Our mission, the team, and partners
Splice is media transformation in Asia.
You’re probably here because you want to see what Splice is all about. The short answer is that we’re the Nieman Lab of Asia (without the funding!). But seriously, you should stay for the long answer.
We’re a self-funded media startup based in Singapore. We want to be at the center of the transformation of media in Asia.
The Splice story started with an irritation: that media wasn’t making the most of the arrival of the internet.
We’re in a golden age of media. For the first time, we’re able to create information and news faster and cheaper, and deliver it into the hands of those who want or need it.
And yet we talk of media as a dying, irrelevant industry. This is even more difficult in a region that doesn’t have equivalents to Nieman Lab, Journalism.co.uk, Digiday, EJC, or Poynter.
Our mission at Splice is to drive radical transformational change by supporting bold, forward-looking media startups in Asia. Here’s how we’re doing it.
We report on the transformation of media in Asia.
We are read by people who work across the media ecosystem: SCMP, CNN, Quartz, BuzzFeed, Rappler, Twitter, Asahi Shimbun, ABC, New York University, FT, BBC, Facebook, Straits Times, Reuters, Open Society Foundation, Chartbeat, Google, Omidyar, and Malaysiakini.
We work with writers across the region, covering Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
We love talking about the inspiring work that media startups such as R Vision, Frontier Myanmar, the Mekong Review, FactWire, New Naratif, Magdalene, Malaysiakini, Citizen Matters, and The News Lens are doing in Asia.
We also report on the gaps in media, especially when it comes to diversity, discrimination, opportunity, and access. We run these stories on our site and they are often picked up on Nieman Lab, IJ Net, Mumbrella, Asian Correspondent and others.
Our newsletters are part of that reporting. Our goal is to keep you informed of what’s happening in media trends: stories of transformation, innovation, and user experience and perception.
Our content is meant to be copied
This reporting is free to re-publish — our work is created under a Creative Commons license because we want it to be read and published elsewhere. That’s how we spread our ideas and that’s how we help our writers find more readers to connect with.
You just need to give Splice appropriate credit, link to our original story, and indicate if you’ve made changes on your end. You’ll find all the details on our Creative Commons license here. Or just email us. We love email.
Workshops and talks
We take some of the ideas we’ve generated from our reporting and turn these into case studies that we teach at workshops, or other events such as conferences. This is one way we make a living.
We talk about media trends — what’s happening in this space, and how that affects the way consumers respond. More importantly, we drive discussions around what needs to be done by the industry.
We’re known for our work in media design; we’ve run design-thinking workshops with a focus on helping publishers connect problems that exist with potential solutions. We are building on a design canvas that we’ve created specifically for media.
We’ve done workshops and talks in various formats and content for the European Journalism Centre, Open Society Foundations, WAN-IFRA, the U.S. State Department, Medtronic, Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, and Ink Publishing.
Need a Splice workshop? Email us.
We support the important work that journalism schools are doing in Asia. We’re partners with the University of Hong Kong, Nanyang Technological University, and Kaplan in their efforts to grow the next generation of media professionals. We provide coaching, internships, and advisory support.
We audit and research media businesses and their relationships with their audiences. The dynamic between them is defined by change, and it is central to the Splice DNA to track its evolution.
Splice recently worked on a media landscape audit that we did on behalf of UNDP Cambodia’s project on media alternatives. See the article, get the executive summary booklet, or download the full report here.
We also worked with Facebook to audit the media landscape in Australia and New Zealand to understand what it would take for media startups to grow and thrive in the next 2-3 years. We spoke with almost forty media companies about the way they approached their market, their products, their users, and their ideas for the future.
If you’d like to commission Splice for a research project, get in touch.
Consulting covers the bulk of our operating costs. This is the deep, transformative work we’ve been doing with newsrooms big and small to drive change within the organizations in countries such as Indonesia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Philippines. We work directly with these media organizations, and at times, with media support non-profits.
This is where we deploy the best of our case studies to solve specific problems. It could be to change mindsets in productization and workflows.
