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Mary Kathleen Quiano-Castro (Editor-in-Chief, The ASEAN Magazine)

The magazine was the vision of Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. I credit him for seeing the need to communicate as a narrative in a more accessible and relatable way. That’s what you call innovation. Since the magazine’s launch in May, we have been able to feature articles ASEAN’s work against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on lives and economies. ASEAN magazine covers and bears witness to this unprecedented crisis. That’s reshaping the way we live.

ကျွန်တော်က စာပိုဒ်တစ်ခုပါ။ ကျွန်ုပ်သည် ဒေတာအစုံမှတဆင့် သင်၏စုဆောင်းမှုသို့ ချိတ်ဆက်ထားပါသည်။ ကျွန်ုပ်ကို အပ်ဒိတ်လုပ်ရန် ဒေတာမန်နေဂျာသို့ သွားပါ။ ဒေတာမန်နေဂျာသည် သင့်ဆိုက်စာမျက်နှာများတွင် အသုံးပြုရန် ဒေတာကို သိမ်းဆည်းသည့်နေရာ သို့မဟုတ် ဖောင်တစ်ခုတင်သွင်းသည့်အခါ ဆိုက်လာရောက်သူများထံမှ ဒေတာစုဆောင်းသည့်နေရာဖြစ်သည်။


ဒေတာမန်နေဂျာရှိ ဤစုစည်းမှုကို အကွက်များနှင့် အကြောင်းအရာအချို့ဖြင့် သတ်မှတ်ပြီးဖြစ်သည်။ ၎င်းကို သင့်ကိုယ်ပိုင်အကြောင်းအရာဖြင့် စိတ်ကြိုက်ပြင်ဆင်ရန်၊ သင်သည် CSV ဖိုင်ကို တင်သွင်းနိုင်သည် သို့မဟုတ် နေရာယူထားသည့် စာသားကို ရိုးရှင်းစွာ တည်းဖြတ်နိုင်သည်။ သင့်ထုတ်ဝေထားသော ဆိုက်တွင် အကြောင်းအရာကို ပြသနိုင်ရန် အခြားစာမျက်နှာဒြပ်စင်များနှင့် ချိတ်ဆက်နိုင်သည့် နယ်ပယ်များကို သင်ထပ်ထည့်နိုင်သည်။ သင်၏အကြောင်းအရာကို တိုက်ရိုက်ထုတ်လွှင့်ရန် စုစည်းမှုကို ထပ်တူပြုရန် မမေ့ပါနှင့်။ ဒေတာကို သိမ်းဆည်းရန် သို့မဟုတ် စုဆောင်းရန် လိုအပ်သလောက် စုဆောင်းမှုအသစ်များစွာကို သင်ထည့်နိုင်သည်။

The ASEAN Magazine

Mary Kathleen Quiano-Castro (Editor-in-Chief, The ASEAN Magazine)

Presentation Video


Good afternoon from Jakarta. Thank you for inviting me to be part of the ASEAN-ROK Culture Innovation Summit. I am truly honored to be with you all, today. I am Kathy Kiana Castro and I am currently the editor-in-chief of a new magazine published by the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community or ASCC Department of the ASEAN Secretariat.

Before I joined this project, I was a broadcast journalist for 30 years. 24 of those years, I worked for CNN International. I was a child of Television, like many in the Gen. X. I grew up in a household where there was one television set, as we called it, then. That was in black and white, colored TVs arrived much later. I studied journalism in the 1980s when broadcast news was the means to learn.

That time, my country was going through political crisis and transition. As I left university, the Philippines came under a new democratic government and with it came a vibrant, free press.

As a young producer, my first foray was for an investigative news program called “The Probe Team.” One of the first stories was about a 10-year old boy who dropped out of school and living on the streets. In the interview, when we asked him why he wasn’t with his parents. He paused. A tears started rolling down his cheeks and he said because my mother is a whore. My team and I were stunned, the question in our minds, what should we air this interview?

While it was a compelling story that featured the poor and neglected children in my country, it was also the first time I questioned myself and my chosen profession. Are we exploiting this young child to make good TV? Or did we have a fiduciary duty to tell his story that the country may see him, that the government may help him.

He was one of many. The rules are slightly changed now and there are more stringent guidelines about doing interviews with minors. But that boy’s heart-wrenching account of his life was the first crossroad I faced early in my career.

It was a time for me; journalists of my generation to determine what freedom of the press meant. I learned early on that, that freedom comes with responsibilities. In that pioneering TV program and the Philippines, our mantra was to tell stories that moved and compelled viewers: To look in the mirror, to look at difficult situations. We delivered to our audiences, issues that they should care about. Problems that they should confront and solve.

What is the story? That is always my question. Does it resonate with people’s concerns and hopes?

Does a story have meaning and purpose? What impact can your information have on people’s lives?

How can it empower them to exact change? I learned this discipline even more in my 24 years with CNN International, work that brought me all over Southeast Asia. I witnessed the tremendous changes in the region that shaped its history, covering some of the most unbelievable events during that era: The Asian economic crisis, the political and social changes, major terrorist attacks, the deadly South Asian tsunami, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, super typhoons, and many other disasters.

As a field producer, I was working in a fast-paced, stress-filled multicultural environments.

I worked with the most respected in-season international correspondents, producers, videographers, and editors to cover breaking news. But we also produced in-depth and insightful reports and documentaries. What a time to be a journalist!

Unfortunately, I don’t have an album of selfies to show for it. Back then, taking photos of ourselves out on the field was not the norm. If we did take any, it felt self-indulgent. In that respect, I remain old-school. I still believe that journalists are not part of the story. Now, what was happening then was also a shift from analog to digital technology which began in the late 1990s to early 2000s.

