In 1996, when we were planning a conference that would examine information flows in Southeast Asia, the phrase ‘economic crisis’ was not yet synonymous with the region. The Asian tigers were still roaring and not yet in distress. The waves of democratisation that swept Indonesia in May 1998 and the street protests that took place in Malaysia later that year were then unimaginable. How things have changed since then! In many countries in the region, old truths have been turned inside out, and if there is a consensus that seems to have emerged, it is that old ideas have to be re-considered. By the time we held a conference and gathered 30 Southeast Asian journalists at the Subic Freeport in the Philippines in October 1998, such notions as transparency, freedom of speech and access to information were already being preached as part of the solutions to the Southeast Asian economic malaise.