For several years now, I have been subscribing to both the Bangkok Post and The Nation. These are the main English language dailies in Thailand. They are not exactly the same and they each have their own good attributes. I couldn’t really make up my mind which one to keep, so I decided to just keep both. Then in March the situation was shaken up with the launch of the free daily tabloid called Daily Xpress. This is part of the Nation Multimedia Group – an organization that I have a lot of respect for. Basically, what happened is that The Nation went from a general newspaper to a business daily. Overnight the old newspaper had died. It was a bold move. The Daily Xpress is distributed for free throughout Bangkok. It was also inserted for free into subscription copies of The Nation.
When this first happened, I wasn’t too sure if I was that happy. After all, it is like paying for a year’s supply of apples and then suddenly being sent oranges instead. I only have a passing interest in business news. What we had in the old newspaper was good enough for me. I didn’t need to see all the press releases and attached photos from companies launching new products. I also wasn’t happy, that although I had paid for The Nation to be delivered seven days a week, I was now only receiving from Monday to Saturday. The only consolation was the “free” Daily Xpress which came seven days a week.
It was a bit weak to start with as it struggled to find a direction. But, I think after a few weeks it actually became quite good. None of the content was repeated in The Nation which was great as it felt like I had two newspapers for the price of one. In addition, it covered the kind of local news that I had never seen before in the English dailies. We still didn’t get the sensationalized pictures like you get in the Thai Rath, but we got a lot of crime stories that were actually sometimes quite good. Well, it was different to the norm and so therefore felt good. There was also expat news and local travel news.
About two months ago my subscription to the Bangkok Post was up for renewal. As it was now becoming difficult to read three newspapers in one day I decided to drop the Bangkok Post and keep with The Nation and the Daily Xpress. So, it looked like The Nation had won the battle of the dailes. But, not quite. Almost straight away the quality of the two newspapers started to go down hill. Regular columns and features were dropped or just didn’t appear so often. People like the popular cartoonist Stephff disappeared. We started hearing rumours that staff were being dropped or were being asked for drops in pay. The Daily Xpress went from more than 48 pages to only 28 pages in last Friday’s edition. Worse than that, we have started to get repeats of not only stories but also pictures that had already appeared in The Nation.
Then came the news this weekend that the Daily Xpress will no longer appear on Saturday and Sunday. This is obviously the start of the end. I am predicting now that the Daily Xpress will not see the year out. And without this free insert inside The Nation, I predict that newspaper will probably disappear in due course. Everyone is abandoning ship. Tomorrow I am going to ring the subscription office to see if I can get my money back. I am not hopeful that they will do this, but I think the law is on my side. After all, this is not the same newspaper that I subscribed to last year. I didn’t subscribe to a business daily.
So, who won the English daily newspaper war? Well, from my opinion it is the Bangkok Post as I will now open a new subscription to their newspaper. I am sorry I ever dropped it. I miss the daily supplements and their long features about Thailand. No-one can do it like the Bangkok Post. And as far as The Nation is concerned, I am sorry to say it is now R.I.P.
UPDATE: Today I rang The Nation to see if I could get a refund on my subscription to their newspaper. My argument is that I didn’t subscribe to a business daily but that is now what they are delivering me. Not surprisingly, their answer was a big “no”. They weren’t even sympathetic. I guess they are desperate for the money. So looks like I will have to put up with The Nation for the time being. Unfortunately, my subscription doesn’t run out until December 2008. Will they last that long?