Perhaps the most controversial newspaper in the country, Utusan Malaysia has also one of the highest readership numbers in Malaysia.
Widely circulated and read
In 2009, according to ABC or Audit Bureau of Circulation, the circulation is at 169,548 for the Bahasa Malaysia language daily.
Long history in Malaysia
It actually means The Malaysian Courier. In many ways, Utusan Malaysia very much shaped the media industry in the country to what it is today. The daily began operations in 1939 in Singapore when it was known as Utusan Melayu. It was launched and presented in broadsheet format. Since then, the columnists and editors have been known to have the penchant to be very outspoken.
Background of this influential media voice
It all goes back to 1939 when the first Utusan Melayu was published. Then the business was registered in Singapore by one Yusof Ishak and Abdul Rahim Kajai. The former would eventually become Singapore’s first President while the latter has been known to be one of the most prominent figures in Malay journalism. 20 years after it set foot in Singapore, the newspaper moved to Kuala Lumpur. It must be noted that Utusan Melayu started out in Jawi and was only Romanized in 1967 when it became Utusan Malaysia.
Contents and Segments – Utusan’s Major Selling Points
In its own way, Utusan Malaysia has been known to be quite a traditional paper. However, it was to become the first newspaper to go fully online in Malaysia when it launched ‘Utusan Malaysia On-Line’ in 1997. Paid-subscribers would then be able to read the full digital version of the paper. 4 years later, it launched the ‘Utusan Education Portal’ which would become one of the top 5 education websites in the country.
The segments provided by Utusan Malaysia include:
- News – The main part of the newspaper that covers a variety of areas. This includes the latest news currently happening, City news (under Kota), National News, Politics, Parlimen and International news, among others
- Rencana – This segment covers special issues that are being talked about in the country. It has its own columnists, the rumors as well as a forum
- Entertainment – Called ‘Hiburan’, this segment covers news in the entertainment industry both local and foreign, Celebrity news, music, film and drama, TV programmes and others
- Business (Bisnes) – This segment covers Economy, Corporate news, Entrepreneurs, Automotive, Real Estate, Technology, Shares and Currency and others
- Sports (Sukan) – Sports news are very important among the readers. Utusan Malaysia covers Football, Badminton, Hockey and Racing, among others both from the local and international circuits.
Readership and Circulation – Among the highest in Malaysia
Utusan Malaysia has 2 major versions, the main one which is circulated on weekdays while on Sundays, it is circulated as Mingguan Malaysia. The newspaper’s circulation is audited by ABC or Audit Bureau of Malaysia and the most recent figures show that:
- Utusan Malaysia – Circulation at about 150,000 each day
- Mingguan Malaysia – Circulation at about 330,000
In terms of readership, Utusan Malaysia and Mingguan Malaysia command among the highest in the newspaper category with an average of about 700,000 readership. These numbers are a far cry from its hey-days when it used to circulate at the highest rate of 350,000 copies a day. That was in the 1990s and it was then among the best-selling publications in the country.
Market sentiments and perception
As a newspaper, Utusan Malaysia is no stranger to controversy as it is part of Umno, the largest Malay political party in Malaysia. As such, it has often been regarded to be the political mouthpiece for the party. In fact, several headlines published by Utusan Malaysia has been criticized for being ‘racist’, ‘political’ and ‘controversial’. This has given the newspaper a very negative perception among its customers. Besides that, some of its columnists have often been slammed for being given a free-hand in voicing out their opinions which has shed negative lights on members of the opposition party and from other races and backgrounds.