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Premesh Chandran, 40, is a human rights activist and a writer who co-founded Malaysiakini.com, in 1999. Now the leading online publication in Malaysia, the site reaches over 300,000 readers per day in four languages (English, Malay, Chinese, Tamil). Chandran is also the founder of Malaysiakini’s non-profit training organization, the Southeast Asian Centre for E-media.
How exactly do you plan to change the world?
Well, currently we are just focused on changing Malaysia. Using the Internet, Malaysiakini has succeeded in giving Malaysians independent news. Since launching in 1999, Malaysiakini has broken the barriers of government controlled media, contributing to reforms and electoral gains towards a two-party system. In 2008, for the first time, the opposition parties won 5 out of 13 states, and dramatically reduced the ruling party’s majority in Parliament.
For the world, it confirms the impact of the Internet in opening up democratic space. Malaysiakini is also one of the few profitable online media organizations. We charge a subscription fee of US$40, and combined with advertising, we have been profitable since 2004. It demonstrates that when journalism changes people’s lives, when people feel the impact of journalism in improving their lives, then enough people will contribute funds in terms of donations and subscriptions to fund media, a critical question being asked among media organizations today.
How are we changing the world? Well, we hope to be an example of a media organization that creates an impact and is profitable!
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