Chosen Newspaper Sources - The Asia-Pacific Perceptions Project

Newspapers Selected for Analysis in Australia

Newspaper Owner Reach Daily Circulation (2003)
Herald-Sun News Limited Victoria (Melbourne) 547,902
Sydney Morning Herald Fairfax New South Wales (Sydney) 223,277
The Australian News Limited National 133,000
Australian Financial Review Fairfax National 87,500
Canberra Times Independent ACT (Canberra) 39,189

Two national papers, The Australian and the Australian Financial Review, represent both of Australia's two major newspaper empires, News Limited and Fairfax respectively.

The Australian is a quality broadsheet that was founded almost forty years ago on the idea that "the impartial information and independent thinking.are essential to the further advance of our country."1 Despite this commitment to impartiality and independence, The Australian has demonstrated a discernible political orientation - one that has changed (quite dramatically at times) under various political leaderships. Today, it presents reputable, though generally conservative news reportage and is typically considered to be Australia's highest quality newspaper by media elites.2 It is published Monday through Friday with the Weekend Australian coming out on Saturday and is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited.

The Australian Financial Review was launched as a weekly publication in 1951 and became a daily in 1963 in order to better cater for the ever-more hungry business market. It fills a niche in the print media market, explicitly targeting the business, finance and technology sectors. It is the leading publication of its kind.

The Sydney Morning Herald is tabloid-style paper included in the survey on account of its great popularity and broad demographic appeal. It is considered to be the most important daily newspaper of Australia's largest (though not capital) city, Sydney.3 Australia's most enduring newspaper, it dates back to 1831 when it was first launched as a weekly. It was purchased by John Fairfax in 1941. Since 1840 is has been published daily and has a broadsheet format. According to its advertising website page, the Sydney Morning Herald is 'Tomorrow's Newspaper', and claims to be "Australia's most prestigious newspaper, reaching discerning and involved readers who trust its independence, authority and integrity."4 Its readers "are active, heterogeneous, multicultural, traveled, sophisticated, and make up the coveted AB demographic." This reputation has been recognized and is supported by the four coveted Walkley awards the paper received in 2003 and its steadily increasing circulation.5

The Melbourne-based Herald-Sun is consistently the highest circulated and read paper in Australia and was thus selected for the purposes of the project. In 1990, the morning daily, the Sun News-Pictorial and the afternoon daily, The Herald merged to form Melbourne's popular tabloid-style newspaper, the Herald-Sun. Owned by News Limited, the Herald-Sun has the highest circulation of any Australian newspaper, and reaches a broad demographic cross-section of the population.6 It tends to be more sensationalist, anti-Labor, and politically right-wing than either of the two national papers or the Fairfax capital city broadsheets.

The Canberra Times is a highly regarded, independent city paper included in the sample so that the nation's capital opinion is accounted for. It is owned by Kerry Stokes, however, its purchase was made possible only with financial assistance from Murdoch's News Limited in return for a option to have an interest in paper.7 The now-lapsed option has not, however, undermined its independent status.

Newspapers Selected for Analysis in Thailand

Newspaper Owner Reach Daily Circulation (2004)
Thai-Rath Watcharapol Company Limited National 1,000,000
Matichon Matichon Public Company Limited National 600,000
The Manager The Manager Media Group Public Company Limited National 280,000
Bangkok Post The Post Publishing Public Company Limited National / in English 80,000
The Nation The Nation Multimedia Group Public Company Limited National / in English 50,000

Thai Rath is the best selling newspaper in Thailand with a daily circulation of 1,000,000 copies and a claimed readership of 25,000,000, which is 40% of the total population of Thailand. Thai Rath is largely characterised as a tabloid-type newspaper with brash headlines accompanied by gruesome photographs of crime and accident victims alongside pictures of TV stars and politicians. The staff, however, are a mixture of tabloid journalists who are pre-occupied with crimes, sex and scandals and well-educated writers with liberal political views who possess excellent contacts with academics and social activists Thai Rath, then, should be regarded as a market-oriented newspaper with a socially engaged quality rather than simply a British-style tabloid. The newspaper is very influential in leading public opinions. The newspaper owner's close connection with the political tier has made Thai Rath so powerful that it is sometimes referred to as a 'second government'.8

Matichon, founded in 1978, regards itself as a quality leading political newspaper with a central-left view, though its coverage has now broadened to encompass more economic and business news as well as crime stories and soft news. Matichon targets more serious readers and has a circulation of 600,000 copies daily, the highest number among quality newspapers. Its online version is mildly popular, currently ranking at no. 10.9

The Manager can be regarded as a newcomer to the printing business. Phujatkan or Manager, a business magazine, was founded in early 1980s by Sondhi Limthongkul. Manager Daily is an unusual combination of a business newspaper and a partisan political one, which, to a certain extent, reflects the changes in Thai society in the 1990s. The new, younger, urban generations seek greater control of information from the state-oriented society and look for a mixture of business information and sophisticated commentary on politics and society. Manager is regarded as a quality newspaper with a rather progressive and academic style of writing. It has a circulation of 280,000 copies daily, making it the second most popular quality newspaper. Its website, however, is the most popular news website and is one of the three most popular Thai website.10 The fact that Manager readers are well-educated middle class, intellectuals and academia, may contribute to the popularity of the website of the newspaper, since it is those people who are frequent internet users.