We’ve designed operational processes for a newsroom for one of the world’s largest digital broadcasters and integrated it with their social strategy.
We’re currently working with the Google News Initiative in collaboration with Echos on Asia’s first design accelerator program for news and media companies in Asia to build a culture of innovation. As part of this program, GNI DA partnered with seven small, medium, and large media companies from seven countries across Asia Pacific, helping to foster a design thinking mindset and creating seven new products (one per partner) that defined new audiences, new revenue models, organisational culture, and encouraged a product mindset.
We’re currently supporting efforts to build a membership model for Frontier Myanmar.
Do you have a media transformation project you’d like us to work on? Let’s talk.
We’re keen to support the work of media startups.
We believe that while it’s important to support the transformation of traditional newsrooms, the real change to media can only come when small, nimble startups take the lead. We’re obsessed about finding ways to help build sustainable options for media.
We love what we do. We hope you do too.
We’re always looking for the next opportunity to transform this industry. Reach out if you’d like a chat.
Our recent work
Google News Initiative Design Accelerator
In 2019, Splice partnered with the Google News Initiative and Echos to launch the first Google News Initiative Design Accelerator for Asia. Our goal is to help create a user mindset, culture, and practices to support this region’s news industry. The program introduced design thinking concepts to upskill newsroom teams on business strategy, operations, and product.
UNDP hired us in 2019 to audit the state of media in Cambodia as part of their media alternatives project. We conducted 16 interviews newspaper publishers, non-profits, investors, foundations, educators, media startup founders, UN and development agencies in Phnom Penh. We identified five key steps needed to build an ecosystem around new media initiatives in the country. The findings will go into the creation of an ecosystem-focused incubator in Cambodia.
CNN in Myanmar
In 2017, we were hired by CNN to build out the digital operations of its Myanmar affiliate, One News. We audited the newsroom’s capabilities, and recommended and built out a basic framework for digital publishing. We helped create a Drupal-based CMS backend, and designed the front-end of the site.
We conducted a landscape audit across Australia and New Zealand in October and November 2018 to get a better idea of the media startup space. Specifically, we were trying to understand why there aren’t more media startups in a wealthy market like Australia. We provided recommendations to Facebook on ways to support media startups with training and funding.
In 2019, we helped Frontier Myanmar pivot from an ad-dominant model to a membership one, supported by funding from Google. For six months, we worked on the strategy, pricing, branding, product line up and product design for the new Frontier. We also trained the team on user-centric mindsets, tools and workflows.
In late 2017, we ran a business sustainability study for the Denmark-based IMS into Myanmar Now’s operations. We looked at its strategy, operations, workflows and talent. Recommendations were submitted to both Myanmar Now and IMS.
Asia Journalism Fellowship
We are long-time supporters of AJF’s annual efforts to build a community of aspiring journalists across Asia. We’ve been involved in the selection of fellows, teaching workshops on media trends and user-centric designs, as well as mentoring individual journalists. See some of our training materials here.
We’re doing this because we can’t shake this belief that something needs to be done to help pull this region’s media industry together.
ALAN SOON is the co-founder of Splice Media. A career journalist for two decades, Alan has worked in radio, television, news wires, magazine, and online across Asia, giving him unique insight into how various newsrooms get things done—and where they get stuck. He started his career as a reporter and grew into other operational roles at Bloomberg, CNBC, Kyodo News, Star TV and Channel NewsAsia. He eventually led one of the largest digital news teams in the industry as Yahoo’s Managing Editor for India and Southeast Asia. Follow Alan on Twitter or email him at email@example.com.
