ST wins best newspaper website award at Asian Digital Media Awards
The Straits Times (ST) won the top honours for its newspaper website at the 2012 Asian Digital Media Awards on Wednesday night. The South China Morning Post shared the joint 'Best In Online Media' gold award.
The event, run by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), was held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur with more than 350 participants from the Asia-Pacific region. The Straits Times Online is the website of Singapore's main English daily. It is a hybrid website that offers both free and paid content - where commodity news is free access and proprietary news, available upon subscription.
Over the past few months, ST's print newsroom and online division became integrated, as reporters file stories from the field for breaking news.
When a big news story breaks, or when there's a key announcement, a line or two is sent via SMS (short message system) to ST's subscribers, published on the website (www.straitstimes.com) and posted on ST's social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. When a story with more details is ready within minutes and refreshed on the website, the story link is promoted again on Facebook and Twitter.
Integration benefits readers as stories now reach them faster, and their user experience is more holistic as they are able to see more pictures and videos. One such example is Through The Lens, which features pictures taken by The Straits Times' photographers.
Reader engagement is being improved too. On National Day, ST launched a series of contests to boost reader engagement. The contests, showcased on The Straits Times' Facebook page, invited Singaporeans to submit photographs and captions reflecting a weekly theme, which revolved around Singapore and their love for the country.
Live blogging for key national events - like the National Day Rally - helps satisfy readers on the go. Readers who weren't watching the rally and who could not wait for the speech to be translated into summaries, still had access to the speech in an accurate and timely manner.
Mr Felix Soh, digital media editor, said: "The award is an affirmation of our integration model by an outside, independent panel of judges. The integration of content in The Straits Times Online website is the quality we cited in our entry submission. We showed how the ST Online website integrates Stomp's citizen journalism and RazorTV's multimedia with the news and other visual content on the site. All kudos go to the team for the imagination, creativity and hard work that they invested in the product."
Use of Facebook (facebook.com/thestraitstimes) and Twitter (twitter.com/stcom) has also cemented ST as a major news source on the two most dominant social media platforms, with 180,000 followers on Twitter and 65,000 ‘Likes’ on Facebook. Top referral of traffic to straitstimes.com no longer comes from Google as Facebook has overtaken the search engine.
The Straits Times' online editorial efforts have also won more revenue, making it the most lucrative site in the space of the past 12 months among the company's websites as well as various digital products.
Mr Patrick Daniel, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) English and Malay Newspapers Division, added: "I'm proud of the way our digital strategy has panned out. We first constructed the building blocks separately - a quality news site, a popular citizen journalism site, and an experimental web TV offering. When the time was right, we fused the three into a rich, integrated site. We have rolled it out over various platforms - not just online but on mobile too, and with the right business models. We're pleased it's working out well. We're now gearing up to do even more, especially in the mobile space."
Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) won a gold award in the 'Best In Mobile Media' category for STProperty. It also won awards in the 'Best In Cross Media' category for two projects - STAR 2012 (bronze) and STJobs (silver) respectively.
The company also won a joint-silver award for 'Best In Social Media'. This was for the project 'Social Media Fiesta 2012', created by bilingual site omy.sg.
“The Asian Digital Media Awards once again confirms that the region is a laboratory for innovation for digital news media,” said Mr Thomas Jacob, chief operating officer of Wan-Ifra and managing director of Wan-Ifra Asia Pacific.
He added: “The winning projects demonstrate the many ways in which publishers are seizing the opportunities and responding to the changes in how people consume news and information.”