Bangkok Post and The Nation, the only two English-language newspapers, are arch-rivals in the circulation battle. Bangkok Post has gained the upper hand with the daily circulation of 80,000 copies whereas The Nation has the circulation of 50,000 daily. To a certain degree, the two newspapers are very much alike. Both newspapers compete for the same target groups: foreigners in Thailand and elite and educated locals. Both newspapers employ the same sources of international news, i.e. the wire services of Reuters, Associated Press (AP), Agence France Presse (AFP) and United Press International (UPI), hence the contents of their international news are rather similar. Both have substantially more international news than typical Thai-language newspapers. Nevertheless, international news are hardly featured on the front page unless in the case of extraordinary events. The front page and the first five pages usually cover domestic and regional news. Both newspapers employ local staff to report and make comments of domestic and Southeast Asian affairs. The news content of both papers is widely regarded as objective, responsible and reliable. They also report considerably more on the neighbouring countries of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar than the international media in general. In addition, both papers report extensively about European and American sports and have extensive business and feature sections. Nevertheless, there are still certain differences between the two newspapers. Established in 1946, Bangkok Post, arguably, has a long-established reputation of a better editorial quality, contributing to the fact that in the past, editors of the Bangkok Post were native-speakers, particularly British. At present, however, editors are local. In its editorials, The Nation, however, is probably more critical and arguably more nationalistic than Bangkok Post. The newspaper was founded in 1971 by a group of journalists led by Suthichai Yoon with the aspiration of offering an international standard of journalism. The newspaper has been consistent in advocating a democratic political order, publishing critical commentary whenever a military coup happens in Thailand.

Newspapers Selected for Analysis in Korea

Newspaper Owner Reach Daily Circulation (2004)
Donga Ilbo Donga Corporation National 2,068,647
Joongang Daily Joongang Corporation National 2,076,958
The Chosun Ilbo Digital Chosun Corporation National 2,320,191
Korea Times The Hankook Ilbo International / in English 2,000,000
Metro Metro Seoul Holdings Inc. City (Seoul) 530,000

The privately-owned, quality newspaper, Donga, is one of the world's ten biggest dailies by circulation -- 2 million copies, 98 per cent of them subscriptions. The Dong-A Daily in Seoul is a family-owned, quality newspaper which maintains around 1,500 domestic plus 20 foreign editorial offices.11 The Dong-A Ilbo newspaper covers major events in South Korea and around the world, with sections on global news and local news, business news and political news, South Korea cultural life and newspaper classified ads. Dong-A Ilbo is one of the leading newspaper titles in the South Korea.12

Korea's other largest newspapers included in the sample are Joongang Daily and The Chosun Ilbo. Joongang Daily is Korea's leading daily newspaper, providing authoritative news coverage, in-depth reports and analysis of domestic and foreign events to an impressive circulation of 2,076,958. The Chosun Ilbo is one of the leading newspapers in South Korea, with a circulation of 2,220,000 copies daily. It is generally considered to represent the conservative element of South Korean society.13

An international English speaking newspaper, The Korea Times, is the oldest independent and most influential English-language daily in Korea. It is published by one of the largest-circulation newspaper companies in Korea, the Hankook Ilbo (The Korea Daily). It brings foreign and business news for the Korean, foreign businessmen, diplomats, and tourists. Currently, the newspaper circulates in more than 160 countries. It is well known for it constructive, well-balanced coverage ranging from socio-politics and economics, to culture and sports.14

Metro International, founded in Sweden, is the world's largest chain of free newspapers, publishing and distributing (mostly in the subway) 25 editions in 54 major cities from 16 countries in 15 languages across Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Seoul's Metro is among them. Metro has a unique global reach - attracting a young, active, well-educated audience. 530,000 copies of the two Metro editions attract 1.2 million daily readers, making it the fourth most read newspaper in the country.15

Newspapers Selected for Analysis in New Zealand

Newspaper Owner Reach Daily Circulation (2004)16
New Zealand Herald Wilson and Horton / APN Auckland 211,000
Waikato Times INL/Fairfax Hamilton 41,000
The Dominion Post INL/Fairfax Wellington 99,000
The Press INL/Fairfax Christchurch 92,000
Otago Daily Times Allied Press Dunedin 45,000

NZ selection provides a sample based foremost on the regional criterion. The five largest cities of NZ - Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, and Dunedin - are represented in the sample. Each of the five city newspapers selected are popular in the regions around the cities, thus the print sample covers the whole country. Most of the New Zealand Herald's sales are in the top half of the North Island, with its circulation area running just south of Taupo.17 Just over half of New Zealand's population of 4.1 million lives in this area. The Waikato Times is distributed in the middle section of the North Island, the Waikato Region. The Dominion Post, a capital-based newspaper, caters to the Wellington region and Central New Zealand. The Press is distributed throughout Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast. The Otago Daily Times circulates in the Otago region, which is near the bottom of the South Island.

