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Asian media must rise to world stage, too

Updated On: Nov 10, 2010
As regional powers grow in global stature, so should their news platforms' voices in the international arena
TODAY, Nov 10, 2010
The world has shifted in the last decade and more shifts will come. Like an earthquake, the global financial crisis will bring aftershocks and a new firmament. In these unsettled times, Asia will be more prominent. 
Yet the region's new prominence is not unproblematic. Anticipate growing pains within countries and competition between them. The role of the United States - part of the region although not geographically within it - is also evolving. America needs to engage, and habits of dominance must adjust to a more equal Asia.
Media, and especially Asian media, will be tested by these times. Even as Asia is rising to be more economically equal, few Asian voices have weight in the international arena of news and opinion.
Asian media remains nationalistic and even parochial. Where they have weight and resources - like the Chinese government investment in Xinhua news agency, China Daily, CCTV and other media - suspicions of the strong hand of state limit their credibility.
For Singapore, the Government is said by some to "punch above its weight", with influence and ideas. The Singapore media, however, is dogged by questions about freedom. While these peeve some Singaporeans, perceptions do matter and have been quite consistently poor. The handsome profits that some media companies show have not translated into international credibility or influence. 
In its first 10 years, TODAY has been a successful experiment in ending the monopoly in Singapore's print media. It has built up credibility with a domestic audience and been willing to be different. While the newspaper has comparatively scant resources, attitude and elan have brought it this far. 
The next 10 years will not be judged by the same benchmark. Asia's rise will need its voices to rise too. 
The Asian media must not shy from controversies in order to be current and credible. 
It must harness resources without being beholden to state control or large corporate interests. It must know the ground while not being parochial or narrowly nationalistic. 
Asian media must rise to the challenge, and so must TODAY. 

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