One of Malaysia’s major Bahasa Malaysia daily is Berita Harian. It is a newspaper which is available throughout the week from Mondays to Saturdays with the Sunday edition called Berita Minggu. Established in 1 July 1957, Berita Harian newspaper is often regarded as a truly Malaysian paper. It is after all as old as the country having started circulation since independence.
Born on the same day as Malaysia
The paper began publication on the day of independence which is the 31 August 1957. This gives Berita Harian a lot of significance since it is published in the national language. Then, Berita Harian was known as a more business paper. It was the printed in broadsheet format which went on for 50 years. In 2007, Berita Harian took a bold step and changed its format to tabloid style in an attempt to better target the younger readers.
Ownership and circulation
Berita Harian is owned by NSTP (New Straits Times Press Bhd) the biggest print media company in Malaysia. This means that it is somewhat linked to the government’s ruling party, Barisan Nasional. The circulation for Berita Harian in 2009 was recorded by ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) was around 150,000.
Other related publications
Berita Harian also has a sister publication known as Harian Metro, which is more popular among the youth and contains more tabloid typed new. While Berita Harian is targeted at the executives and older readers, Harian Metro is aimed to provide news to the younger crowd.
Generally, Berita Harian contains daily news from the local and international fronts while sports, business and entertainment news are also reported in other pages. The change from broadsheet to tabloid style has given Berita Harian a breath of fresh air. In fact, it has changed the perception of readers towards the daily.
However, the association with NSTP and the political party means that the new and younger generation of readers might be sceptical into reading everything Berita Harian publishes. This is because any media linked with the government will always be seen to be biased.
Besides news and current issues, Berita Harian also contains segments like world news, business news, technology and such. One of the highlights of Berita Harian is that it comes with a daily supplement for education. This includes exercises and revision for students in the secondary schools to practice on in improving their language and other skills. This is a very significant effort for Berita Harian which has been distributed and subscribed by national schools all over the country as part of their extra curricular exercises.
Background and significant milestones
Berita Harian was launched as the first Romanized Bahasa Malaysia newspaper. As it was associated with The Straits Times, the contents were very much similar (only in a different language). It started out with only 8 staff. 3 years later, Berita Minggu was launched which would be the first BM Sunday newspaper. By 1974, the newspaper grew and by then had 12 pages. The contents and segments in the paper include:
- Trade and Business
- Education and study
- General News
- Foreign News
New segments were then added to the paper later on. This include:
- Jaguh – Introduced in 1989, this was a 16-page Sports pullout
- 1991 saw a new Berita Minggu format
- Berita Pelajar
- Berita Wanita
- Berita Teknologi
2003 saw a major change in the outlook of the paper with a lot of re-segmenting of the contents.
Significant Data about Berita Harian
Although Berita Harian has been around since 1957, the current and more modern outlook only came about from 2005. It is owned and operated by The New Straits Times Press (M) Berhad, one of the largest media owners in Malaysia. Among the important factors about Berita Harian is that:
- The format of the newspaper is compact
- Language: Bahasa Malaysia
- Circulation – About 106,000 on a daily basis for BH while BH Ahad gets about 190,000
- The daily E-Paper and BH Ahad E-Paper meanwhile gets about 3,700 circulation
Contents and Segments
- News or Berita – This is the main section of the paper. It covers all happenings within the county and its latest developments. This includes politics, social, news and others
- Dunia (World) – This segment covers all the news from overseas. Segmented according to the region, news and happenings are divided based on Asean, Asia, Europe, USA, Africa and others
- Entertainment – Known as Hiburan, this segment covers all the latest news in the entertainment industry which includes Celebrities, movies, gossip and such
- Sports or Sukan – All the sports news concerning Malaysian athletes as well as news from overseas. This segment is divided among Football, Badminton, Racing and others
- Business – the business segment encompasses many significant areas like corporate, market, economy, technology, real estate, entrepreneurs, automotive and others
- Commentary – This is an important section in BH because it includes a lot of current issues in the religion, social, political and economics.
- Women – A favorite among the women readers, this segment covers fashion news, trending styles, health for women, family and many other interesting topics
Market sentiments and perception of Berita Harian
Like most of the daily newspapers in Malaysia, Berita Harian has once been regarded to be associated with the ruling government of its time. As such, the newspaper was at one time perceived to publish bias reports. However, in its effort to reinvent its brand and to stay relevant in today’s competitive market, BH has been very successful in changing the mindset of the consumers where it has been able to break away from the conservative concept. In fact, the change of the format has helped BH a lot in reaching to the younger market while capturing a larger market share from its closest competitor Utusan Malaysia.