The New Zealand Herald has the largest circulation in New Zealand. The Herald has been controlled first by Tony O'Reilly's Irish Independent Newspapers, and then by its APN subsidiary. Although some cost-cutting at the highly unionised The Herald has taken place, maintaining and improving editorial quality has been a high priority. Popular in Auckland and the Auckland region, The Herald is also widely available in Wellington, which is New Zealand's capital, where it is popular with politicians and key decision-makers.

Waikato Times, The Dominion Post and The Press belong to the Fairfax Corporation. Fairfax acquired its New Zealand operations on 1 July 2003, when it bought out Independent Newspapers Limited (INL). INL's main shareholder had been Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and it was primarily focused on serving regional newspaper markets in the lower North Island and in large parts of the South Island.18 In recent years Fairfax has become known for a high emphasis on cost-cutting, reducing editorial staff, and focusing on local news.19

The Dominion Post is the product of a merger between the Wellington paper, The Evening Post, and the Central New Zealand daily authority newspaper, The Dominion, in July 2002. The Dominion Post provides thorough coverage of local and international news, as well as special features that inform, educate and entertain its readers.20

The Press daily newspaper has the largest circulation and most comprehensive coverage of news and advertising in the South Island of New Zealand. It has been in operation for more than 140 years. The Press is a six-day a week, colour broadsheet paper which provides local, regional, national, and international news. It also caters to special interest groups such as farmers and business people, and every publishing day provides pages of features covering diverse subjects.21

The Waikato Times is the third largest daily newspaper in the North Island, and is the most popular and most widely read newspaper in the region. Distributed mostly in the Waikato region, it keeps its readers informed on the latest international, national and regional news events six days a week.22

The Otago Daily Times is owned by Allied Press, which is controlled by local New Zealand shareholders23 and is published in the university city of Dunedin, where education and learning have been a priority since European settlement. Following a different agenda to the Fairfax newspapers, which stress the local orientation of the news, the ODT has a more cosmopolitan outlook.

References

1 Chris Mitchell, 'A Word From our Editor-in-Chief', http://newsmedianet.com.au/home/titles/title/index.jsp?titleid=5; accessed 16/05/04.

2 This is based on a survey of journalists' perception of the quality of the major newspapers. Journalists, according to the author of this survey, "have a particular insight into questions of quality" as insiders and participants in the field (p. 13). John Henningham, 'Journalists' Perception of Newspaper Quality', Australian Journalism Review, Vol. 18, No. 1, December 1996, pp. 13-19.

3 See, John Henningham, 'Journalists' Perception of Bias', Australian Journalism Review, Vol. 17, No. 2, 1995, p. 3.

4 Farifax Advertising Centre, http://adcentre.fairfax.com.au/smh/default.htm, accessed 04/03/04.

5 Ibid.

6 Victoria University, Asia-Pacific Media Directory, http://www.business.vu.edu.au/bho2250/TV/television.htm#Australia, accessed 4/03/2004.

7 John Henningham, 'Media', in Henningham (ed.), Institutions in Australian Society, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995, p. 274.

8 McCargo, Duncan, Politics and the Press in Thailand: Media Machinations, (Bangkok: Routhledge), 2000, p.2

9 http://truehits.net/ (updated on September 2004)

10 http://truehits.net/ (updated on September 2004)

11 http://www.kba-print.de/en/news/zeitungsdruck2/2003-02-25-00.html

12 http://www.newspapercatalog.com/newspapers/dong-a+ilbo.htm

13 http://chosun-ilbo.wikiverse.org/

14 http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/fmwebpages/kt.asp

15 http://mtroa.client.shareholder.com/downloads/040708MetroSKorea_shareholding.pdf

16 www.abc.org.nz/audit/press.html (accessed August 2004)

17 http://www.nzherald.co.nz/subscriptions/

18 http://www.stuff.co.nz/nz_newspapers.html

19 Drinnan, John, 'Sundays, Bloody Sundays: Sunday Newspapers Prepare for War', National Business Review, August 6 2004, p. 22.

20 http://www.fairfaxnz.co.nz/publications/general/info92.html

21 http://www.fairfaxnz.co.nz/publications/general/info42.html

22 http://www.fairfaxnz.co.nz/publications/general/info89.html

23 http://www.alliedpress.co.nz/

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