Representative of 15 media outlets in Asia emphasised the need for elevating cooperation to a new level and making Asia’s voice heard, as they gathered at the Asia News Network (ANN) annual board meeting in Beijing on September 4.

The meeting marks the first in-person assembly of the leading regional news alliance in Asia since the Covid-19 pandemic, building new bridges for collaborative efforts among Asian countries and between Asia and the rest of the world. Also in attendance was Ly Tayseng, the publisher of The Phnom Penh Post.

Representatives explored the possibility of establishing an independent newsroom with reputed professionals to make ANN an independent news source for all its members and for regional and global media in general.

ANN, which has become a formal legal entity, was established in 1999 with members hailing from the 20 Southeast Asian countries and several other locations in Asia. China Daily has been its member since 2000.

Qu Yingpu, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily, said in his welcoming remarks that the purpose of the meeting is to deepen ANN cooperation, enhance ANN story exchanges, jointly produce impactful videos, and organise enriching workshops and forums. “These initiatives not only strengthen our ties but also amplify our voices to resonate across Asia, and even globally,” he noted.

He highlighted common challenges faced by the media in Asia. “We face the daunting task of not just reporting the news, but interpreting it in a way that is relevant, respectful, and resonates with our diverse audiences. But the challenges also push us to innovate, adapt and grow,” he emphasised.

Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of Bangladesh’s The Daily Star, echoed the sentiment.

“We need to understand and know each other better in our own region, and in particular, to mutually share our problems and opportunities. We must also tell the world the creativity and innovation, and most importantly our collective intellectual and cultural heritage that exists in Asia,” he said .

Anam, who is also the incumbent chairman of ANN, highlighted that with Asia being a very important player in the international sphere, Asian media must use the opportunity of the alliance of the leading 22 English dailies to tell Asian story to the world.

In its last edition of Asia-Pacific regional economic outlook, released in May, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expected Asia to contribute nearly 70% of global growth in 2023, and the growth in the region is projected to accelerate to 4.6% this year from 3.8% last year. In particular, China and India together are forecast to generate about half of global growth this year.

The challenge of the moment is to turn this network into an efficient and independent news service for its members and the broader Asian market, he said. He urged all participating members to make ANN a more effective network of media collaboration.

As to how to enrich ANN content, Zaffar Abbas, editor of Dawn Media Group of Pakistan, suggests the ANN platform should offer a broader range of opinions, editorials, exclusive features, and human-interest stories, with the news taking a secondary role.

He noted that international readers are interested in features and opinions from Asian countries, which ANN excel at producing. To draw an audience beyond its member regions, Abbas believes that ANN should create original content free from biases.

In addition, ANN delegates also attended a captivating cultural heritage exhibition hosted at the China Daily headquarters office in Beijing. The event featured mesmerising tea art performances on-site, exquisite crafts from various ethnic minorities, as well as tea and coffee from Pu’er, in Yunnan, the birthplace of one of the world’s most renowned fermented Pu’er tea.

They will participate in the Forum on Cultural Heritage Conservation and make field visits to local businesses in the following two days.

Chai Hua/China Daily/Asia News Network