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MediaCorp mulls merger of news websites Channel NewsAsia and TODAYOnline

MediaCorp has been in discussions to merge its two news websites, TODAYonline, the web version of its free daily newspaper, and Channelnewsasia.com, the online portal for its pan-regional TV channel.

TODAY online

TodayOnline

The idea to bring the websites – which are both among the most read in Singapore – together has been in development for some time, and would avoid content duplication; both sites regularly cover the same stories.

A merger would be part of MediaCorp’s push to reconfigure the company for the digital era that has gathered pace over the last year under CEO Shaun Seow.

Last month, the company’s newly hired head of digital Shane Mitchell said that the publisher was pushing to break all news online before other media as part of the news organisations’ push to adopt a “digital first delivery mindset”. Unique visitors to channelnewsasia.com and todayonline.com have grown by 70 per cent and 49 per cent respectively year on year as a result of the strategy, Mitchell said.

Channelnewsasia.com

Channelnewsasia.com

MediaCorp did not confirm the website merger discussions, saying the company does not comment on rumours.

One consideration for combining the websites is how to do so without losing traffic or social media followers, Mumbrella understands from company sources.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore has 728,000 Facebook fans, a further 140,000 for its regional version and 370,000 Twitter followers. TODAY has 237,000 Facebook fans and 251,000 Twitter followers.

A tech expert at Sapient Nitro, Rajiv Balaji, told Mumbrella that while it would be easy enough to migrate content from one site to another, harmonising the look of the sites – which are both very different – tagging stories, and enabling the information to be searchable would prove more difficult.

What a new, unified site would look like is another factor. When they launched, TODAY and Channel NewsAsia did so with different intentions. CNA was targeted at a more upmarket, international audience, Today as a counter-balance to the dominant voice of the Straits Times in the domestic market.

But a merger of the sites “makes sense” as does combining two editorial teams into one, a media buyer told Mumbrella.

Nick Chhan, digital media director for Dentsu Singapore, commented: “Why have two editorial teams when there’s overlap in the content you’re producing?”

“Consolidating the two websites’ teams into one and creating a single site with richer content makes sense. And from the media buyer’s perspective, it means the site can be better packaged into an integrated news buy,” Chhan said.

Advertisers and readers tend to go to Channelnewsasia.com for video and todayonline.com for copy-based stories, Chhan noted.

MediaCorp attempted to bring its news gathering operations together in 2009, when it announced the launch of Asia’s first convergent newsroom. But though the news teams sit together, they continue to have separate reporting lines into MediaCorp’s editor-in-chief Walter Fernandez.

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