Recently, news website Rakyat Times, made a public appeal asking for donations to keep themselves afloat in financially trying times. What does this say about the state of news organisations in Malaysia? Is the money drying up?
Traditionally, news organisations in Malaysia, like anywhere around the world, have always relied on advertising and sponsorship to maintain sustainability. But it seems that this is slowly starting to trickle.
As written by The Ant Daily writer, Hazlan Zakaria, in his column, we have seen BERNAMA TV struggling to pay their employees, ABN had to let their staff go and so has MOBtv.
This is even more pertinent for online news sites because the financial model for the Internet is all still pretty much experimental with no one model being significantly successful.
Of course, there is also the fact that journalism is suppose to be independent and uninfluenced by either political parties or corporate dinosaurs.
And so crowdfunding comes into the picture because, technically, journalism serves the people. So it really would be in their interest to help sustain it.
In Asia, several news organisations have started with crowdfunding helping them to do so, such as The Hong Kong Free Press. In Malaysia, the only organisation that comes close to this model is MalaysiaKini. They started 16 years ago, receiving grants that helped them along the way, and are now fully self-sustainable.
So let’s see how this issue develops.