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Tuesday
Jun052018

Mongolia Prepares for a Magazine Explosion | 1998

Publication: UB Post

Date: 08/09/1998

Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) - Mongolian newsstands are bursting at the seams. But while the content of the country's publications is varied, their form is not. Newsprint rules this country's publishing industry. The few glossy magazines for sale are imports from Russia.

When the democratic revolution unleashed the tide of free expression in the early 1990s, a flood of newspapers poured forth. It made sense. The cheap-and-cheerful technology of newsprint is low-tech, accessible and inexpensive. Suddenly everyone could be a publisher. 

But Mongolia's increasingly sophisticated media landscape is about to go "glossy". Tomorrow (September 9) sees the launch of Ger (Home), Mongolia's first on-line magazine. A bilingual quarterly funded by the United Nations, it combines entertainment - articles on the changing sexual attitudes of young Mongolians and the country's vibrant pop scene - with information on the work of the UN and other NGOs in Mongolia.

"We want something that will tell the stories of Mongolians and their experiences over the last eight years - both to Mongolians and to the rest of the world," says David South, communications coordinator at the United Nations Development Programme.

This month also brings the premiere issue of Tusgal (Strike), billed as the first full-colour, general-interest magazine in the new Mongolia. Published by Mongol News Company - the privately owned media group whose stable of publications includes the daily newspaper Onoodor and The UB Post - it offers a lively mix of sport, culture and celebrity articles, also aimed primarily at the young.

These two publications are just the top of the stack. Mongolia's two best-known printing houses, Admon and Interpress, are said to be working on titles of their own.

Mongolia's quick-to-learn capitalists see a gap - and they want to fill it. 

"In Mongolia there are many newspapers, but no world-class magazines," says Tusgal's editor-in-chief, Do. Tsendjav. "On the streets you can see a lot of publications that aren't exactly magazines but you can't call newspapers, either - newspapers that appear every 10 days or two weeks.

"We want to fill this space. We want to produce the first colour magazine that will reach world standards, something close to Time or Newsweek." 

"There's an enormous thirst for quality journalism, quality publications that are interesting to look at, top photojournalism - all the things newspapers don't cover," adds South. 

"We've seen newspapers moving to more colour, more photographs, and that shows a desire for quality."

That quality comes at a price. Tusgal, with 70 colour pages, will sell for between Tg 1500 and Tg 2000 - not much cheaper than an American publication like Time, and too expensive for many Mongolians. 

With only 1000 Internet subscribers in Mongolia, Ger has an even smaller market within the country - though South is quick to point out, the UN has established public-access Internet centres in Ulaanbaatar and several aimags. 

And he says a print version is planned to follow. 

"Distribution is the big problem right now," he says. 

"We have to see how we can organize distribution to reach the whole country. I know more magazines will be launched soon in Mongolia, and hope a distribution network may grow out of that."

The editors know Mongolia's magazine market and magazine technology are in their infancy. Although companies like Admon and Interpress get more sophisticated equipment by the month, the capacity to produce quality publications is still limited - the first issue of Tusgal has been printed outside Mongolia. 

Human resources need to develop as well, Tsendjav admits. 

"To produce a monthly magazine you need highly qualified journalists. We don't have that right now. We're still seeking them out."

But he is confident this will change - and quickly, too, if the pace of development in the past eight years is anything to go by. 

"During socialism, Mongolia had many magazines, but it all stopped after 1990," notes Tsendjav. "It was a question of economics.

"At first we don't think we can earn money from this. If you want to make money you have to wait two or three years. So what we are aiming for at first is to build a readership.

"I think in two or three years, living standards will improve. People will have more money to spend on things like magazines. But we don't want to wait for people to get enough money. We want to be the first, so people will develop an interest.

"There will be competition. Nowadays a lot of business-people understand the importance of the media. I welcome competition. It'll make us work harder. It's good for everybody."

From In Their Own Words: Selected Writings by Journalists on Mongolia, 1997-1999

© David South Consulting 2018 

Saturday
Mar052016

UNDP Travelling Seminar: Environment and Development | Mongolia 1998

 

As head of communications for UNDP/UN Mongolia, I organised and led press tours across the country for international journalists in 1997 and 1998.

A book published by UNDP chronicled the press tour in 1998.

Sunday
Jan312016

Magazine Stories | Toronto 1992

 

By David South

Flare Magazine (Toronto, Canada) 1992

Time Machines

While many designers are telling us to don platform shoes and love beads, the man behind London-based Hi-Tek watches is looking even further back in time - drawing his inspiration from classic visions of the future.

