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Malaysia's oldest newspaper ceases print publication to go fully digital from December

The Mail, which began operations on December 14, 1896, is the oldest tabloid newspaper in Malaysia.

The Malay Mail has announced it will cease its print newspaper in Malaysia and go fully digital from December 1.

The Mail, which began operations on December 14, 1896, is the oldest tabloid newspaper in Malaysia. Ownership of the newspaper has changed hands many times over the years and is now owned by Redberry Sdn Bhd.

According to Redberry chief operating officer and The Mail editor-in-chief Datuk Wong Sai Wan, the shift to digital will see the company cut 55 staff from its 165-strong workforce, who will then be given one week to decide whether they want to leave or stay on and retrain for new roles within the organisation.

Wong told staff in a town-hall meeting that "the old way of doing the newspaper business, of advertising subsidising the circulation, editorial and printing costs, is no longer viable", according to The Mail. Its print sales have also been decreasing, from 60,000 a decade ago, to 10,000 daily.

While The Mail follows the likes of Singapore’s Today newspaper to go fully online, the former head of digital at its rival The Star, Serm Teck Choon, noted that even though the Internet has created new ways to deliver content to audiences, regardless of the channel, the core is still the good content.

“A good example is the recent series released by Netflix, “The Haunting of the Hill House”. It’s a fantastic show regardless whether it’s showed by any traditional TV channel or Netflix,” said Serm, now the head of product and country head for Malaysia at CtrlShift, in a post on Facebook.

Apart from producing great content, Serm, who is also the president of the Malaysian Digital Association, advised media owners to embrace and leverage the nature of new media to distribute their content.

“Break the rules of delivering content, such as how your audience can choose to finish a series over a weekend or listen to a podcast for e-learning while driving,” he wrote.

“Technologies change the way we live. Look and observe what consumers/customers/users want. Use your product as a customer and solve the pain points identified. This is the only way to survive.”

Publishers in Malaysia have increasingly faced advertising challenges mentioned by Wong, which has led The Star, MCIL, Utusan Malaysia, Kosmo, China Press, Guang Ming Online, Nanyang, Malaysiakini, and The Edge to band together to form The Malaysia Premium Publishers Marketplace (MPPM), a programmatic advertising marketplace platform. The Mail is not a part of the MPPM.

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