman, 2 name a few i cld remember, who
really made MM presence a need.
u all really worked hard, hunted news day n night. readers and other reporters we expecting MM by 11am everyday. u were part of the team. i was proud of that journalism while i was in bernama, utusan or bh.

i hate d 'porno' era infiltrating and displaying prono elements, words, titles, pix and phrases in d front, sports, entertainment pages, columns etc... although it is part of life, we share those during at our smoking corridor or chatting, it was so backward, uncivilised, bancrupt and 'corrupted'. they even corrupted the beauty of language.

it is better now, but yet far from the 80-90s.

i believe u & Yus start it again.

all the best brother.

isa nikmat

ZISmail said...

I was a loyal reader of the Malay Mail and what attracted me most to the paper was the sport section. It carried the most recent sport result and had very critical articles of the Malaysian sports.

samson said...

Hi Rocky,

I used to enjoy the Malay Mail especially the Sunday Mail when I was younger. The comics section was the best especially Garth and Modesty Blaise...although censored! It also used to be much thicker and full of news to read. Since I was up north, I had to wait a day for the papers and scoure for the sunday comix if I woke up late.

If possible please bring those back again as the current MM is too boring and trashy ie leading towards being a gossip paper :)

Mr.KETAM said...

Bru ..baru aku sedaq yg PENANG di perintah oleh Ketua MEnteri dan Timbalan Ketua MEnteri yg BUKAN anak jati PENANG..

Waaahhh org PENANG ni memang tak reti memerintah diri sendiri rupanya.. kah kah kah

ehhh aku pun org PENANG... waaaa malunya akuuuuuuuuu...

Anonymous said...

Mat Cendana,

STFU pls....

MatKgCendana

Anonymous said...

http://wfol.tv/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=601&Itemid=40

The Indonesian beauty Manohara Pinot escaped the tight security around her and flew home to Indonesia, free and happy into her mother’s arm in a real dramatic story with a fish tail’s end.

She revealed a strange story of being given shots to calm her and of her bleeding breast.

"I was not treated well. It is all true. All that has been said about me and the way I was treated,” said Manohara

GOD..ave our royalty!

jumbo mumbo

mob1900 said...

Gd luck on your quest to turn MM around.

BTW, do you really agree on the Kijang Mas's extremist/distorted version of 1Sekolah?

'coz the petition signing and the petition on your rockybru2 is 2 totally different thing!

Zhang said...

A good horse don't graze at the same spot twice.

Mat Cendana said...

If Rocky listens with the intention to follow what we have said, then he's going to be a very confused guy with a very disjointed newspaper:-)

There are different opinions and wants as indicated from some of the commentators here. In fact, they'd tend to be contradictory! I'm more or less with Sinatra_z - however, a few want it otherwise. Ah, what a headache Rocky must be having!

Mat Cendana said...

@Anon STFU 2:16 PM
Aisey, come on lah, friend: if you want to say something, say it like a man. None of this cryptic-cryptic <-- (bastardisation of English language) PSRM,PKR, RPK, CHEH comment.

Or maybe this isn't a man! A woman, sending a mysterious and possibly esoteric message to me. It means...she's trying to flirt! Ah, it's clearer now: She's gonna deny it and say the letters mean "something else"; crude even. But I know! She's saying "Still Thinking (and) Feeling (for) yoU" Hah! Didn't take long to decipher what this shy secret admirer wants!

BrightEyes said...

Congrats Roc, looks like the MI was right about your appointment to the highest levels of the MalayMail. Perhaps they got the title wrong, but the gist of it was quite true. I'm gonna see how the paper fares... just don't make it like another Utusan/BH/Star/NST, and it'll do ok.

Anonymous said...

to become a popular community paper, you have to organise more forums like what you did here with your blog. link the paper to your blog which is more popular than most of the papers now. and you make use of these forums to promote your paper. of course only your paper gets full rights to publish the happenings of these forums. soon you see people cannot live without MM.

THINKING SMART

Anonymous said...

The Malay Mail seems to be the story of the hour. That's nice to know as the paper deserves the recognition.

it has changed drastically over the past one year or so and i have become an ardent reader.

im an ex-journalist and i can tell you that it was never easy and it will never be easy for people to run the malay mail.

i was there for a short while and did not have the courage to stay on as it was so difficult to keep up with some of the reporters. oh, how they work is beyond me.

i moved on quickly to the nst newsdesk where things were a breeze. sometimes i did not have a story and got away with it - many times actually. no one bothered. i then ended up in the subs.

i know the malay mail people and aziz hassan is certainly not one of those who made the paper. he actually destroyed team spirit with his silly attempts to overthrow those in power.

ihad a good laugh reading his comments as if he is the only person that can revive the paper. fact is aziz, the paper has already been revived to it's old self by tony francis and his trusted generals.

it looks like aziz is lobbying for a position now. he will kill it off. take a rest aziz.

as for rocky, i dont know much about him and wish him all the best.

mamak putih said...

refering to mr objective comment... i wonder why u said rizal is not the rite choice??? yes i admit that the problem with rizal is his "hard hitting mouth'. he blasts as he likes ... but he cetainly not emotional or personal.. he is certaily the best sports writer in the country at the moment and has the rightful value to be the sports editor.. despite mr objective believes that not all good atheltes can be good coaches... certainly not in the case of rizal as a reporter.. he has what it takes to be a good editor as well...

