Outrage at The Star over R.AGE

As Star Media Group (SMG) announced the retrenchments of hundreds of staff, more senior staff have put in their resignation letters.

The low morale and general apathy have continued to be the push factors.

Award winning editor Ian Yee, who heads the international acclaimed youth platform, seems to have had enough.

It seems that Ian, who heads the R.AGE section, has faced quite a few head ons with SMG chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kiow.

Fu leads a three-men committee in the absence of a chief executive officer.  Andreas Vogiatzakis quit after just eight months as CEO in July, while Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai retired after six years as managing director/CEO. 

…. Wrestling with “advertiser” demands on sponsored content,…
my stand has always been “the buck stops with the media owner”…

Industry insiders all blame the discontent in SMG over the undue interference by Fu, who is a non executive board member.

While Ian has not put in his resignation letter yet, it set off alarm bells in the newsroom, according to Little Birds at SMG.

Little Birds can become Angry Birds very quickly.

Editors are already scrambling to convince him to stay. “He shared his frustrations with his team and colleagues.”

SMG insiders said the editors were expected to face resistance from Fu, who is said to be have been strongly critical and dismissive of R.AGE.

Apparently, he is adamant on shutting down R.AGE.

Ian’s resignation would be a huge loss to SMG as he is highly respectable across the region.

He met former US President Obama as a participant of the Obama Leadership Programme last year for his work and passion on advocacy journalism.

“We won’t be surprised if he is quickly hired by others who appreciate his work. The media industry finds it bizarre that anyone would want to shut down R.AGE,” said an analyst.

In 2016, R.AGE won the World Best Youth Newspaper from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

In 2018, it won the prestigious Kajai award.

In other news, SMG’s Senior GM Freddy Loo who heads the company’s analytics programme quit recently. He had been instrumental in planning the company’s digital plans.

SMG senior corporate communications GM Siti Hajar Abdul Rahman has also served notice that she is leaving.

“We are told R.AGE isn’t money making which is not true. What is factual is Dimsum isn’t making money.”

Mohamed Hassan Mohamad Ali, the Senior General Manager for Technical Services, has recently left the company.

They joined a growing list of long serving senior managers including those at C-suites level who have quit.

These resignations have taken place ahead of massive retrenchments which will see at least 300 staff being affected by Christmas.

An internal circular of the retrenchments were made to SMG staff on Tuesday.

It is understood journalists would made up the bulk of those who will be axed. There have been loud grumblings that this is taking place before the general election.

…. Dimsum, the video on demand section, has suffered losses of over RM100million but has over 70 staff…

One senior editor, speaking on anonymity, said the move would affect the quality of news gathering. He said it was strange that the newsroom needed to submit half of the names in the retrenched list when other non-profitable sections were spared.

“We are told R.AGE isn’t money making which is not true. What is factual is Dimsum isn’t making money.”

Dimsum, the video on demand section, has suffered losses of over RM100million but has over 70 staff. One editor said she feared that if Ian  resigns, the R.AGE team would also followed suit as the outrage over R.AGE explodes at SMG.

R.AGE has continued to be the preferred choice of most clients who prefer video and social media over print ads. R.AGE’s video with Ecoworld Development Bhd on Covid 19 survivors and the frontliners went viral and attracted over a million viewers.

This article first appeared in WEEKENDER.


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