The Asia News Network (ANN), an alliance of Asian newspapers, has launched a site that offers news from its members along with market reports, currency information, and weather (http://www.asianewsnet.net). With the motto "We Know Asia Better," the site aims to provide an Asian perspective on the region's news. The resource launched with 11 newspapers and quickly added three more. ANN claims that its total daily circulation is more than 12 million copies and its combined readership is 50 million.
ANN's members include The Daily Star (Bangladesh), China Daily, The Statesman (India), The Jakarta Post (Indonesia), The Daily Yomiuri (Japan), Sin Chew Daily (from Malaysia, in Chinese), The Star (Malaysia), The Dawn (Pakistan), The Philippine Daily Inquirer, The Korea Herald, The Straits Times (Singapore), The Island (Sri Lanka), The Nation (Thailand), and Viet Nam News.
According to information on the site, the networking of Asian newspapers was initially discussed by editors who participated in the first Asian-German Editors Forum, which was organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. In March 1999 the editors established ANN as a cooperative network to improve coverage of Asian affairs and enable the free exchange of content among the papers. The new site showcases their cooperation.
According to a report in The Star, Felix Soh, deputy editor of The Straits Times and chairman of the executive board of ANN, said: "The full potential of such an extensive network is waiting to be tapped. And we will tap it further as we actively explore other forms of cooperation beyond news exchanges."
Sheri Lanza, of Global InfoResources, Inc. and the author of International Business Information on the Web, was not terribly impressed with the new site. "While there were some ‘hard' news stories, many of the stories were more appropriate to a tabloid than to a legitimate newspaper…. [The stories were] dealing with corruption, sensationalism, sex, bribery, peeping toms, and house husbands. The Market Indicators were 4 days old and the Currency Rates about a week old." Basically she recommends the site be used in conjunction with other information resources. She also cautioned readers who are looking for the promised "true Asian perspective" to be aware of possible cultural and government-influenced bias in the participating newspapers.
Alkman Granitsas, a reporter for The Asian Wall Street Journal, said, "Some of the newspapers, such as The Straits Times and Beijing's China Daily, have close ties to their governments, and their editorial policies often hew closely to a government line."
Two sites recommended by Lanza for good news resources are AsiaSource (http://www.asiasource.org), and Asia Pacific Management Forum (http://www.apmforum.com).
I was quite impressed with AsiaSource, which was developed by the Asia Society "to meet the need for timely, reliable, unbiased information and assistance regarding the cultural, economic, social, historical, and political dimensions of Asia." The Asia Society, based in New York, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that provides a forum for building awareness of the more than 30 countries broadly defined as the Asia-Pacific region. AsiaSource presents a collection of the latest news from a diverse range of sources. The site also provides a Regional News Sources section with links to English-language resources from around the world, such as news agencies, newspapers by country (including some of the ANN papers), and economic and business journals.
While ANN might be a bit tabloid-oriented and rough around the edges at this point, it does provide a window on the editorial preferences of some key reporting outlets in Asia. You can also use it as a handy link to the Web sites of its participating publications.