Finances

Since its inception, Malaysiakini has functioned as a social enterprise – a business which puts its mission to promote independent media first. It fervently believes that independent media cannot survive without independent financing. Its financial strategy aims to create profits to grow the organisation, instead of creating a return on investment for its shareholders.

For the five-year period of 2008-2012, Malaysiakini’s revenue totaled RM20.7 million, comprising subscription (40.6%), advertising (33.5%), project grants (18%), mobile services (3.4%) and other revenues (4.5%).

For the same period, expenditure totalled RM19.8 million being the editorial costs of (61.7%), administrative cost (16.4%), technology costs (8.5%), marketing (6.9%) and legal and other costs (6.5%).

The balance RM860,000 form retained earnings in the company, an average of RM172,000 per year.

Subscriptions have contributed more than advertising for every year up to 2010. From 2011, advertising income has surpassed subscription and is expected to contribute about 50% of total income with subscription contributing about 40% of income.

Some have suggested that Malaysiakini should go free and not charge a subscription fee. But advertising alone cannot fully fund Malaysiakini. Moreover, Malaysiakini would become more reliant on advertisers, and would find it significantly difficult to keep reporting independently, especially on issues that could affect its advertisers.

In the past, project grants have contributed towards side projects such as training of citizen journalists, hosting of the Asian New Media Forum, community portals such as Komunitikini.com, Feedgeorge.com, election information such as Undi.info and other products that are journalistic in nature, but not financially sustainable on its own.

Although Malaysiakini has been attacked for receiving funding from foreign donors, Malaysiakini believes that these projects serve the larger public good, and therefore can and should be funded through grants from foundations committed to freedom of expression and independent media.

In terms of expenditure, the bulk (62%) goes to editorial costs. Malaysiakini’s editorial team stands at 35, composing journalists and editors in the various language teams. Malaysiakini believes that a strong editorial team is a key ingredient of good journalism and will remain committed to investing the bulk of its expenditure into its editorial workforce.