RISHAD PATEL is a product and design professional. He is the co-founder of Splice Media. For over twenty years, Rishad has designed and developed products for the web, mobile, radio, advertising, newsrooms, newspapers, magazines, podcasting, branding, books, and floor rugs for companies in Singapore, India, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States. He has been a design consultant for MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and SMART (the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology), and ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule), and an editorial consultant at The Straits Times in Singapore, the Wanganui Chronicle in New Zealand, and Mid-Day in Mumbai. He was also a co-founder of a gifting app startup in San Francisco, and a Singapore-based fintech startup. Follow Rishad on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THOMAS ABRAHAM is an author and journalist based in Bengaluru, India. He has over three decades of experience as a journalist and is a former editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. He was on the faculty of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of the University of Hong Kong for over a decade, where he ran the Masters in Journalism program, and taught health and science journalism. Thomas has also worked at the World Health Organization in Geneva in the Director General’s office where he headed the news department. He is the author of Twentieth Century Plague: The Story of SARS (2004) and Polio, The Odyssey of Eradication (2018). He has a particular interest in helping to develop sustainable models of digital journalism.
ROSS SETTLES brings almost two decades of experience working in strategy, marketing and product development for media companies in the U.S. and East Asia. During the last decade, Settles has seen advertisers and publishers struggle with the rapidly evolving media environment. As both a consultant and media marketing executive, Settles has worked with revenue and product marketing teams to develop and market the best mix of advertising and content packages. Past work has focused on marketing, product and revenue development work for companies in the structured listings space (Zvents, CareerBuilder, ShopLocal), online news content (Yahoo! Local, The Knight Foundation) as well as the promotion and marketing of social networking services to advertisers and communities of audiences.
We couldn’t do this without the trust and support of our partners.
We worked with Charis Rooda to build out the first version of our website, the home of our newsletters, original stories, and related archives and businesses. Spider are our trusty web developers who keep us ticking over. We also worked with editor Holly Robertson and a growing number of talented freelance journalists for their reporting and insights.
Thanks to the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong, Splice will work with some of Asia’s brightest journalism faculty and students to tell the incredible stories of media transformation coming out of China and the region. We will also work with JMSC on research, toolkits, and events across the region. Details here.
Also, big thanks to the Facebook Journalism Project for the encouragement and support in making all this happen.
Do you want to be part of this? Get in touch. Let’s build a partnership for media transformation in Asia together.
Conflicts and ethics
At Splice, we push for change in driving a point of view, speaking about the state of the media and the best practices that can sustain it, and funding projects that change the industry.
We’re a for-profit B2B business with a mission. Think of us as advocates for the transformation of media. We are in a unique position where we’re reporting on the industry, funding it at times, doing consulting work to sustain ourselves, and, on other occasions, teaching best practices.
As is the case with all media organizations, there are inherent conflicts of interest in what we do. For one, we report on the community that we sell training and consulting services to. That’s why we want to be upfront about how we work and where we think some of these conflict lines are drawn. We aim to manage and mitigate these conflicts through disclosure, responsibility, transparency, and feedback.
Where our money comes from
We are primarily self-funded, but supported by the training and consulting work we do. We’ve also accepted a grant from Facebook.
Who our funds support
We provide prototype funding to media startups as part of our Splice 100 program. We may also from time-to-time report on the same startups that we support. We will disclose this in our reporting.
About our spouses
We, the co-founders, are both married to Facebook executives working in the communications team. Both of our spouses joined Facebook months after we received our grant from the company in 2017. We do not discuss Facebook matters at home.
How we work with ads
We accept ads from advertisers who want to reach media professionals. In the past, this has included clients such as New York Times and Reuters. We are gatekeepers to our audience, so we’re very careful about the clients we bring on and the advertising messages we run. We will share organizational information such as generic roles and organization names with our advertisers, but never the specific names of our readers — and definitely not their email addresses.
The Splice logo
The Splice logo is called the Splice Tile.
It is a seating plan, or a content layout, or a street map, or a microchip, or a photo grid, or a chest of drawers, or an organisational chart, or a electrical diagram, or a tree map, or an origami pattern, or a website, or a classroom, or a landmass, or a photo frame, or a path through the garden, or a window, or a dinner tray, or a comic strip, or a house, or solar panels, or the tiles in your bathroom, the pictures on your wall, or a dashboard, or a maze.
It represents order. It speaks to structure, and a pathway to navigate it.
It must be used, like Splice, to tell a story well.