Keeping in tune with the times

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MALAY MAIL’s move to go fully digital was inevitable and one artist who can understand and relate to this move is none other than rapper Joe Flizzow.

He grew up in a house with parents working in media.

His father Ishak Nengah was a television personality while his mother Aishah Ali was a Sunday Mail – Malay Mail’s Sunday edition – editor.

Joe, whose real name is Johan Ishak, 39, related the move to how the music industry has evolved over the years, stating that no one took his words seriously in the early 2000s when he told them discs and cassettes would be a thing of the past.

“No one could grasp the idea when I told them it (albums through cassettes and discs) would come to an end.

“It’s the same thing for Malay Mail I guess, but really nothing beats reading a good book or newspaper… holding it in your hands,” he explained.

Unlike others, he knew how the media industry worked from a very young age; he was in the New Straits Times’ young journalist programme called the Writers Bloc and got his first byline when he was only 16.

He practically grew up in Balai Berita during most of his teenage years.

“Not many know but I was a reporter back in NST for a short time. It was through this programme that I got a better understanding of the media world, how to write a story, give a press conference and what are the ways to attract the media as an artist,” he explained.

Local hip-hop garnered a very niche number of fans during its early days but through Too Phat and Joe, it progressively rose to where it is today.

When he was making his way to the top, it was hard to get exposure and having a newspaper editor mum did not make it any easier.

“My mum was an editor and that made it harder for me. I remember a few entertainment reporters told me that Malay Mail won’t carry my story because it did not have enough credit.

“To me it really didn’t matter but when I did get coverage, it was when my album received positive reviews.

“Online presence was lacking back then, but today it is the way forward. Congratulations to Malay Mail, I guess its an end of an era with a hope of a new start,” the KL-born artist said.

The Kartel Records founder said readers must embrace technology and it is all about being at the top of your game.

“We must embrace technology because if you don’t, you’re going to be on the back foot. I could be 100 years old, but if I’m hungry I could succeed, rather than a 50-year-old who’s great but cannot accept change.”

Inaugural Malaysian Idol winner Jaclyn Victor said that Malay Mail has continuously supported her from her pre-Malaysian Idol days to the present.

“I’ve done a lot of interviews with the publication and in fact it was Errol de Cruz was the first to give me some coverage while I was still performing in the pubs.

“He used to watch my band JJEDS every week and fell in love with our style and wanted to know more about how we formed the outfit,” the 39-year-old said.

She added that she has always been a fan of the print and admitted the announcement was sad news to her.

“It’s quite sad that we’ve now turned into a society who looks at other means to get news updates, but I believe Malay Mail going fully digital is the way forward. It is the right move during this era,” she said.

Jaclyn said it is important to make a change when necessary and that was how she allowed her brand to bloom into what it is today.

“If something is no longer of use, we have to find another initiative. I’ve been interviewed several times by the lifestyle reporters from Malay Mail and I guess now the copies will have a more sentimental value.

“I’d like to say thank you to the editors and reporters for every kind word that was said about me. And for keeping it going… 122 years is a long time to sustain.”

Echoing a same sentiment was singer, actress and master of ceremonies
Adibah Noor.

“Thank you to everyone at Malay Mail for everything that you have done, especially to the entertainment team who has done their part to support the music and entertainment industry,” the 48-year-old said.

Adibah rose to fame in a similar fashion as Jaclyn, winning a nationwide talent contest called Nescafe Suara 90an in 1994.

The Kuala Lumpur-born talent was an English teacher but wanted to expand her work scope, eventually leaving the industry to work as a copywriter and translator, something she said she could relate to Malay Mail’s move to go fully digital.

“I’m still the old school type who prefers to read a newspaper. It is rather sad that all these will be obsolete one day.

“But we have to move with the tide, if not we lose out and become extinct,” she said.

Malay Mail played a part in her rise from the mid 90s to the early 2000s, but as Adibah puts in she never chased fame.

Simply allowing the reporters to discover her and think whether she was worth a story or not.

“I never sat down and thought to myself whether I was ever good enough for a story. If I had wanted to always appear in the papers, I would have gone hobnobbing with reporters.

“Thankfully the reporters at Malay Mail always felt I was worth a story. When Jad Mahidin interviewed me about being in Chang & Eng the musical, it was like catching up between two friends because she was my school mate.

“Besides her, Joe Lee and Che’ Az always kept in touch with me and we’ve become closer friends now.”

Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza also shared a similar opinion, saying she looked on the positive side whether a story in Malay Mail was to highlight an achievement or to criticise her.

“My career begun in 1996 and the publication has always given me a platform to share my story. As an artist, every comment and criticism to me is normal and I will never deny it.

“If a comment is aimed at me to explore my talent, I will take it as advice and will strive to give my best,” the 39-year-old said.

Siti Nurhaliza said that the paper has played an important role in the entertainment industry and believes that the paper will succeed even more when it goes fully digital.

“Just like the other newspapers, Malay Mail has always played an important role in the industry and especially my career.”