New Naratif : new member-based Singaporean media on Southeast Asia

« This Singapore-based startup tests Southeast Asia’s appetite for a member-funded journalism service » by Junita Ong, 03/10/2017, NiemanLab (Harvard)

Most of Southeast Asia’s legacy media are family businesses or for-profit entities controlled by conglomerates. But New Naratif, a new regional startup, is now testing the market for a paid membership approach to journalism via crowdfunding. Borrowing heavily from the ethos of De Correspondent, the Dutch news site that raised $1.7 million from 20,000 subscribers back in 2013, New Naratif aims to build a community of readers across the region. Members can access the site’s Southeast Asia-focused longform journalism, news, and comic art and offer feedback on the editorial process.

Those readers will also fund all of the site’s operations — the project will be ad-free and the team has pledged to keep them abreast of how their money is spent. Annual memberships start at US$52, and since its Sept. 9 crowdfunding launch in Singapore, New Naratif has netted just under 200 members. (It’s aiming for 3,500 by early 2018 in order to begin operations.) The site’s name includes the Bahasa Indonesian spelling of the word “narrative” and is a nod towards their ambitions to capture the sizable Malay- and Indonesian-speaking populations of the region.

This email interview with two of its founders, Oxford university academic Thum Ping Tjin (who is also known as PJ) and Kirsten Han, a journalist and activist, has been edited for length and clarity.

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