Malaysiakini, an online news platform operating in a country of continuous and pervasive media controls, has taken advantage of a precarious space allowing comparatively free journalism on the Internet. In Malaysia, it has successfully increased demand for reliable and independent news, along with support for human rights, open government, and free expression. And it has built a viable business model that enables it to employ about 40 reporters, publish in four languages, and expand into video products and business news. These parallel successes, in a flawed media environment, are the upshot of courageous, pragmatic and innovative founders and well-conceived support from the international media development community.
Outside Malaysia, Malaysiakini’s ability to establish a credible and sustainable independent news operation online suggests there are opportunities for online journalism in dozens of countries that restrict and control traditional media activities, but allow somewhat more liberal policies to govern the Internet.