Newspapers in South Asia are the envy of their counterparts in the West

13 februari, 2018

Newspapers in South Asia are, or at any rate should be, the envy of their counterparts in the West.

While owners in Europe, North America, Australasia and elsewhere struggle with falling circulations and revenues, the newspaper sector in South Asia - and in Bangladesh in particular - remains healthy and vibrant.

There are an estimated 100 daily titles in Dhaka alone.

That does not mean the industry can be complacent about its future.

The Daily Star is the biggest English-language newspaper in Bangladesh with a stunning 77 per cent market share.

But its staff agree they still need to behave as if there was intense competition for every reader. And they agree they need to build on the success of their website to win users, as more and more people in the country go online for their news.

A December 2017 survey put the number of people online in Bangladesh at 80 million - or about 48 per cent of the population. This is rising fast, with most users accessing the Net on mobile phones.

With this background in mind, FOJO commissioned a week of discussion and training for future editors at the Daily Star.

Some aspects of editorial leadership in the churning worldwide news business remain the same: focus on distinctiveness, focus on quality, work efficiently, don't miss a story, get the best out of your team.

Other aspects are the product of the digital age: think strategically, be flexible, be ready to ditch old assumptions, change working practices and embrace new skills.

Experience tells me there are two aspects to change: knowing what to do and knowing how to do it.

The first is often very difficult - but it is usually easier than the second.

Yes, the best-laid plans do sometimes "gang aft agley*" in the sense that they get off track. But more often, they simply do not get going at all.

Change in newsrooms needs champions. It needs to be pushed through. Momentum is what counts. Lose momentum and you risk losing the whole project.

The Daily Star is fortunate in many respects: not only does it have the dominant market position, a viable business model and strong brand values, it also has a loyal staff awake to the changes in the news business and ready to adapt.

The newspaper has a 27-year success story to tell. It is now creating the next chapters in that story.

Bob Eggington

Listen to Mafuz Anam, editor of The Daily Star, talking about the project.

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