DANTE Francis “Klink” Ang 2nd is having his second wind, bringing The Manila Times to within reach of the top tier of Philippine broadsheets after having trailed behind the leaders of the pack since 2001.
When his family acquired the newspaper, The Manila Times was a shadow of its former self, plagued with problems, shunned by readers and advertisers.
But it still was The Manila Times.
And to Ang and the other new stewards of the brand, that made all the difference.
Having gone through several ownership changes, he says “the history of the Times itself has proven that the brand is more powerful than the resources to run it.
“And that was the challenge for us: To live up to the reputation of The Manila Times.”
What followed was the strengthening of a long-term strategy. The Manila Times would be two newspapers in one: general circulation plus business. And it would not just be about reporting events, but expounding on their significance.
Not long after, it assembled a stellar Opinion section line-up that was a joy to read and difficult to ignore and putting two columnists at a time on Page 1. All columnists offer their own incisive takes on the issues of the day, and on a variety of subjects. At times, it even seems that they are pitted against each other, opposing sides of the debate on the same page, for readers to right away reflect on. The section clearly reflects management’s mandate for the newpaper: depth, balance.
The Business section has also undergone retooling. Apart from delivering news, it now also regularly carries thought leadership contributions from individual business leaders and industry associations. New sections Life & Times, BoardRoom Watch, Golf and Education have also been improved or introduced. The Manila Times has conducted round table interviews and business fora to extend conversations commenced online and on paper, to actual person-to-person exchanges.
As The Manila Times settles into a more comfortable groove, Ang is training his sights on expansion, building on the back of the reinvigorated brand.
The brand, already present in print and online, is slowly extending to video. A project in partnership with The Manila Times College of Journalism, The Manila Times TV will offer stories drawn from the print and online formats, repurposed for video. It will also include input from students to allow the title to tap into the thinking of younger audiences.
Ang is also looking at options for Southeast Asian expansion. He feels a regional exchange of news is now needed as the country’s neighbors have become more accessible by affordable air travel, and more relatable with the Philippines’ chairmanship this year of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the presence of Filipino workers across the region.
The chief steward of The Manila Times brand is optimistic about the future. After all, the brand has withstood the test of time.