Media expert urges to find solutions outside the industry

Alan Soon of the Splice Newsroom attending an expert lecture for Southeast Asia Media Training Network (SEAMTN) in Vientiane, Laos PDR.

Alan Soon, the co-founder of Singapore’s Splice Media, gave an expert lecture during the Annual Partnership Meeting of Southeast Asia Media Training Network (SEAMTN), a project of Fojo Media Institute based in Thailand.

Alan Soon, obsessed about newsroom operations, digital transformation and building the new business of media, used to be a Managing Editor of Yahoo Media for India and Southeast Asia. He has also been a producer and reporter at CNBC, Bloomberg and Kyodo News.

In joining Fojo’s partners, Alan shed his insight on “Mega-Trends in Media and the Impact on Journalism Education”, tailored for the SEAMTN project’s partners – journalism institutions – from Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

In May 2019, Splice introduced a lineup of media startups at the Splice Beta festival in Chiang Mai. What are these startups like?
”Splice Beta was our way of showcasing some of the most interesting media startups in Asia. Each of these startups were similar in that they were 1) started by mid-level journalists who wanted a better way of serving an audience, 2) focused on a niche category, geography, or interest, 3) nimble and agile.”

How do you define ‘media’? 
“We think of media as anything that uses content to grab your attention. This is content that informs, educates, entertains, and helps you make decisions.”

What challenges do you see for journalism in time of multi-media platforms?
“There’s a huge disconnect in the way content is created, distributed, and consumed. None of these are aligned. Many newsrooms are slow to adopt faster ways of creating and publishing content; they’re lost when it comes to making sure that the content is reaching a specific audience. And they’re no longer in control of how content is being consumed – ie. on Facebook, Google, or YouTube.”

What is your view on the future of journalism? 
“We are actually super optimistic about where things are headed; we think we’re actually in a golden age of media. For the first time, you have everything you need to create, publish and amplify content in your phone. You can reach your reader or customer in the right place, on the right platform, in the right format, with the right monetization. This wasn’t the case a decade ago.”

How should journalism educators be prepared for impact?
“Start with the work that needs to be done in media. We need people who can work in design, product, project management, analytics, business development, and of course, content-creation itself. This phase of journalism requires an all-of-industry approach to learning. Journalism can’t be only about the craft – it needs to be a viable business built on products that people want.”

What is/are your tips for journalism practitioners?
“Familiarize yourselves with startup communities. Understand how nimble, fast-moving startups work. Figure out how to build products that people want. The answers we need to breathe life into media are outside of our industry. Remember – the biggest disruptions in media (Facebook, Google, YouTube, Netflix, etc.) were things that we never saw coming because we were so focused on the craft.”