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OFF THE PRESS: Survey Report on How Newsrooms Cover ASEAN-related Issues

Click here to download the full report in PDF or email us at reportingasean@gmail.com.

From the Editor’s Desk (from the report’s introduction):

In putting shape to a media skills-building project of good use for journalists from ASEAN countries, we needed to, well, start from the start. That is what the Reporting ASEAN program sought to do in this qualitative survey called ‘How Do Newsrooms Handle Coverage of ASEAN-related Issues? Views from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Vietnam’.

The information and insights that Reporting ASEAN’s questionnaire gathered from 24 editors from 22 media houses in CLMV offer a peek into the news media’s editorial investment in following ASEAN-related issues.

How Do Newsrooms Cover ASEAN

Survey report discusses how ASEAN is viewed as a media topic.

Nearly five years since the ASEAN Community was launched at the end of 2015, it is a good time to look at how deeply the region’s
own media follow ASEAN-related news. This is particularly so in the case of the four newer member countries of CLMV, which have now been part of Southeast Asia’s key regional grouping for some two decades.

The results of this survey have helped Reporting ASEAN shape the activities and knowledge outputs of the CLMV Integration Series, which it implemented in 2018-19. This series zeroes in on perspectives from these four countries as they deepen integration into the ASEAN Community.

The gems in this in formation-gathering exercise lie in the editors’ evaluations of how familiar their organizations and journalists are with ASEAN issues, what news priority they give to ASEAN- related coverage, their own assessments of the strengths, weaknesses and needs of their journalists, as well as what they identify as the toughest reporting challenges in covering ASEAN’s role, relevance and impact.

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The editors’ insights were substantial inputs in Reporting ASEAN’s workshop for the participating journalists in the CLMV Integration Series (held in Bangkok in April 2019) and in the reporting tool that it produced (‘Reportage around ASEAN Issues: A News Tipsheet’).

The survey results and editors’ reflections provide a glimpse of newsroom realities that is indispensable in the creation of credible spaces for independent, critical and interesting storytelling around ASEAN issues.

‘How Do Newsrooms Handle Coverage of ASEAN-related Issues? Views from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam’ is the third knowledge output of the Reporting ASEAN program.

The first was a content analysis study of how 19 local- and English-language newspapers in 10 ASEAN countries covered ASEAN. It comprises a chapter in the book ‘Reporting Development in ASEAN’ (2012). The second was the set of responses that emerged from the consultations that Reporting ASEAN held in 2016 with reporters and editors in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. These brought out challenges they face in understanding ASEAN, and the types of training and exposure they said they needed in order to report more critically on regional issues.

This newsroom survey for editors brings us a step further in looking within media to better understand where ASEAN issues are in the particular contexts of CLMV, in the world of news as well as in media training circles.

While from a modest number of respondents, the survey results and reflections provide a glimpse of newsroom realities that is indispensable in the creation of credible spaces for independent, critical and interesting storytelling around ASEAN issues. At a time when regional news is also fast becoming local, journalists are finding that being able to put on a regional storytelling lens is a value-added skill in today’s quick-fix media environment.

What does this report tell us in terms of training work in regional reporting for CLMV and ASEAN countries? The idea of going local in training in professional media skills points toward the direction of developing practical, hands-on programs that come with actual reportage – in effect, starting from local settings in order to grow a regional perspective.

Finally, ‘How Do Newsrooms Handle Coverage of ASEAN-related Issues?’ offers valuable perspectives for news managers, media trainers and teachers, foreign policy analysts and scholars, as well as ASEAN itself, around the reporting skills and habits, and media mindsets and structures in the ASEAN region.

Johanna Son

Editor and Founder, Reporting ASEAN

Bangkok, Thailand

@reportingasean

*This publication is an output of the 2018-19 CLMV Integration Series of the Reporting ASEAN program. It was supported by the Lower Mekong Initiative and the Heinrich Boell Foundation Southeast Asia. Reporting ASEAN is hosted by Probe Media Foundation Inc.  This report was written by Anisa Widyasari and edited by Johanna Son.

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