The Globe as you know it is changing.
Coming June 2019

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To understand more about why you are so important to our member-supported initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Shanghai on show: Shanghai World Expo 2010

By: Matteo Damiani - Posted on: October 3, 2010 | Society
A view of the main 2010 World Expo site under construction in Shanghai, China on 13 July 2009.
A view of the main 2010 World Expo site under construction in Shanghai, China on 13 July 2009. Photo: EPA/QILAI SHEN

Despite the stunning architecture, Critics argue the Shanghai World Expo 2010 has failed to deliver a better city or a better life.

The Shanghai World Expo 2010 has been talked up as the best World Expo ever by the one-party state, who regard the $50 billion event as a statement of status in world affairs.

Yet, since its meticulously executed opening ceremony in April, the six-month international trade showcase of technology and ideas has been shrouded by a cloud of criticism – largely ignored by corporate media owners – over management and government restrictions of press freedom, which echo the information clampdown before the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

In the lead up to the expo, the government instructed Chinese media not to engage in independent reporting and ordered website editors to block mention of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan solidarity campaigns organised in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake that left 100,000 Tibetans homeless.

The Ministry of Truth also told the media to follow official reports on the plagiarism scandal that marred the opening ceremony. The official anthem, Right Here Waiting for You 2010, sung by many famous Chinese stars such as Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Li Bingbing and Liu Xiang was allegedly plagiarised from the 1997 Japanese Sonomama no Kimi de Ite, While those in China remain muted on the subject, internet sites across the globe have been buzzing over the embarrassing scandal.

While it is readily noted by observers that World Expos have lost some of their luster in recent years, the Shanghai exposition is a key event for China’s country branding and reputation building. Possibly even a platform from which to demonstrate its soft power.

But visitor numbers are significantly below expectations. The Chinese government has invested tens of billions preparing its largest city for the predicted 70 million visitors, mainly from China. But high entrance prices to pavilions, long queues and the economic crisis have had an impact on numbers. As a consequence, China risks missing out on the prestigious ranking within the top ten world expositions. The list is currently topped by the 1970 Osaka expo in Japan, which attracted 64 million visitors. For China to achieve its visitor target, it needs 380,000 people to visit each day. So far, however, the highest number of visitors in any one day has been about 215,000 according to the organiser’s official website.

In the opening week, visitors also complained of the absence of affordable food and wet, slippery pavements after rainfalls left 500 people needing medical attention. Organisers of the event, which spans an area the size of 1,000 football fields, said they responded to criticism by providing cheaper food and installing more rubbish bins, umbrellas for shade and benches. But they had difficulty censoring the thousands of forums openly criticising the event.

The official theme of the exposition, Better City, Better Life, has given rise to various interpretations – as is expected with an expo that includes 189 nations and numerous international organisations – and criticism.

Given this year’s theme of modernity and sustainability, many pavilions have used recyclable and high-tech materials, like the biodegradable solar cell soybean-fiber netting around the Swiss pavilion. Or Italy’s use of a translucent cement – a recently created multifaceted material that generates a twofold architectural effect that can help save energy. The British pavilion looks like a box with thousands of spines, which can swing in the breeze and hover without visible support above a public square.

However, organisers have failed to ensure all countries adopt the sustainable theme. Countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam instead have taken advantage of the opportunity to promote themselves as a tourist destination – missing the point of the exposition completely. With no trace of modern, environmentally-friendly or sustainable architecture in sight, their pavilions are replicas of traditional buildings that house historical relics, traditional art and food. Their exhibitions, rather predictably, make continuous reference to their respective countries’ diversity, history, traditional architecture and biodiversity.

Additionally, international media have taken fault with the theme itself as well as its goal to promote sustainable urban development practices. The New York Times wrote: “The event champions priorities that hardly seem to square with spending hundreds of millions of dollars constructing buildings designed to last six months.”

Even though Shanghai has spent roughly the same on the expo as Beijing spent on the Olympics, the sporting event managed to improve the city’s infrastructure. In contrast, organisers of the expo plan to remove or demolish the 200 pavilions at the end of October – no doubt adding further cost to the event and burden to the city’s landfills.

While any large international event is likely to garner harsh criticism, let’s hope the next expo in South Korea will at least live up to its motto.