I was right in the middle of that transition. I was fortunate to work with CNN which I believe is the first international news organization that invested in-use portable satellite transmission devices, which came in all sizes and shapes that we had to log around and travel with all over the region. But it allowed correspondents to report live from the most remote places, the remote areas of Southeast Asia. And that changes broadcast news here significantly.

Now, this is what we call-we called it bake then, a video phone. We were able to transmit live images from all over Southeast Asia at the rate of 128. Mbps, mind you, that was like lightning speed for us already. In about 10 years, advent of newer technology was shaped the way we work, from my first mobile phone to a Blackberry; from huge analog cameras to smaller digital cameras; from analog editing machines to MacBook’s Final Cut Pro.

Despite my reluctance and resistance, I had to learn fast, adapt, and embrace new technology as it came along. I first learned how to edit videos on Betacam machines. I refused to believe that video editing on a laptop would make my work faster and easier. It did. And yes, Google arrived in 1998, but we weren’t using it as much to get information. Now, we all wonder how did we manage to research before Google?

These were technological disruptions at my generation experienced in a span of 10-15 years.

But since a smartphone replaced all other machines, and technical gadgets including the typewriter, camera, and satellite modem. The disruption has gone at a much quicker pace.

Soon we were expected to take photos, videos and write stories on our smartphones.

I used to admire younger journalists tapping on their phones and tablets at press conferences while I was there scribbling notes on my pen and notebook. It changed the way we told stories. Story shrank to fewer words, produce video stories that run for more than two minutes for almost a thing of the past.

So, how do you tell a story in less than two minutes? We all had to learn.

I had to learn at the end, adapt to this digital world. You may call it disruption or innovation or whatever new term there might be but the fundamentals remain the same: we consume information, we watch news, buy brands, and read social media posts because of the narrative. Yes, there are wider platforms by which you can access the information today. That is how fake news is proliferated. That’s a whole other topic but a critical one.

But how we absorb the information that we get is based on the narratives or storytellers’ storytelling that resonate with and in us. As a witness to the changing landscape of media that I practice for three decades, I can tell you with certainty that content is still King. What’s the compelling narrative? What’s the stories? How will we make people listen? Media organizations have changed tremendously since I first started my career as a journalist. The old cards have moved on to make way for a younger generation of media practitioners. In fact, it seems anyone can be a journalist now.

I represent a demographic of senior journalists who have shifted to other pursuits and careers. I no longer work for a media organization. I now work for the ASEAN Secretariat.

I used to cover ASEAN summits and related meetings almost every year as they rotated among the ASEAN member states. Still, ASEAN is an enigma to me. What was discussed behind the walls of the secretariat or the big halls where leaders and decision makers met. I had always viewed Asian from the outside, now I get an inside view. While I have a- well, I have to look at issues through a different lens now, I still see them through journalist eyes. I still am a storyteller.

The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community department is also called The People Spiller. The ASCC works with member states in shaping policies and initiatives in the sectors of health, poverty, eradication, rural development, gender, education, youth and sports, environment, disaster management, and humanitarian assistance, and culture, and information. These are issues that relate to people’s lives.

The magazine was the vision of Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. I credit him for seeing the need to communicate as a narrative in a more accessible and relatable way. That’s what you call innovation. Since the magazine’s launch in May, we have been able to feature articles ASEAN’s work against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on lives and economies. ASEAN magazine covers and bears witness to this unprecedented crisis. That’s reshaping the way we live.

The Covid-19 pandemic has magnified the world’s inequalities: The poor, vulnerable, older persons, women, disadvantage children. They all suffer the most during this uncertain times.

In the magazine, my team and I introduced a section called conversations. In it, we feature interviews and profiles of young leader, innovators, climate change advocates, social entrepreneurs to find solutions to the region's most pressing problems, including Covid-19. These are accounts of human struggles, adversities but also of triumph and hope.

They all inspire me.

Bridging cultures is also an important element of the magazine. We have featured an article on Kconnect Asian or Kconnect ASEAN. A cultural program that's funded by the ASEAN-ROK cooperation fund and managed by the ASEAN Foundation. The magazine has so far received positive feedback from our readers in ASEAN and outside the region. It is heartening to know that we might be reaching a wider audience. Sharing the story, the ASEAN way.

The next challenge is how to reach even more people, particularly the younger generations, who will inherit the world in the problems we will leave behind. I am part now, of a fantastic team that's working to reach that goal. How do we compete for people's attention in the digital world? How do we make them care about issues like climate change that we will have an impact on their future? How do we empower them to think and act on solutions to these problems?

I was a child of television. Now, as the middle-aged magazine editor, I live in a world where there are more Nintendo switches than TVs. In fact, I don't remember the last time I turned on my TV. So what's next? We keep going. And we keep up with technology. We engage the youth and learn to speak the language of today. We talk to them in the same space. And then, we continue telling them the stories that better.

Thank you very much.


ASEAN Magazine

The ASEAN is a bi-monthly magazine that provides up-to-date information on ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community developments, including ongoing initiatives and partnerships to address critical issues and emerging trends affecting the ASEAN region. It also carries profile pieces and human-interest stories on individuals and organisations that uphold ASEAN’s ideals and values.

Our website features the full content of the latest magazine release, plus select articles and interviews from past editions of the magazine. A limited number of print copies is available on a first come, first served basis. The full pdf version of all editions is also freely available for download.

The magazine is a product of the ASEAN Secretariat, under the supervision of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Department or ASCCD. The ASEAN Secretariat is the working arm of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a social, political, and economic grouping composed of the following Member States: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

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