‘Newspaper is the root of all news’
The UB Post sat down with E.Dolgion, the President of the Association of Daily Newspapers (ADN) and CEO of the National News Corporation LLC, to deliberate over the status of newspapers in Mongolia and the first Daily Newspapers Forum to take place on Thursday.
Nearly a year has passed since you were appointed as the president of ADN. The general image of an organization changes with a new head. What have you accomplished so far? What’s the objective of the association?
The association aims to improve the public access to information. We aspire to fill the blanks in society.
To be honest, there are misconceptions about the newspaper industry being on the verge of a collapse and newspapers being dull compared to websites that are considered more exciting and interesting.
Newspapers aren’t boring. They might appear to be boring, but it has always been the most trending item. Some people said that technological advancement is ousting the newspaper industry. Nowadays, every newspaper has a website and is using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Based on this, I think that the newspaper industry can benefit more by embracing the technological sector and taking advantage of its advancements.
Information-based society and knowledge-based society are two different things. Websites, televisions, newspapers and other media outlets all distribute information, but newspaper delivers it to the intellectuals. As philosophers and researchers have identified, a knowledgeable society ultimately prevails.
From my observations, the key media organizations that establish a knowledge-based society and civilized society seems to have been temporarily abandoned, especially in the early 21st century, due to the market transition and other factors. Only now, we’re starting to pay attention to the development in this area.
Lately, ADN has been focusing on improving our relations and cooperation with global organizations. I’m planning to attend forums and meetings for international daily newspaper associations later this year and next year.
Our vision is to take the Mongolian media to global heights. Right now, it is far from being at global level so we will try to get there step by step.
How can daily newspapers improve their distribution of information to the public?
Newspapers are doing an exceptional job at giving information but not the same for knowledge distribution. They need to focus on giving more knowledge to the public.
Do you think daily newspapers are capable of surviving on their own?
To be frank, daily newspapers have a very low chance of survival on their own. This is based on changes happening not only in Mongolia but all over the world. Small newspaper companies need to get into a general unified formation/ organization so that they can mutually support one another and cover each other’s shortcomings. Looking at this, the best option for such companies is to work together under a single formation. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that newspapers can’t survive on their own. I guess time will let us know.
…Every daily newspaper operating in Mongolia will participate in Mongolia’s first Daily Newspapers Forum, which will take place on September 21. The main goal of the forum is to establish a general understanding through a declaration…
Some people criticize that the quality of Mongolian newspapers has degraded. Do you agree with this? If so, why has the quality dropped?
There are so many top class newspapers around the globe. Their contents and writing styles are incredible. However, we can’t adopt the exact same style in Mongolia because, to put it bluntly, there are so many things that don’t suit our news styles. Newspaper companies shouldn’t be blamed for the depreciation of newspaper quality. In a way, it was due to excessive political influence. From another point, more economical perspective, it was due to the loss of balance in the market.
If the news style used in New York is the same as the style used in London, then Mongolia should also follow the same style. Mongolia hasn’t been able to do so because the society has been transitioning to a capitalist society for the last 20 years. The public is trying to satisfy their basic survival needs, such food, clothes, and shelter, and putting everything else as
If the news style used in New York is the same as the style used in London, then Mongolia should also follow the same style. Mongolia hasn’t been able to do so because the society has been transitioning to a capitalist society for the last 20 years. The public is trying to satisfy their basic survival needs, such food, clothes, and shelter, and putting everything else as second priority. In western countries, people have already satisfied their basic needs so they’re “recharging” their brains by reading newspapers.
Most importantly, the media needs to fend off political influence. The media sector in Mongolia has always been connected to politicians in some way. People are always debating whether the government is a good manager or not. If the government really is a good manager, why are state-owned companies facing a deficit of some 11 trillion MNT? Simply put, the media needs to stay away from political influence as much as possible. That way, it can fulfill its role as the fourth state and develop according to market needs and global trends.
ADN is organizing a forum tomorrow. What’s the significance of this event?
Every daily newspaper operating in Mongolia will participate in Mongolia’s first Daily Newspapers Forum, which will take place on September 21. The main goal of the forum is to establish a general understanding through a declaration.
A group of people will not be able to reach a general understanding even if they talk about it for several hours unless their opinions are merged and written on paper. So by signing a declaration, daily newspaper companies will be able to eliminate their differences in understanding. The forum will contribute in increasing newspaper subscriptions and raising awareness about the importance of newspapers in society.
Unless we directly tell the public that the things they see on Facebook feed are all rooted from articles in newspapers, they don’t know it. If we look at revenue reports, newspapers are slightly behind in terms of revenue compared to websites.
This is mainly because websites are able to reach more people at a much faster rate. A newspaper company might distribute 10,000 copies a day, but if I tweet it, it will reach the 35,000 followers I have. Based on figures alone, tweeting is three times more efficient than publishing. But in reality, it’s very different.
New contents are created and edited in pressrooms. It’s then broadcast by televisions and social media. So basically, the content we see on Facebook and Twitter were originally published in newspapers. Imagine how boring the social media would have been if newspapers didn’t exist. I hope that everyone understands that newspapers are the very first product and the most important medium of the media.
Can you tell us what topics the panel discussions at the forum will cover?
There will be two panel discussions. The first will discuss the current situation of daily newspapers, and the second will talk about future trends of daily newspapers, potential challenges, and people’s focus of interest.
What do you suggest we do to advance the newspaper industry?
It’s very simple, everyone needs to subscribe to a newspaper. I make my subordinates buy newspapers. Our company doesn’t give out copies of our newspapers, or other newspapers, to employees. They have to buy it for themselves. This way, they will understand the value of newspapers and learn to appreciate it more.
So media representatives will discuss and evaluate the daily newspaper situation in Mongolia at the forum. But do you think they will be able to reach a conclusion and start taking robust action afterward?
This is an ongoing process. We will have to address and identify the issues at hand and discuss it (before taking action). My biggest hope for the forum is that people will have a higher appreciation for newspapers, newspapers’ status will broaden and that subscriptions will increase.
In my opinion, we should increase the price of newspaper to raise their value.
Do you really think it is right to increase the price of newspapers in our current economic state?
There’s a gap between the prices of newspapers and other things such as food. For example, a burger costs 6,500 MNT to 14,000 MNT, but a newspaper costs 500 MNT.
In 1996, newspapers used to have the same price as a loaf of bread. At the time, people used to value intellectual products as much as food. Now, grocery staples cost higher – maybe because of demand. Overall, the value and price of newspapers need to be raised. A newspaper should be worth more than a loaf of bread.
What’s stopping media companies from increasing newspaper prices?
We just need to kick out politicians from the media sector. Too many politicians are involved in the media sector. Newspapers represent the public opinion and voice their concern. Without it, the public will lose their voice. So as long as there are ordinary people, newspapers will continue to exist. Even so, the public needs to support newspapers by making subscriptions.
Any final comments?
Journalists are more faithful to their jobs than monks. Journalists need to have pride in their work and value their own work.