Hi-Tek’s stainless steel timepieces bring to mind early futuristic films such as Lang’s Metropolis and Chaplin’s Modern Times with their grotesque exaggerations of modern machinery. That era’s confusion, fear, or simple wonderment at new technology influenced everything from toasters to steam trains.

For the equally economically and technologically turbulent ‘90s, Hi-Tek designer Alexander has captured this sense of techno-wonder with watches, sunglasses, and other hip accessories. One watch looks as if a Cuisinart hit it, leaving gears strewn across the face. Another has a retractable lid like an astronomer’s observatory. Yet another tells time with the blinker of a radar screen. Despite their made-exclusively-for-James-Bond appearance, all cost less than $190. Available at Possessions in Montreal, Body Body in Toronto, and D and R in Vancouver.


By David South

The Financial Post Magazine (Toronto, Canada), May 1992

Too Black

They’ve sold their hip clothing designs out of their basement and out of the back of their car. Now the young designers and marketers behind Toronto’s Too Black Guys can boast that their wares are being sold out of film-maker Spike Lee’s shop in Brooklyn, as well as five other funky U.S. stores from Washington to L.A.

Neither of the co-owners studied fashion - Adrian, 24, holds a BA in economics and Robert, 23, studied marketing at community college. Still, they have designed their own T-shirts, jeans, baseball caps and sweatshirts, and the message is at least as important as the medium.

“They forgot to ask my name and called me negro,” reads a typical shirt. Earl Smith, the manager at Lee’s Brooklyn shop, says he loves the clothes but adds that customers often ask his staff to explain what the thought-provoking garments mean.

Other stories from the 1990s:

An Abuse of Privilege?

Aid Organization Gives Overseas Hungry Diet Food

Artists Fear Indifference From Megacity

The Big Dump: CP's New Operational Plan Leaves Critics with Questions Aplenty

Casino Calamity: One Gambling Guru Thinks The Province Is Going Too Far

Counter Accusations Split Bathurst Quay Complex: Issues of Sexual Assault, Racism at Centre of Local Dispute

Do TV Porn Channels Degrade and Humiliate?

The Ethics of Soup: Grading Supermarket Shelves - For Profit

False Data Makes Border Screening Corruptible

Freaky - The 70s Meant Something

Health Care in Danger

Is the UK Rushing to Watch TV Porn? 

Lamas Against AIDS

Land of the Free, Home of the Bored

Man Out Of Time: The World Once Turned On the Ideas of this Guelph Grad, But Does the Economist John Kenneth Galbraith Know the Way Forward?

New Student Group Seeks 30 Percent Tuition Hike

Oasis Has Arrogance, A Pile of Attitude and the Best Album of 1994

Peaceniks Questioning Air-raid Strategy in Bosnia

Philippine Conference Tackles Asia's AIDS Crisis

Playboy ‘is not for sad and lonely single men’

Porn Again: More Ways to Get Off, But Should We Regulate the Sex Industry?

Safety at Stake

Somali Killings Reveal Ugly Side of Elite Regiment

Starting from Scratch: The Challenge of Transition

State of Decay: Haiti Turns to Free-market Economics and the UN to Save Itself

Study Says Jetliner Air Quality Poses Health Risks

Swing Shift: Sexual Liberation is Back in Style

Take Two Big Doses of Humanity and Call Me in the Morning

Taking Medicine to the People: Four Innovators In Community Health

Top Reporters Offer Military Media Handling Tips

Traffic Signs Bring Safety to the Streets

TV's Moral Guide in Question - Again

UK Laws on Satellite Porn Among Toughest in Europe

Undercurrents: A Cancellation at CBC TV Raises a Host of Issues for the Future

US Health Care Businesses Chasing Profits into Canada

Will the Megacity Mean Mega-privatization?

Will Niagara Falls Become the Northern Vegas?

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Thursday
Jul022015

Popular Chinese Social Media Chase New Markets

 

New UNOSSC banner Dev Cha 2013

China has a vast and growing market for the Internet and mobile devices. Over the past decade that market has been largely confined to China –  most businesses have had enough domestic demand and opportunities inside the country to keep them busy.

But now companies in China’s dynamic Internet and mobile sector are seeking out new markets outside the country. Both online shopping service Alibaba (alibaba.com) and Weibo (weibo.com), the Chinese version of Twitter (twitter.com), are seeking to list on the New York Stock Exchange. The excitement this news has generated shows how many people want to get a piece of the large Chinese market for technology, social networks and online shopping. It is also sending a chill through America’s Silicon Valley – home to the country’s innovative high technology sector – that they are missing out on China’s fast-growing marketplace. Many American services are banned from operating in China. Even more worrying for Silicon Valley, these home-grown Chinese companies, with the market sewn up at home, are now set to compete globally for customers using their increasingly deep pockets.

