Malay Mail ceases print and goes into digital, employee cuts 'still being studied'

The Malay Mail is going fully digital and ceasing its print edition on 1 December this year. Its editor-in-chief Datuk Wong Sai Wan described the move to be "a change of business direction", adding that the company is "going into the full gamut of the digital business from content to marketing".

“The old way of doing the newspaper business of advertising subsidising the circulation, editorial and printing costs is no longer viable," he told employees during a town hall meeting. In a statement to A+M, he said venturing into the digital and multimedia business is "a completely new business" for the company. The Malay Mail intends to acquire new assets and form alliances to enable it to compete and trade with a higher readership.

"There will be no key personnel changes but there is a possibility of [adding] new specialised leaders, if and when required," Wong said, adding that there will also be no new designations assigned to employees following the end of its print edition.

"It's a sad day for me, personally, as a print newspaper man as I have been doing this since 1984. But I am also very excited for everyone as we embark into this new and uncharted territory," he said.

While there have been media reports about the company parting ways with approximately 50 out of its 165 employees, he told A+M that the issue is "still being studied" and the company will retrain some of its employees for the digital expansion. Meanwhile, some would be placed in associate companies. "It is a matter of cost and usability," he added.

Media companies have been struggling with the print business in the recent years. Star Media Group reported during the second quarter of its financial year that revenue for its print and digital segment dipped from RM204.5 million last year to RM178.5 million in Q2 2018. It also ended its printing operations in Penang this May as part of its ongoing cost rationalisation exercise.

Meanwhile, Media Prima announced last year that it stopped the circulation of New Straits TimesBerita Harian and Harian Metro in Sabah and Sarawak. This came after the group announced earlier last year that it was looking to grow its digital and non-traditional revenue streams through strategic business initiatives.