Twenty-one years after a group of regional editors sealed an agreement in Bangkok to form a voluntary alliance, Asia News Network (ANN) has taken a major step forward with its formal registration as a legal entity, based in Singapore.
The new company, Asia News Network Limited, will strive to bring Asia closer through an active sharing of news content on developments in the region between the 23 members of the alliance.
Becoming a formal legal entity was also considered necessary to enable the grouping to take a step forward in working on joint projects, such as hosting conferences together and syndication of content.
Born as a grouping of nine media titles, ANN now includes 23 leading titles of the region, based in major locations in the region.
The network’s members hail from the 10 South-east Asian economies, China, Japan and South Korea as well as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia.
The Straits Times is a founding member of the alliance, said Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English/Malay/Tamil Media Group and editor of ST, who is also chairman of the network: “After 20 years of working together, all of us felt it was time for us to take things forward, by forming a company limited by guarantee, based in Singapore.
“This opens up new opportunities for us to collaborate on editorial projects, working with partners and sponsors, and other initiatives, all with a view to promoting good journalism and credible content on the region, across the ANN grouping.”
The registration means the “institutionalization as an entity whose permanence is guaranteed by the commitment of its members,” added Mr Ravindra Kumar, editor & managing director of The Statesman, India.
The change in ANN’s status is “an opportunity for the alliance to seek new partners and sponsors, opening up a whole new dimension for the grouping,” said Esther Ng, Chief Content Officer, Star Media Group.
“This is new territory, so it is exciting,” she added.
The founding members of the network sought to promote coverage of Asian affairs through regional journalists for an Asian audience, at the time of inception.
The rising costs of subscribing to international wire services in the years after the 1997 Asian financial crisis weighed among considerations of the editors to establish the grouping.
The alliance’s members now see bringing Asia closer as their key challenge as the grouping begins a new chapter as a company limited by guarantee in Singapore.
Fernandez said, “Given the many challenges facing the media industry, there is much scope, and need, for media organizations to work more closely together, from training and developing our journalists, to working on joint editorial projects and events.”
Mahfuz Anam, editor & publisher of Bangladesh’s The Daily Star, added, “It is my hope that in the coming years we will really be able to bring Asia closer through a more intense exchange of news and views to create a partnership of growth and prosperity that will make the coming Asian Century truly remarkable.”
The process to transform the voluntary alliance into a legal entity commenced soon after the network marked its 20th anniversary in Seoul in April last year.
Members of the alliance debated two other prominent locations - Tokyo and Perth - recommended by international professional services firm KPMG before voting in favor of moving the alliance from Bangkok to Singapore.
Readers can expect “a projection of an Asia bound together by ideas, greater cooperation and collaborative projects that concern the region,” said Kumar.
“In coming years, ANN will establish a global footprint as Asia’s most authoritative media voice,” he added.
Over the years, members have collaborated on several editorial projects, host conferences in different countries and engage heads of government in conversation, including Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi.
ANN members exchanged views with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Blue House during its 20th anniversary celebrations in Seoul.
ANN could offer more original news analyses and there will be more organizational collaboration between members to offer in-depth analyses on issues affecting the region, said Ms Ng.
“For example, a new partner could fund an in-depth coverage of the South China Sea conflict or how Covid-19 affected the region,” she noted, adding that “readers would want to get an insight into Asia through the eyes of Asians.”
Asia News Network's members are:
Bangladesh’s The Daily Star
Brunei’s Borneo Bulletin
Cambodia’s The Phnom Penh Post and Rasmei Kampuchea
China Daily in China and Hong Kong
India’s The Statesman
Indonesia’s The Jakarta Post
Japan’s The Japan News
Laos’ Vientiane Times
Malaysia’s The Star and Sin Chew Daily
Mongolia’s Gogo Mongolia
Myanmar’s Eleven Media Group
Nepal’s The Kathmandu Post
The Philippines’ Philippine Daily Inquirer
Singapore’s The Straits Times
South Korea’s The Korea Herald
Sri Lanka’s The Island
Thailand’s The Nation
Vietnam’s Vietnam News.