Wednesday, June 27, 2012

House of M: Fairfax Freefall

This is a link to the video for Anjung Singgah. Apart from being one of the few Government 1Malaysia initiatives which does not utilise the 1- prefix, which I personally think is lame, it is also one of the best.

Anjung Singgah is a home for the homeless. They take in people off the streets and give them free board for two weeks, three meals a day and free counseling. They also hook up with 1Azam - another initiative, to find them jobs.

Some of the stories are heartbreaking - a couple sleeps and bathes at Puduraya. A dude from Sabah was conned into coming to the Peninsular after having promised a job as a cook, only to find he was conned.

I met one of these guys during the recent Jelajah Janji Ditepati in Melaka and will share with you the video as soon as I get it.

Talking about the homeless and jobless, I can say that traditional media is looking at apocalypse way sooner than it or myself anticipated. On June 18, Fairfax Media - one of Australia's largest media conglomerate - shut down printing plants and is laying off 1,900 people from its print division. 20 per cent would come from editorial.

They would go full on digital and erect paywalls to existing sites.

Meanwhile, in the States, around 160++ newspapers have closed down.

This highlights two things - the Internet is having a major impact on even large newspaper companies and that content is not free and must be paid for. Not blogs where quality control is hardly an issue, because people don't give a shit, but real content, stuff you have to get right.

All content costs money. There is no such thing as a free media, because somebody has to pay for it. You think Malaysiakini is free? Hell naw! You have to pay salaries, maintenance costs, electricity bills, production, logistics (yes, even for Internet media) and loads of other things.

I have been saying this for years: Media companies must stop seeing itself as a merchant for the medium, but the content. The medium simply enriches the consumption experience - it is not the end product, but is part of the product.

In simple terms, newspapers don't sell dead trees, but the content. It's the NEWS, not the PAPER, geddit?

It heartens me when top people speak of this important shift from focusing on the medium and more on to the content. Because it means there is hope.

If you're a fucking dinosaur and hope one day people will drop this Internet FAD and start reading dead trees again as well as inhale asbestos and don blackface to play Barrack 'The Minstrel' Obama, and die of fucking polio and smallpox, well, why don't you do us all a favour and go back into the jungle and blowpipe your own dick.

For YEARS, almost my entire career, I have been telling newspaper people this. Nobody ever listens to me, which is a good thing. Because if I fuck up, no one will have to be homeless and jobless, waiting for the next bed to free up at the nearest Anjung Singgah (they only have 78 at a time).

I have the luxury of not being important enough to decide shit. Some people, though, are not as lucky. Whatever they decide now will determine the fate of thousands of people, and whether the Government will be farsighted enough to extend the Anjung SInggah and 1Azam projects to droves of unemployed, starving journalists in maybe a decade or two.

I'm not saying "panic now!" or yelling "FIRE!", what I'm saying is, we should all exit in an orderly fashion. With enough brains and decisiveness, we can all become platform agnostics and find homes for our content, to preserve this industry and our way of life. Because it has come to that.

Wake up, shape up and move fucking forward.