Anonymous said...

what about a page for all the would be miss malaysia aspirants. there are enough bimbos and dumbos who read pages like this. a page for thick politics..everyone is into politics nowadays all the political people will buy the paper just play your cards well not to be too overtly a stooge. a page for makan for health..everybody is health conscious nowadays. a page for how to get rich fast the right way and one page to tell the government how to cut down inefficiency and crime rate. you will make it.

SOME IDEAS

anak warisan said...

saudara,

congrats!

you did well for the Malay Mail so I'm confident you can help boost the paper.

one thing i notice when people criticize the mainstream media --- they keep blasting it as one-soded, an Umno/BN mouthpiece blah blah blah . so that is why they turn to others ...

it is true that NST is "controlled" by Umno, the Star by MCA --- but news is news. an accident is an accident. when 10 peope die, they say 10 people die.

of course, when it comes to politics -- they'll slant to their political masters..

SO what the hell is so different from harakah or suara keadilan or Malaysiakimi?

Malaysiakini used to be so anti-Mahathir, so pro-Keadilan.

Was that ok?

Not one-sided?

Today Malaysiakini is stil so pro-Pakatan. So that is ok?

No newspaper can be so unbiased politically-lah.

If you hate the BN, then of course, you dont want to read the "biased" MSM.

Who said Rocky will use the MM to spin????????

Get over it-lah you pro-Pakatan people!

LazyCook said...

Rocky -- I remember my dad buying the MM -- and us kids reading it. It was a fun paper then...this was back in the 1970s/1980s. I owe by interview with the NSTP in 1985 to Lim Chang Moh -- doyen of MM's entertainment column then. So, my dear friend, wishing you every success whatever happens. I see Zainul is back in favour! Tell the dear boy he is bloody hopeless in communicating!

Anonymous said...

What Malay Mail, NST, Star, all useless except for Malaysiakini dare to carry the story of Manohara Odelia Pinot.

Anyway the name "Malay Mail" is heading for a death end, how do you expect Mat Rempit to read English? My suggestion is change the paper to a magazine called "Mat Rempit Mail".

Satria Asia said...

I would be great if you accepted Rocky! MM needs you man....

dani'el kannan said...

Roc,

Yes, it is true, times have changed, newspaper offices worldwide have been shuttering down, but the malay mail is to many of us, like you said, a Malaysian heritage, it is going to be an uphill task to bring it back to it's glory days, and most importantly to restore its credibility,..and good, honest noble causes as mentioned above will be hard to achieve, anything good is always hard to achieve, it takes 2 very common ingredients, sincerity and hard work....

search your heart roc, really sit and search your heart, it should not be difficult for you as you Have done it before.....you can do it again, the only difference is that it is no longer the early 2000's now, it is 2009...

I agree with many that the essence of the malay mail was that many of us looked forward to getting a copy because we knew that it was a good read...period...we looked forward to the 10 am delivery in most places in the klang valley at least....because you created anticipation in us....but now....the newspapers report news that are sometimes up to a week old...you must keep in focus that even though internet penetration is not yet nationwide, you are still competing with that medium, you must give people a reason to buy the malay mail again....make it relevant...again....

search your heart and the answers are right there roc...all the best...

there are people who will disagree, but most of us in the entertainment industry agree that you are still perhaps one of the best editors the malay mail ever had...from our perspective at least...

make it Entertaining.....

KEEP WELL ROC...

Anonymous said...

People can talk until the cows come home about how great the MM will become when a new chief takes over. But once the dust has settled and just about one year later, the brickbats will start flying in. If the guy is a real bungler, flak will fly sooner than later.

It looks like the MM and NST are going back to the future with a bunch of KeMe wiggling their way back to do the bidding of NR.

These are the very types who were there when the two papers were allowed to slide down the drain. But the propaganda tells a different story and unknowing commenters licked it up like lapdogs.

One ex-news editor even tried to paint a nice picture of himself as a good guy and others are just bums in journalism. What a jerk!

The attempt by MM to invade the Northern region ended in utter failure but readers were told about this as a great move. Talk about great spinners!

The perception of an organization is crucial. A negative one will always hinder its progress no matter who you engaged or how much you put in. Change that image and, maybe, things might look up a bit.

But will a leopard change its spots?

Lucifer

jonathan said...

Bro, quite inspirational writing,

2 words

"Allahu Akbar"

Anonymous said...

