Mon, 22 Mar 1999

Eight newspapers set up Asia News Network

BANGKOK (JP): Eight major Asian newspapers have joined forces by signing an agreement to form the Asia News Network (ANN) to optimize coverage of news events in the region.

The agreement is the first of its kind of cooperation between newspapers in Asia where they will exchange news, features and op-ed articles on a daily basis giving the Asian press dynamism on the scale never witnessed before.

The agreement was signed last Friday by editors or managing editors representing The Statesman from India, The Jakarta Post from Indonesia, Sin Chew Jit Poh and The Star from Malaysia, The Manila Times from the Philippines, The Straits Times from Singapore, The Nation from Thailand and Viet Nam News.

The event was witnessed by Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Sukhumbhand Paribatra and helped put together by Konrad-Adenauer Foundation of Germany.

"The editors decided that a more permanent professional and business relationship be pursued among their respective publications with the goal of improving the coverage of Asian affairs by Asian media ," said Pana Janviroj, editor of The Nation, who was elected the first chairman of the ANN's Executive Board.

Other board members are Ng Poh Tip, Group Chief Editor of The Star, Ravindra Kumar, managing editor of The Statesman, Felix Soh, Foreign News Editor of The Straits Times, Susanto Pudjomartono, Chief Editor of The Jakarta Post, Lew Hing Chang, Executive Chief Editor of Sin Chew Jit Poh, Nguyen Khuyen, Editor-in-Chief of Viet Nam News, and Chit Estella, Managing Editor of The Manila Times.

Thomas Stehling, director of Asia Media Projects of Konrad- Adenauer Foundation, will serve as adviser to the Board while Ermin Garcia, Publisher of The Manila Times, and Suthichai Yoon, Group Editor-in-Chief of The Nation, are honorary members.

"We are honored to have played the role in bringing the Asian press together," said Stehling.

Apart from enhancing and improving news coverage of Asian affairs, the other objectives of ANN is to provide member newspapers with reliable access to news sources in Asia and to help promote the professional development of journalism in the region.

ANN is expected to consider expanding new members when the executive board meets again later this year. The agreement stipulates that each Asian country shall be represented by one English newspaper, unless otherwise decided by the Board and one vernacular newspaper.

Janviroj said that leading newspapers from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and other countries in the Subcontinent will eventually be invited to join ANN.

The benefits of ANN include free publication of news stories, analyses and photographs from the network members who will post the same-day stories into a website to be hosted by Calcutta- based The Statesman.

Network members will also help one another through sharing of facilities or manpower and will embark on an exchange program for their journalists either on a bilateral or as a group. The network will also sponsor projects that will generate news for the region.

ANN's Executive Board will meet twice a year. (spm)