One example is Tencent (http://www.tencent.com/en-us/index.shtml), owner of popular Chinese social messaging application (app) Weixin (weixin.qq.com), known as WeChat (wechat.com) outside China. Used on mobile phones and smartphones, Weixin has gained 300 million users in just three years, becoming the dominant social messaging service in the world’s largest smartphone market. Its has been so successful that many rivals are trying to chip away at its customer base.

Weixin, pronounced way-shin, allows smartphone users to send messages and share news, photos, videos and web links with friends. One of its selling points is its claim to not store messages on its servers.

Building on its success in social networking in China, it is looking to expand in other markets, including Southeast Asia, Europe and Latin America. It also wants to grow its offerings in online payment and e-commerce.

One factor in Weixin’s success is the ability to send messages by recording a voice message rather than just typing in characters: very useful for non-Latin script users, and especially for Chinese-language users, who use thousands of characters in everyday communication.

One ambitious forecast claims Weixin could reach 400 million users and make US $500 million revenue within a year.

Cosmetics marketer Jenny Zhao, who uses an iPhone 5, told The New York Times: “I’m probably on Weixin six hours a day. A lot of what I do revolves around it.”

“I use Weixin every day,” said Zhang Shoufeng, a food and drinks seller. “My friends are on it and my boss is on it. We are talking about where to eat, where to hang out and where to meet for company conferences. This is how we communicate.”

Analysts believe Weixin has benefitted from not having to compete with banned-in-China American company Facebook (facebook.com).

“Even if Facebook had permission, it’s probably too late,” said Wang Xiaofeng, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Weixin has all the functionality of Facebook and Twitter, and Chinese have already gotten used to it.”

Tencent is an example of a wider trend: As Chinese companies and offerings have become stronger, wealthier and more innovative, they increasingly look to build their customer base outside China.

Founded in November, 1998, Tencent, Inc. has grown into China’s largest and most used Internet service portal. Its most popular services include QQ (QQ Instant Messenger), WeChat, QQ.com, QQ Games, Qzone, 3g.QQ.com, SoSo, PaiPai and Tenpay, as well as Weixin.

The company claims to put innovation at the heart of its business, with more than half of its employees devoted to research and development. The Tencent Research Institute, established in 2007 with RMB 100 million (US $16 million), calls itself “China’s first Internet research institute, with campuses in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.” It has patents for technologies it has developed for instant messaging, e-commerce, online payment services, search, information security, and gaming.

Tencent was driven to innovate by a fear it could quickly become irrelevant in the information technology space. Weixin is also pioneering ways to book taxis, hotels and airline flights through the service and even ways to control home appliances.

“Chinese Internet companies are no longer behind,” said William Bao Bean, a managing director at the venture capital firm SingTel Innov8 (http://innov8.singtel.com/). “Now in some areas, they’re leading the way.”

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: April 2014

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ohM9BQAAQBAJ&dq=development+challenges+april+2014&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challenges-published-april-2014

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

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Wednesday
Jun242015

Bolivia Grabs World Media Attention with Salt Hotel

 

 

Tourism is a great way to attract foreign currency to a country and build local economies, especially in remote or isolated places. But the catch is finding a way to get people to go the distance and come and visit and spend their money.

In a global South twist on the well-known Ice Hotel in Sweden (www.icehotel.com) – a hotel entirely built out of ice – enterprising Bolivians have built a hotel out of salt.

A Bolivian hotel in the middle of the world’s largest salt flats has found a clever way to attract tourists to this remote holiday destination: build the hotel entirely out of salt, right down to its furniture.

The South American nation is one of the poorest in Latin America, and its income distribution is among the region’s most unequal. Bringing in foreign currency and attracting more tourists can help to reduce this poverty. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism will contribute 2 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011. Around 75,000 jobs are directly dependent on the tourism business in the country and this is projected to rise to 96,000 jobs by 2021.

And it is a good business to be involved in: “Travel and tourism is one of the world’s great industries, providing 9 percent of global GDP and 260 million jobs; it drives economic growth, business relationships and social mobility,” according to David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The Hotel de Sal Cristal (http://www.hosteldesal.com/?L=2), near Colchani, hosts guests who come to visit the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salar_de_Uyuni). They are believed to store 50 to 70 percent of the world’s lithium supplies and an economic boom has started in the area. The striking and blinding white salt flats were featured in the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace.”

