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Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Nation Gives Out its Poison for Free Now

Freesheet 'Xpress' aims to be No1 Thai English daily


The Nation


The new compact-sized XPRESS will immediately become the country's largest English language daily newspaper when it debuts in March as a freesheet, Thanachai Theerapatvong, chairman of publisher Nation Multimedia Group Plc, said yesterday.

"The existing two English newspapers, after several decades in the market, can't reach a circulation of 100,000 copies," Thanachai told a press conference at the Conrad Hotel.


Maybe that has something to do with putting out crappy products.

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Leading newspaper designer Mario Garcia took aim at readers aged 25-35 with a friendly and attractive format featuring big, lavish pictures, striking headlines and concise news stories. The 48-page daily will feature content that appeals to the new generation.


"We want all readers to finish reading the newspaper in around 20 minutes," said XPRESS editor Tulsathit Taptim.


Readers can spend only a few seconds glancing at the headlines and photos to get the story idea, he said.


Garcia said the orange masthead reflects the colour of young readers.


"The colour represents warm, colourful and young people," he said.


I think it is hilarious that The Nation has to give away the paper now.

This is its new unbelievable marketing strategy: Make the articles shorter, dumber and more attractive, as if the readers were looking for a new girlfriend instead of a newspaper.

Here is marketing strategy for The Nation's publishers that I will give to them for free.

1. Fire the editors. They are worthless and incompetent. Send Suthichai, Tulsie, Thepchai, Thanong, Kavi and Sopon out to pasture.

2. Get rid of any peripheral business unrelated to producing news. Stick to improving two newspapers: The Nation and Kom Chad Luek.

3. Hire new professional staff that has been educated abroad and understands the meaning of a free press. Don't be like Suthichai and Tulsie, who hire recent graduates who know nothing about government and politics and pay them slave wages.

For the English paper, hire staff that can read, write and speak English fluently. For the Thai newspaper, make sure they are literate.

4. Hire professional competent sub-editors and pay them well.

5. Do some investigative news reporting.

6. Have a strong business section.

7. Have a strong IT section like the Bangkok Post.

8. Diversify the opinion page

9. Stop being a whore to the military. 9b. Stop being a whore to the bureaucracy.

10. Put together a website that doesn't look like it was done by a Downs Syndrome victim.

11. If you didn't get it the first time, fire Suthichai Yoon. If he goes, the rest of the incompetents will follow.



7 comments:

Andrew said...

Since I came to Bangkok 18 months ago I have been saying the city is perfect for a free newspaper. Sure, the standards have to be good but if you look at the Metro brand around the world it's doing pretty well. I don't think there's anything wrong with the marketing plan - if I were in charge I would have gone down this route a few years ago. I think their target of 100,000 is on the high side - I would have said 20,000-30,000 would be nearer the mark but let's see what happens in March. I get the feeling there might be something very similar coming from The Bangkok Post.

Andrew said...

And ... because they'll get zero revenue from copy sales you can be sure they'll try to cut production costs (meaning editorial) to the minimum. Everything has to be advetising-driven because without that it will not work.
Believe it or not there are not that many good Thai journalists with good English skills. I spent 8 months earlier this year recruting and I know just how hard it is. And as you know it's not that easy to just go out and recruit from overseas. As I said though it should be interesting.

fall said...

May be they get the idea from those ads/newspaper issued for free on BTS, or girl Cosmo and Cleo magazine for that matter.

We dont want no inform readers, we want readers who attracted by flashy picture and sensational headline. If this is their idea of new generation. I guess new generation is overrated.

Look on the bright side, Tulsie is gone to be their editor. No more those crappy Democracy vs. Corruption propaganda.

Thai Observer said...

The Nation business model is very odd. I have an acquaintance in Thailand who wen to the Nation with a 6-month budget of 250,000 for a small venture he had started. To judge from his account, he was completely fucked around by the staff (whom he described as being completely and pathetically stupid), and ended up complaining to the VP Advertising (an American). My acquaintance was told by the American VP, that the Nation didn't want his business if he was going to complain about the staff. So he spent it with the Bangkok Post.

The Nation is in financial trouble isn't it? One wonders why.

Fonzi said...

Andrew-

Isn't Metro a weekly? I think a weekly(unaffiliated with The Nation) would do well, but The Nation wants a daily free newspaper to compete with its own? Seriously, I think it is a dumb idea.

You are the expert, but I can't think of a large metro market where a major media group puts out a paid daily and a free daily simultaneously with the same content.

I would have no faith in the sales department at The Nation to simultaneously manage the business for both endeavors.

I have heard similar stories about The Nation as Thai Observer.

On the other hand, I reckon that The Nation wouldn't have created the freebie unless they had sold the ad space already.

Andrew said...

Metro is daily (Mon-Fri) and has an audited circulation of something like half a million copies in London. It's also rolled out other editions around the world using the same business models.
Actually, having a paid-for and a free from the same publisher is pretty common in the UK. The London Evening Standard has its paid-for edition and also Standard Lite which is aimed at commuters. Both work well.
You can be sure The Nation will have dummy tested this idea with its advertisers, but one thing to bear in mind is the hefty costs to distribute within the MRT and BTS system. Right outside is free but inside is another thing altogether.
I agree having a free and a paid-for doesn't appear to be sound thinking, and it will be interesting to see if they plan on keeping The Nation alive once XPress takes off. My feeling is The Nation will still be around and aim at the high end of society wheras XPress is likely to be far more mass market.

Biff said...

Friend Fonzi.

I think, sadly, that a big free paper full of advertising and easy-to-read stories of no substance will turn things around in Nationtown. I agree with Andrew on that one.

As for your call to recruit new journalists etc. Where from? You're not in America anymore -- or the UK, or whatever Western country gave you these high ideas of journalism... There is no credible journalism in this country. Bangkok Post or Nation... there just isn't., and there never has been, so why belabor the point?

One thing though: I would like to see you actually producing some of your own content, rather than cutting and pasting articles from the two newspapers with your little cutting remarks in red. The formula is wearing a bit thin from where I sit.