IN ITS 170 years, The Straits Times has been helmed by more than two dozen editors, some of whom are featured here. They set the direction and tone of news coverage and influenced public opinion. In doing so, they also left behind an imprint that lingers in newsroom traditions and even street names.
Alexander William Still:The Straits Times became known as the "Thunderer of the East" under Still, who fearlessly criticised big businesses to get them to improve conditions for workers in the rubber and plantation industries. His forthright commentaries involved The Straits Times in several commercial libel suits. But they also boosted circulation, advertising revenue and the newspaper's reputation. His name lives on in Still Road, which connects Changi Road to East Coast Road.
Robert Carr Woods: The Straits Times first editor arrived in Singapore from Bombay in 1845 at age 29. Known for his flamboyant manner, he was the force behind the campaign for transferring control of the Straits Settlements from India to London. It was realised in 1867. An avid gardener, he promoted the planting of trees along roads and helped beautify sites like the grounds of St Andrew's Cathedral. Woodsville Close is named after his former home.
Arnot Reid:The first Fleet Street journalist in Singapore, he was only 25 when appointed editor in 1888. He believed a newspaper's main function was to report the news rather than influence how the government should be run. Under him, The Straits Times reported in full the proceedings of legislative and municipal councils and became a newspaper of record.
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George William Seabridge:He urged the colonial government to spend surpluses to help retain jobs and people's purchasing power as the Great Depression of the 1930s gripped Singapore. He expanded The Straits Times operations, built a new office and bought state-of-the-art printing machinery plus a fleet of Morris Minor vans to deliver the newspaper upcountry. He hired the first local journalists, including future editors Leslie Hoffman and T. S. Khoo.
Leslie Hoffman:The Straits Times' first Asian editor-in-chief, he was 41 when appointed in 1956. He had a war of words with People's Action Party leader Lee Kuan Yew over the coverage of the 1959 legislative assembly election. Under his leadership, The Straits Times' headquarters was moved from Singapore to Malaya, where it stayed for 14 years.
Khoo Teng Soon:Better known as T. S. Khoo, he was one of Asia's best designers of newspaper pages. He had a knack for picking the most interesting stories and turning text, design, headlines and pictures into a highly readable page in seconds. It earned him the title "The Fastest Pen In The East". Appointed group editor in 1972, he once said his decision to publish a photo of Maria Hertogh was a mistake. Racial riots had erupted in 1950 following the custody battle between Maria's biological and adoptive parents.