Splice News Trends: Press reform, exodus at WSJ and that monkey selfie

As a leading light of the commentariat in Asia, newsroom consultant and former alumnus of Yahoo, CNBC and Bloomberg, Alan Soon knows a thing or two about the media. Here is his roundup of developments inside the bubble this week


The Australian media industry is finally getting the shakeup it needs. The government passed a bill that scraps the “two-out-of-three” rule which bars companies from owning a TV station, newspaper and radio station in a single market. The bill also includes a 3-year innovation fund to support regional and small publishers. “I see this as a down payment for the future of journalism in this country.”

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has been behind the proposed media reforms bill, which has finally succeeded.

Robert Mueller, the U.S. special counsel investigating Russia’s part in the 2016 campaign, is reportedly focused on the role of Facebook and other social media during the election. Facebook said last week that it found a company in Russia spent $100,000 on ads during the campaign. However, it wouldn’t say how it uncovered that “for operational and security reasons.”

The Localisation Lab says it’s going to build Khmer versions of Signal, Tor and Psiphon given the Cambodian government’s crackdown on media. They’re looking for help.

What’s the future of media in Myanmar? Here’s a good backgrounder on the development of the industry in the country. “Two steps forward, one step back.”


A Yale University study shows that Facebook’s tagging of stories as “disputed by third party fact-checkers” don’t actually work. It found that these disputed tags only made a tiny difference — a mere 3.7 percentage points — in people’s ability to judge those stories as false.

Facebook took Instant Articles off its Messenger app. “We’re focusing our investment in Instant Articles in the Facebook core app.”

Google will stop its “first click free” policy that lets people bypass paywalls on news sites. Publishers have been complaining that the policy hurt their subscriptions. They also say they were penalised in search rankings if they didn’t join the program.

Google AdSense and brands are still helping fund extremist sites. “If brands want to control their ad placement, they cannot rely only on Google. They should additionally use a real-time dynamic blacklist of sites where they do not want their ads to appear.”

Media start-ups

New Naratif launched in Singapore. It’s a $52-a-year subscription service covering journalism, art and research in South East Asia. Brought to you by a fantastic team of writers, including Kirsten Han and Sonny Liew.

Jahabar Sadiq scuttled his previous news service Malaysian Insider last year when the government blocked it. He’s back with a new site — The Malaysian Insight. This is how he plans to grow it.

You may never have heard of White Merak in Myanmar. It’s a hot digital platform that helps cartoonists publish their work. And it’s valued at $600,000.

Credit: Splice Newsroom


Tencent and Alibaba agreed to share music rights in a move that could change the industry. Both companies stream most of their music for free, so this deal could pave the way for subscription-based services.

It’s worth checking out comScore’s new Global Mobile Report. I’ve never thought about it this way — Indonesia and India have emerged as predominantly mobile-only markets. Almost 70 per cent of their internet users are getting online just on their phones.


You can now connect Slack channels between two companies. It’s a helpful way for newsrooms to collaborate on projects. This is how the new Shared Channels feature works.


Our Better World is looking for someone to lead their in-house content team and manage their regional network of content creators. Singapore-based. Details here.


WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton is leaving the company to start a non-profit. You may recall that he sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 billion — so that’s a bit of change to go build something “focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications.”

…WhatsApp is testing an unsend feature. So if you sent something embarrassing, you can pull it — as long as it hasn’t been read.

A photographer finally settled a lawsuit with an Indonesian monkey. Naruto, who famously picked up a camera and selfied himself, won 25% of future royalties made from that photo.

Quote of the week

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” — Peter Drucker


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing