'I am optimistic that we can succeed': Khaw Boon Wan on SPH transformation

Former SPH Editor-in-Chief Patrick Daniel will serve as interim CEO.

Tanya Ong | Jane Zhang | May 12, 2021, 02:45 PM

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Former Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has come out of retirement to serve as the new chairman of the board of Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) not-for-profit media entity, SPH Media Trust.

Patrick Daniel as interim CEO

In a speech on May 12 regarding transforming SPH Media for the digital era, Khaw announced that Patrick Daniel, former Editor-in-Chief and Deputy CEO of SPH, will run the SPH Media Trust as its interim CEO.

All 2,500 media and media-related staff of SPH will also move over to SPH Media Trust.

Khaw also said that the nine Management Shareholders of SPH have agreed to be the founding members of the CLG. The CLG will later be expanded to include other established companies, especially those in the digital economy. Together, they will be the trustees of SPH Media Trust.

The cut-over date is planned for Sep. 1 this year, at the earliest, he added.

Adapting to the digital revolution

In his speech, which outlined the challenges that SPH Media is facing, Khaw said that he is optimistic that they will succeed.

He said that while SPH Media is not new to going digital, they will need to step up more decisively, seeing as how the digital revolution has severely disrupted the media industry worldwide.

Current newsrooms need to be transformed further for the digital era.

Specific to the challenges facing SPH Media, Khaw raised the following concerns:

  • How to enhance their current digital products?
  • How to grow readership, especially among the young?
  • How to grow digital revenue to counter the decline in print revenue?

Good quality content is no longer sufficient, he said. He explained that it is now imperative to tap on digital technology, connect meaningfully with the audience, and customise content to suit their lifestyle and convenience.

He said,

"As a British media company puts it: we have been 'a print media company with digital products'; we must now decisively become a digital company with print products."

Building capacity

Khaw also announced some plans that they have to train the next generation of journalists and provide them with fulfilling careers.

From next year, they will step up the award of SPH Scholarships. This will not just include journalism, but also digital disciplines.

They will also arrange internships for local undergraduates to expose them to a career in journalism and digital media.

For serving journalists, Khaw said that they will arrange fellowships and attachments in world-class newsrooms for global networking and possible cross-border collaboration.

Top photo by Rachel Ng, Google Maps.