MANILA, Philippines—When President Benigno Aquino III spoke before editors of member-newspapers of the Asia News Network (ANN) at a dinner on Thursday night, he might have been addressing almost half of the world’s population.
ANN, an alliance of 22 leading newspapers in 19 countries, has a strong presence in the world’s most populous nations—China through China Daily, India through The Statesman, Indonesia through the Jakarta Post, Pakistan through The Dawn and Bangladesh through The Daily Star.
Thus, the dinner meeting with representatives from the largest organization of English newspapers in Asia gave the President the opportunity to reach a wider audience in the international community.
Addressing the ANN journalists, Mr. Aquino cited the critical role of the media and exhorted them to uphold integrity and truth in reporting in their respective countries.
In the open forum following his speech, the President fielded questions from the ANN editors on topics ranging from the Philippines’ special relationship with the United States, the Mindanao peace talks and next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia.
ANN executive editor Pana Janviroj, who is also president of Thailand’s The Nation Group, thanked the President for gracing the occasion and the Inquirer for hosting the dinner with the President.
The ANN editors were in town for the group’s annual coordinators’ meeting, the first time it was being held in the Philippines. The conference was hosted by Konrad Adenauer Asia Center for Journalism at Ateneo de Manila University. This year’s conference theme was “Crowdsourcing in Asian Journalism” with ANN members sharing the experiences of their respective countries.
The ANN was founded in 1999 for the purpose of sharing editorial content such as news stories, feature articles, editorials and photos among its members. From a core group of seven members, the ANN membership has expanded to 22 newspapers in 19 countries. Its website is at www.asianewsnet.net.
Other ANN members are Kuensel of Bhutan, The Brunei Times, Rasmei Kampuchea of Cambodia, The Star of Malaysia, Sin Chew Daily of Malaysia, The Kathmandu Post of Nepal, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Straits Times of Singapore, The Island Newspaper of Sri Lanka, The China Post of Taiwan, The Nation of Thailand and Vietnam News. Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun, Vientiane Times and Eleven Media Group of Burma did not send representatives to the annual meeting.
The Bangkok-based ANN holds the annual editorial coordinators’ meeting to strengthen cooperation in the exchange of editorial content and photos among its members.
It also holds an annual meeting of its board of directors which is composed of the publishers and the top editors of ANN member-newspapers. The ANN board meeting is usually hosted by the ANN chair who is elected by board members on a rotational basis every year. This year’s meeting was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in late April. Next year’s host is Singapore.
The Inquirer last held the ANN chairmanship in 2008 when the late Inquirer publisher Isagani Yambot was elected ANN chair.
Manila last hosted the ANN board meeting during the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos.
Through the years, the ANN has evolved from a mere sharing of editorial content and photos to business cooperation.
At least three ANN members have recently launched, through the ANN’s initiative, iSnap mobile applications that enable their readers to access more photos, graphics and videos of news reports by a mere snap of their mobile phones.
The app is now available at The Nation of Thailand, The Star of Malaysia, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer through INQSnap. More ANN members will be launching their own iSnap mobile app this month.
Thailand’s The Nation, the Inquirer and Malaysia’s The Star have also launched brand display, an advertising system for websites.
To generate advertising revenues for its members, the ANN has set up a representative office in Singapore to receive ads in behalf of its members. Through the Singapore office, which is hosted by Malaysia’s The Star, advertisers with regional ad campaigns can post ads in ANN member newspapers at discounted group rates.
Also in the pipeline is an e-paper project which will combine the e-papers of ANN members. Plans are also afoot to launch an ANN jobs online site.
Advertising road show
Aside from sharing editorial content, ANN members will soon also exchange video content.
The ANN has also lined up several events for its members this year. These include an advertising road show to be held in Singapore on Oct. 1 with seven ANN members, including the Inquirer, participating.
The ANN and China Daily Weekly Asia will launch the Young Asia Leadership Awards on Dec. 12 in Bangkok.
ANN members will select young leaders from their countries aged 40 and below for at least three of the following categories: Young CEO (for a company with more than 500 employees), Young Entrepreneur (for a company with less than 500 employees), Young Woman Leader, Young Innovator, Young Cultural Ambassador, Young Sustainability Champion Leader, Young Media Choice and Young Civil Society Leader.
Deadline for nominations is on Oct 25. The winners, which ANN editors will help select will be invited to Bangkok to receive the awards in a grand event to be presided by Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.