Ad dollar shift to digital and pandemic combo shuts The Edge Financial Daily after 13 years

The Edge Financial Daily (FD) is ceasing operations 13 years after it was first launched in 22 May 2007. Publisher and CEO Ho Kay Tat and editor-in-chief Azam Aris announced on The Edge Markets that FD is unable to survive the double onslaught of the shift to digital news and the current lockdown of the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a result, 21 April will be the last issue of FD, the announcement said. "But it will not be the last stories our journalists will write for you," it added. The announcement added that The Edge Weekly and The Edge Markets will continue providing readers with "major market-moving stories" on weekdays. FD was born during the global financial crisis that lasted from 2007 until 2009 and has published continuously ever since, except in July 2015. That month, FD along with The Edge Weekly were suspended by the home ministry for three months for its reporting of 1MDB. The company said back then that the home ministry's letter indicated that its reporting of 1MDB were "prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest".

Separately in 2019, Ho also addressed the dip in newspaper circulation and revenue. During the Malaysian Media Awards and Conference organised by the Media Specialists Association, Ho said that unless readers are willing to pay for newspapers without them being heavily subsidised, media companies will not be able to keep up with the duopoly and there might be “no money left to invest in journalism.

With the lack of subsidies and the unwillingness of consumers to pay for quality journalism, Ho said it “very likely” that news operations will be scaled down. He added:

My worry is that if there is not enough money for good journalism, which is important for society, and we cannot attract the right talent into the industry.

That said, he believes that newspapers will not disappear, but rather there will be fewer titles over the next few years. He explained that it is important for news companies to build trust and credibility among consumers, as well as boost the quality of their work. 

“I think journalists can only play a role in society if we build trust so that the public will support us, whether they are readers or advertisers. Also, we can only play that role if there’s enough money to fund us,” he said. Ho added: "Hopefully you will pay for a newspaper what you are willing to pay for a cup of Starbucks."

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