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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.

Opinion / What made the story of the Thai Cave Boys so special?

By: Matt Blomberg - Posted on: August 6, 2018 | Best of 2018

The world was transfixed by the story of a football team stuck in a cave in northern Thailand as reporters from all over the planet filed updates to a hungry public – but what about news of other horrors in forgotten places?

Volunteers make offerings to a deity during a Buddhist ceremony to cleans the Tham Luang caves of bad karma Photo: Matt Blomberg

If you were stationed at the Tham Luang caves in the far north of Thailand for a week, as I was, you’d have thought the operation to rescue 12 boys and a football coach trapped underground for more than two weeks was the only thing that mattered in the world.

Inundated caves. Jagged rock. Monsoon rains. Emaciated children. Race against time. Eyes of the world. Fate of the boys. Death-defying mission. Precarious escape. Helicopter evacuation. Elon Musk. Buddhist monks. Cave boys. Manchester United. World Cup seats. Navy Seal dies. Prime minister visits. Heroes – many, many heroes, plus a new tourist attraction.

It was a whirlwind of well-worn words and phrases as hundreds of reporters tussled for something unique that might impress their overlords – editors sitting at desks far away.

For plenty, truth and sensitivity went out the window, casualties of the chase. Rumours almost evolved into facts, then melted back into nothingness as the next big “could be” came along.

When a helicopter buzzed over the media pit late on Day 2 of the rescue, reporters scrambled. “Fifth boy free!” they cried. Cameras fired up, presenters wiped their brows, tweeters tweeted and old-fashioned hacks, myself included, began filling in details on story templates they’d prepared.

The appearance of a helicopter on Day 1 meant a boy had been spirited to safety. So today’s helicopter meant that too, right? But what if this helicopter was on a different mission? What if a rescue diver had died?

A Royal Thai police ambulance rushes one of the trapped boys to hospital after he was rescued from the Tham Luang cave Photo: Pongmanat Tasiri / EPA-EFE

Two days after the emaciated boys emerged, a friend messaged asking where I was. When I told him I was still in Mae Sai, he responded with typical cheek, but only half kidding: “They are all out now. You lot can go home.”

When I finally made it back to Phnom Penh, I climbed the stairs to an old haunt where I knew I’d find a familiar face – someone to ground me after a week on a story high. When I told an old friend where I’d just come from (the most important place in the world), he, too, was unimpressed.

“Oh, that. Jesus, is it over? It’s been driving me mad for weeks. Every time I turn on the television or look at a newspaper…” His words trailed off, his eyes red with World Cup all-nighters that might’ve been as much to blame for his mood as the endless saga of the Cave Boys. “They’re all out safe days ago, right? How much more detail do we need?”

I had already written a couple of stories about the ethics of staking out a hospital, of haranguing desperate families and of distracting divers as the rescue mission balanced on a knife’s edge.

But this weary friend’s dressing down took my mind to another questionable element of the coverage given to the Cave Boys: the cost. Not just the financial cost, but the opportunity-cost, as well.

Media as a business is old news, sure. But being inside the machine reporting what might turn out to be the biggest news story of the year spoke to that idea like never before

How many stories had gone untold as the world’s media gathered in Mae Sai and stood side-by-side getting spoon-fed the same quotes, the same information, at the same press conferences, where they’d all capture almost identical photos and video?

Why is round-the-clock coverage of the rescue so important – especially when experts have already revealed a four-hour window when the boys are likely to emerge? And why does every outlet have to be on the story?

I can only guess that, like just about everything in our world, the answer is money.

Streaming and piracy have stolen the market for human eyes and brains seeking to be entertained by a screen, and events like the Tham Luang cave rescue give television networks a chance to win back some of their lost pie.

Building the suspense with ongoing coverage is vital to keeping the viewer – and thereby advertisers – engaged.

So TV bosses spent small fortunes to fly in production teams and their gear from around the world. They rented hotel rooms, vans, drivers, local producers, fixers, translators, security. When fatigue became an issue, they flew in a new team to rotate the first one out.

The outlay for some would run easily into the tens of thousands. But they couldn’t miss the story.

Members of the Wild Boar football team as they pray during a religious ceremony before leaving for their Buddhist monkhood at Wat Phra That Doi Wao temple in Mae Sai district Photo: Chiang Rai Public Relations Office / EPA-EFE

For newspapers, putting a reporter at the scene is an investment in legitimacy, allowing stories to start with the dateline – “Mae Sai, THAILAND” – which would in theory lead to more people paying to read.

And for online-only outlets, a reporter on the scene equals a live blog, which equals clicks and hits that translate directly into advertising dollars.

It’s all a bit cart before horse.

Media as a business is old news, sure. But being inside the machine reporting what might, if you subtract Trump, turn out to be the biggest news story of the year spoke to that idea like never before.

The world hung on the fate of 13 young souls for three weeks. But during that same time, how many boys drowned in the Mediterranean, were killed in Yemen or starved to death in South Sudan? Where was the wall-to-wall coverage on those stories? What made the story of the Cave Boys so special?

I suppose it all comes down to dollars. Reporters chase stories for editors who chase dollars for their bosses. Those other stories of other horrors from around the world have largely run their course for now, at least until events there strike a new level of horror. Then the world might be ready to tune back in.

Matt Blomberg is a freelance journalist based in Cambodia.

This article was published in the August 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. For full access, subscribe here.