A family’s promise and passion

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dfa20161011Times President and CEO Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd talks about the paper’s continuing journey to glory
WHEN Dante Arevalo Ang took over the reins of The Manila Times in 2001, all he was able to acquire was its legacy and prominence as the Philippines’ oldest newspaper. To make matters more challenging, he also inherited unsettled commitments from previous owners, rendering the phrase “starting from scratch” an understatement.

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Never one to turn his back on any obligation—most especially his pledge to serve the public with accurate and relevant information—Ang committed not just himself but his family in rebuilding The Manila Times. He knew that by doing so, he would ensure the kind of passion and dedication needed to pursue such a difficult yet noble endeavor of reviving what is veritably a national treasure.

From the onset, he recruited his eldest son and namesake Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd—a scholar and journalism graduate from Texas’ A&M University and a Master’s Degree holder in Business Administration—to play an active part in the company. By then, the younger Ang had already secured a diverse know-how in publishing, marketing and media, having worked as a reporter at the Tulsa Tribune in Oklahoma, USA; as Vice President for Marketing of a monthly OFW publication in Italy; and as Foreign Information Officer at the Philippine Consulate in Toronto.

Initially appointed as Executive Vice President of The Manila Times, Ang 2nd was tasked to steer the paper’s rebranding and editorial thrust in line with his father’s vision and valuable guidance, alongside past and current publishers Rony Diaz and Rene Bas, respectively.

Now the company’s President-CEO and concurrent Executive Editor for the last 11 years, Ang 2nd has effectively infused modern management styles and editorial innovations in the paper, turning it from strength to strength to this, its 118th anniversary.

Today, in the following interview, he recalls the developments which The Manila Times has undergone with his family’s steadfast commitment, especially in the recent years, in the face of the digital age and social media. Evidently like his father, Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd will stop at nothing until this living legacy—now beloved to his family more than ever—regains its rightful place of glory.

Question: What are the most significant improvements implemented in The Manila Times since your family acquired the newspaper?

Answer: To understand the improvements, we have to understand where we are now and where we came from. Right now, The Manila Times is ranked number four nationwide based on market surveys done by other parties. In some markets, for example in Davao, we are placed in the top three. That is a big improvement from the time the present management took over the company in 2001.

But despite the fact that the paper is number four or number three nationwide, The Manila Times’ feedback shows that in terms of Opinion, it is number one. The paper has the best columnists in the Philippines today in the likes of Ambassador Roberto Tiglao, Yen Makabenta, former Senators Kit Tatad and Rene Saguisag, Ricardo Saludo, Gus Lagman and many others who comprise our stable of columnists.

Q: Under your family’s stewardship The Manila Times has numerous awards and recognitions, the most notable of which are the Jaime Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism, a recognition from the Philippine Press Institute for its columns and its balanced news, and a consistent Philippine Superbrands awardee since 2005. In the lead up to its 118th anniversary what other accolades has the paper received?

A: We received several other awards most recently from the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) as Outstanding Newspaper during their 18th anniversary rites held in Malacañang; and last January, Fast Times—the weekly motoring section of The Manila Times—was again adjudged as the Best Automotive Broadsheet during Ford Motor Co.’s 15th Henry Ford Awards (HFA). It was Fast Times’ fourth HFA win and second back-to-back award since 2011.

But really the award that matters the most is the award given to us daily by our readers. The fact that people choose The Manila Times over other papers that are available, to me that’s the more important award we can receive.

In that regard, we are doing our best to improve our paper but we have many more things we would like to do. And all of the things that we do is geared toward fulfilling a promise that we made 15 years ago when we bought The Manila Times, which is to restore its old glory. We are not yet there but we feel that we are on our way to achieving that goal. Hopefully, and soon, The Manila Times will take flight. We feel that we are taxiing down the runway for a take-off.

Q: In the past year, what changes have been made in terms of editorial content?

A: There are ongoing changes taking place and new pages that have been introduced this year. In the print edition, there have been new sections added and reinstated. Some of them are in Lifestyle, which carries Expats and Diplomats, Parenting, Fitness and Wellness, Fashion and Beauty, High Living, and Society. Entertainment news has also been strengthened with the addition of showbiz authorities writing for us such as veteran Lhar Santiago and hip TV, radio and social media personality MJ Marfori.

There are also major additions to Business with sections such as Real Estate, Health News, Green Business, Agribusiness and Maritime. Recently too, the branding of the paper’s business section changed. From Business, it’s become Business Times with World Report.

Another big change that the paper did is to launch Sports as a separate section in The Manila Times. We now offer the most number of pages for sports with a Football and Baseball page, a lot of Basketball coverage, and contact sports such as boxing, MMA and traditional martial arts.

This was all done with The Manila Times’ plan and desire to offer people a good general circulation paper and a good business paper in one purchase. We want to make people feel that when they buy The Manila Times today, they are buying two newspapers.

Q: How has The Manila Times kept up with the digital age in the recent years?

A: We have had our Internet edition for the longest time, but soon, The Manila Times will be launching its new mobile application free of charge. It will be an app that will be available on both iPhone and Android.

The aim is to create a design that makes it easier for people to read the news and to have a design that is attractive to people who read news using mobile apps.

When you look at The Manila Times and you see the print and digital editions, when you see our website, and eventually the mobile app, these are all designed with specific audiences in mind. For example, on our website we have breaking news, so that we have news content that is not on our print edition. Why do we do that? Because that’s the expectation of people who read the news online.

Again, I say that everything we do is designed to cater to a specific segment of the market, but overall what we want is The Manila Times to be relevant and a trusted source of information that make people free and self-governing.

Q: What are the administration’s future plans for the company and its staff?

A: Even though we have achieved much, there is still quite a lot to do in restoring the old glory of The Manila Times. I think that time is now. I see from the developments in the Philippine market that there is a clear opportunity today.

To increase its market share, The Times is constantly improving its layout and editorial content. The Times also organizes active promotions and advertising campaigns.

The Times builds and strengthens networks and linkages with business and government leaders. It conducts regular roundtable interviews with CEOs, Cabinet secretaries, ambassadors and other newsmakers of the day. The roundtables are reported as news and features.

There are also a lot of things we would like to do as a company. I am trying to talk to different organizations now to help us with the development of our people. The overall aim is to elevate the standards of The Manila Times by instituting programs that would help the professional development of our reporters, editors and other people in the company.

Very soon, there will be a project that will be helping colleges and universities raise the profile of their school, so we’re working on that feverishly.

Those who are interested, including those who are associated with us through The Manila Times College network, include Emilio Aguinaldo College, Baliuag University, St. Michael’s College, Lyceum of the Philippines University and few others.

Q: To sum up, what can the readers expect from The Manila Times as it begins its 118th year?

A: I think readers of The Manila Times can expect hard-hitting but balanced reporting. They can also expect through our columnists an understanding of why things happen because we strive beyond informing our readers about the important things that are happening in government, to the economy, in other facets, and how all of it affects or impacts, and maybe even inspire their lives.

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