MM got so much of history behind it....i tought it was just another tabloid newspaper.

never bought a mm before said

mohammad Mekar said...

it's about money and power bro!!
Not about Malaysian heritage.

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote
"how nice, getting vss and now back to the same place with a better pay. phew."
12:02 PM....
This is Malaysia Boleh mah,.,why not..Because Rocky worked so hard for it in the last few months.

peminat setia RR said...

KUALA LUMPUR: My heart goes out to the self-proclaimed NST”s greatest ever and the one and only brilliant editor – RR.

Indeed what is happening to RR now is really sad and my heart goes out for him. RR had worked extremely well to build NST. No single person can ever match the level of enthusiasm, commitment and dedication shown by RR.

Over the years RR has managed to build NST and only he deserves all the credits for the success.

Unfortunately some people are just cruel and RR is the victim.

RR has told people that he is very sad and depressed because all his hard work would go down the drain. The reason being the uncalled appointment of the new regime ie zainul and ahmad talib.

Poor RR how can he work under ahmad talib and zainul who according to RR cannot write well and there are many mistakes and weaknesses in stories wrote by zainul.

The thing is that RR has gone around telling everybody that if ahmad talib comes in, he would resign. This is because RR feels that ahmad would bring NST down the drains.

And now the great RR, a man of his words, has no choice but to keep to his promise. Where to put his face if he does not resign. Malu besar who.

So to RR, keep up to your words, Do not wait any longer. Prove that you have your pride and a man of honour.

Believe me you will go down history for your great sacrifice. Hidup RR. But if you decide to go back against your words, then I donno lah what to say RR. PLEASE do not dissapoint us your great fans.
End.

Anonymous said...

Rockey, please blog the following hot topic lah!

1) PKFZ
2) KT stadium collapsed
3) Kalentan Princess excape
4) Utusan racist articles
5) PKR big win in by-election.
6) PPP spat
7) Najib's 45% approval rate
8) Umno Nozula apology to Husam

Sarip Dol said...

selamat maju jaya. semoga sdr dapat membawa sinar baru kpd akhbar ini.

Vernon Kedit-Jolly said...

Boss,

BY THE WAY, my Mr. Manager's Blog crossed the 3 million unique hits mark two weekends ago. And to celebrate, guess what I did? I closed Mr. Manager's Blog down :-) Why? Best to leave the past in the past and to start anew. Mr. Manager's Blog holds too many memories, some not so pleasant.

I've started a new blog, called V.

vernonkeditjolly.blogspot.com

Same content, different style. Do drop by sometimes and pay us a quick visit. Once a blogger, always a blogger I guess :-)

V

AkuLaParpuKari said...

weyyy..aku macam keling tongkang x?..heh..pasaitu aku suka makan parpu..hampa kalau jumpa aku kat luaq jgn pulak tak teqoq noo..hehehe

Anonymous said...

For me, all news in this world are never neutral!. CNN, BBC, AL Jazeera just name it. But, fact is fact! Some of the newspapers(or not news) in our countries, they're never any facts. All tabloids. Hear Hear!

My cents, make sure Malay Mails have hot news but with reliable facts. For a better generation. No Miss Malay mail please. Readers are getting intelligent nowadays. They dont want craps and tabloids. Save that for the kampung ceramah!

Sinatra_Z said...

Parpu,
hang kontroversi sangat laa.. Rocky segan nak tegoq hang bila dia minum ngan Wee Choo Keong ka Jeff Ooi kaa. hahahahahaha.

Kang depa kata dia kena bayaq dengan Najib laa anjing Bn la pulak kalau dia minum ngan hang kat kayu.

Tapi kalau hang belanja tu boleh lah.

Anonymous said...

Rocky,

Amin, semoga hang maju kedepan sentiasa. Tapi, pleaaase dont ever blog about that Prince and PRINCESS FIONA ye bang! Dah cukup cheap and publicity merata.Pas ni dia kaya lagi!!

Mina Terkini

nstman said...

Rocky, you are going to MM basically for the money. You dont need a rocket science degree to realise MM is dead and buried. Granted you may draw a few thousand readers but in the end, MM cannot survive on a few more readers. MM needs adverts, and right now, adverts are a scarce commodity. Whoever thinks MM can survive on whatever form is an idiot. Period.

Ahmad said...

@nstman
"Whoever thinks MM can survive on whatever form is an idiot. Period."

IN whatever form lah. Benda gini pun aku kena ajar...

I'm one of the "Whoever" - not only that, I also think Malay Mail will PROSPER too, if it plays its cards right and make a few bold calls. So what does that make me? Can't be a simple "idiot" then who only thinks it will survive.

I can state here what the paper can do to face the challenges. However, I don't think a mental retard could ever fathom even half the concepts

Mamak Singapura said...

Judging by the comments here..I bet 90% have never read the Malay Mail or gone through its pages carefully.
Fair play la brother!