Goodbye from Southeast Asia Globe

Goodbyes are never easy, but this one is especially difficult. Today we announce the suspension of publishing at Southeast Asia Globe

Southeast Asia Globe team
September 1, 2023
Goodbye from Southeast Asia Globe
The Southeast Asia Globe team.

We want to start this letter by saying it’s a privilege to do what we do. Even on days when the news is slow or the work has piled up, there’s not a moment that passes where we’d rather turn our backs on the journalistic pursuit.

So it’s with a heavy heart today that we must announce the suspension of publishing at Southeast Asia Globe, effective at the end of September. This is not a decision made lightly, nor as a reflection of the work of our staff, but rather the painful outcome of intensifying financial challenges unfortunately common to our industry.

We’ll touch on some of those in this letter. But first, we want to say these past 16 years have been a fantastic run.

We embarked on this journey in 2007 with the idea of bringing an international style publication to Cambodia, and we achieved our aim. From high quality stories and reporting on Southeast Asia and Cambodia showcasing world class photography and design, we made a commitment to turn out a premium, 100-page magazine every month. We maintained that commitment for 12 years without interruption, expanding to new markets and distributing the magazine in eight countries throughout the region by 2014.

A selection of Southeast Asia Globe magazine covers from over the years.

With the rise of digital publishing and social media paired against the mounting costs of print and distributing magazines, we closed out the print version of Globe with our December 2018 edition. We then turned our attention to building the Globe you know today as a digital platform. From the start, we had embarked with a mission of sharing stories from around the region that promote a more informed, inclusive and sustainable future to a readership that cherishes well-written and designed articles. Looking back, we believe we’ve stayed true to those principles while honouring the standards we set at our founding.

Since moving the publication online, we’ve seen tremendous growth of our audience. Readers come to our website every month from more than 100 countries – something that would have been impossible to achieve in print. The shift to a digital-only publication model coincided with the launch of our membership programme and other services to boost revenue and fill the holes left by the loss of print-based advertising revenues. 

The building out of the subscription model and some of these other paid services, also coincided with the onset of the Covd-19 pandemic, presenting an important means of adapting to the new realities of the media market. But it also side-tracked us from focusing on the publication as we urgently worked to create new income and stay afloat. Upon reflection, this juncture was a critical moment in the Globe’s arc. 

Though we succeeded in diversifying the business side of our operations to create incomes that funded our journalism, this diversification also led to a larger team and increased costs. The shift diverted important resources away from nurturing the publication and, ultimately, growing the membership model. This most certainly was not the only factor leading to today’s announcement, but it was an important one along the way.

Beyond the challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic and the trajectory we set from its consequences, the current reality is that it has become increasingly difficult to pay competitive salaries, making it impossible to grow. We’re one of the few publications that has remained financially and editorially independent in a difficult market and challenging media environment. With that, we’ve never relied on big donors or large grants, instead focusing on the support of our readers through memberships while providing services to clients through our parent company, Globe Media Asia.

Globe Media Asia team
The Globe Media Asia team at a staff event in 2022.

While ultimately we failed to make the Globe sustainable, this important fact has allowed us to keep our reporting both independent and uninfluenced.

We’re proud of this fact, but without some level of financing and readily available capital, the resources needed to secure the Globe as a sustainable venture are untenable, at least for now. The current economic outlook projects a situation where we continue to flounder and the entire organisation fails.  

Our accomplishments would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of this collective team

The decision to cut Globe was extremely difficult for us to make. We take some consolation in knowing that at any given moment in the past 16 years, we were passionate and proud of our work. We believe we’ve educated, enlightened, inspired and hopefully made a tangible impact through the stories we’ve shared. This is true mostly because we’ve worked with so many amazing people over the years, both as regular members of our staff but also as freelancers and contributors, friends and allies. 

Our accomplishments would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of this collective team. We want to thank each and every one of you out there and will be sharing a special post dedicated to you later this month.

Our collective body of work won’t be going away, and Globe will not be entirely shutting down. We will keep the website open and available – without a paywall – as we believe these stories have lasting value and meaning. For our paid subscribers, there should be no further charges made to your account. If you have any questions, please do get in touch with us by email or phone. 

Going through our archives, we hope you’ll find our reporting has helped to set the record on a time and place throughout the years. We’ll be re-sharing some of our favourite articles over the next few weeks and still have a number of exciting original pieces that we’ll be publishing throughout September. That includes more episodes of our Anakut podcast about Cambodia’s future, as well as dispatches from the country’s forests and increasingly closed political realm. 

Looking past the end of September, we’ll still be publishing new articles here and there, and will be investing some of our energies into relaunching our website, where we plan to expand our coverage and take a more homed in and multimedia approach to covering Cambodia as it enters a new era. We’ll also be releasing a print version of Focus Cambodia magazine in early 2024. Finally, you can expect us to continue sharing updates through this newsletter, which we hope to build out as more of a micro-publication for our 50,000-plus subscribers. 

As for Globe, we hope this is not the end, but it’s certainly goodbye for now as we go back to the drawing board in search of a business model that works. We’ve learned a lot over the past few years and are open to any and all conversations with those who might be interested in working together or taking over the publication.

In the meantime, our inbox is open, so please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you. And before we go, we’d like to say thank you again to all of our readers, partners and amazing teammates and colleagues from over the years. We could not have come this far without you.

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