The hotel’s unique construction from rock-hard salt hewn from the salt flats is working to encourage tourists to stay longer in the area during their holiday. Before, they would just take a quick excursion on to the salt flats before moving on to their next destination.

The Hotel de Sal Cristal is built using blocks of salt cut from the surrounding flats. The architectural design is inspired by the ancient Chinese balancing philosophy of Feng Shui (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_shui). Following the principles of the philosophy, it faces the sun and balances both masculine and feminine energies. Shaped like three coca leaves, the feminine side, this balances with the more masculine side reflected in the salt flats, the hotel’s website claims.

The hotel has 27 rooms with hot water and heating. – and beds made of salt. In the dining room, people can sit on chairs made of salt and eat at salt tables. The rooms are wall-to-wall salt, bright and white.

The hotel’s pool is surrounded by sand-like salt.

The hotel’s ‘Resto-Bar’ offers views of the salt flats and promises it will “allow the cosmic energy…” to flow freely.

The menu offers llama meat and risotto of quinoa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa) alongside traditional Bolivian dishes, salads and soups and Bolivian-themed treats.

The hotel has an ‘astronomic observatory’ for star gazing, making the most of the low level of light pollution on the flats.

One of the hotel’s tour guides, Pedro Pablo Michel Rocha from Hidalgo Tours (http://www.salardeuyuni.net/), told the Daily Mail newspaper: “I love it when visitors come to this place for the first time.

“They can’t get over the fact that everything is made out of salt and I’ve even seen a few people lick the furniture to make sure!

“It is a wonderful experience to come somewhere like this where they’ve used the natural materials available to create something like a hotel.”

The salt flats, formed from prehistoric lakes, have a salt crust hard-baked by the sun with a pool of salty water underneath which is rich in the rare element lithium. Lithium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium) is sought-after for its use in things like re-chargeable batteries for mobile phones, computers and electric cars.

The area’s economy has boomed since 3.4 million tons of lithium – believed to be half the world’s supply – was discovered underneath the salt flats.

The power of tourism to alleviate poverty has been documented by Caroline Ashley, co-author of Tourism and Poverty Reduction: Pathways to Prosperity (http://www.earthscan.co.uk/?TabId=92842&v=497073), after extensive research on tourism’s impact on poverty in countries across Africa andAsia.

She argues that “tourism can fight poverty.”

“Note, we say ‘can’, not that it always does. The share of spending by tourists within a destination that reaches poor people can vary from less than 10 percent to a high of 30 percent,” Ashley told BusinessFightsPoverty (http://www.businessfightspoverty.org).

“When it works, international tourism is actually a very good way of channelling resources from rich to poor. In destinations as diverse as hiking on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, business tourism in Vietnam and cultural tourism in Ethiopia, between one quarter and one third of all in-country tourist spending accrues to poor households in and around the destination.”    

Ashley said a successful tourism strategy needs to focus on “the 4Ps: pay, procurement, persuasion and partnership.”

“Pay a living wage to local employees; take a hard look at procurement and potential to source locally … persuade – or at least inform – your clients how to take up opportunities to spend in the local economy…” and build a partnership with government to integrate tourism into the local economy.

And it looks like the hotel can’t get more connected to the local economy than being made of the very salt that surrounds it.

By David South, Development Challenges, South-South Solutions

Published: November 2011

Development Challenges, South-South Solutions was launched as an e-newsletter in 2006 by UNDP's South-South Cooperation Unit (now the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation) based in New York, USA. It led on profiling the rise of the global South as an economic powerhouse and was one of the first regular publications to champion the global South's innovators, entrepreneurs, and pioneers. It tracked the key trends that are now so profoundly reshaping how development is seen and done. This includes the rapid take-up of mobile phones and information technology in the global South (as profiled in the first issue of magazine Southern Innovator), the move to becoming a majority urban world, a growing global innovator culture, and the plethora of solutions being developed in the global South to tackle its problems and improve living conditions and boost human development. The success of the e-newsletter led to the launch of the magazine Southern Innovator.  

Follow @SouthSouth1

Google Books: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=rVEU1nWQ5IUC&dq=development+challenges+november+2011&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/DavidSouth1/development-challengessouthsouthsolutionsnovember2011issue

Southern Innovator Issue 1: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Q1O54YSE2BgC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 2: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Ty0N969dcssC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 3: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AQNt4YmhZagC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 4: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=9T_n2tA7l4EC&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Southern Innovator Issue 5: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=6ILdAgAAQBAJ&dq=southern+innovator&source=gbs_navlinks_s

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.