The following are remarks made by co-founder and editor-in-chief Steven Gan at a recent Head of Department (HOD) meeting.
Malaysiakini turns 23 today. Who are we? What is it that we do?
In the two dozen years of Malaysiakini’s existence, these are questions I asked myself sometimes.
The answer is in our staff handbook - (1) to provide independent and balanced news to the public, (2) to set new standards in journalism, and (3) to support the development of freedom of speech, social justice and democracy in Malaysia.
I see our mission as much bigger than that, and it is this - to leave the world better than the one we inherited.
That is what we do. It is who we are. It is why we do what we do.
Last year, roughly 50 percent of our income came from subscriptions, 30 percent from network ads (ads that come to us through third parties such as Google and Facebook), and 20 percent from direct advertising (ads that come from local parties),
Yes, there are other incomes, but these three are our core incomes. What brings us these incomes is Malaysiakini - not only the brand but the words, images and videos we produce.
And what we produce is not just earning enough money to keep us going and growing, but helps to make this world a better place for our children, our grandchildren, and those who come after us.
That’s our mission. Let’s not lose sight of that.
Achieve the impossible
Those who have worked with me closely over the years will know my style of leadership. I am not a micro-manager. I pick good people and motivate them to do their best.
I lead by example and expect others to do the same. We treat one another with respect – that means valuing all our colleagues no matter who they are, from the cleaner to the CEO.
I encourage debate, discussion and criticism among ourselves (of course, in a civil manner). That’s because I believe that no one person knows everything. I don’t. Neither do you. I believe that if we work together, and pool our skills and knowledge, we can be the best of the best.
While it is true that an individual, working alone, can sometimes achieve the incredible; as a team, working together, we can achieve the impossible.
We don’t have to look elsewhere for inspiration for that. Look around you – the men and women who are your colleagues. They are our inspiration.
Integrity is fundamental
Legendary investor Warren Buffet once said:
“We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity.
“But if they don't have the latter (integrity), the first two will kill you.”
According to him, if you get someone who is intelligent and driven but with no integrity, that person can do a lot of damage to the organisation.
For Buffet, if you are going to get someone with no integrity, then you want them dumb and lazy so that they can do less damage.
And what is integrity?
It is about doing the right thing, no matter what the circumstances. It is about having a strong moral compass. It is about having sound ethical principles.
And if we can do that, we would have taken a significant step towards staying true to our mission – to play a part in making this world a better place.
This is what we do. It is who we are. It is why we do what we do. We are Malaysiakini. Do not forget that.
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