Jump in ST readership for general election

Party leaders - (from left photo) People's Action Party's Ng Eng Hen, Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang and Singapore Democratic Party's Chee Soon Juan (in khaki shirt) - and supporters of all stripes turned to The Straits Times for the latest news on
Party leaders - People's Action Party's Ng Eng Hen (above), Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang and Singapore Democratic Party's Chee Soon Juan (in khaki shirt) - and supporters of all stripes turned to The Straits Times for the latest news on the campaign during the recent general election.LIANHE ZAOBAO, ST FILE PHOTOS
Party leaders - (from left photo) People's Action Party's Ng Eng Hen, Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang and Singapore Democratic Party's Chee Soon Juan (in khaki shirt) - and supporters of all stripes turned to The Straits Times for the latest news on
Party leaders - People's Action Party's Ng Eng Hen, Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang (above) and Singapore Democratic Party's Chee Soon Juan (in khaki shirt) - and supporters of all stripes turned to The Straits Times for the latest news on the campaign during the recent general election.LIANHE ZAOBAO, ST FILE PHOTOS
Party leaders - (from left photo) People's Action Party's Ng Eng Hen, Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang and Singapore Democratic Party's Chee Soon Juan (in khaki shirt) - and supporters of all stripes turned to The Straits Times for the latest news on
Party leaders - People's Action Party's Ng Eng Hen, Workers' Party's Low Thia Khiang and Singapore Democratic Party's Chee Soon Juan (above, in khaki shirt) - and supporters of all stripes turned to The Straits Times for the latest news on the campaign during the recent general election.LIANHE ZAOBAO, ST FILE PHOTOS

The Straits Times saw a big jump in readership during the 2015 General Election, with a spike in online traffic and the number of print copies sold.

From delivering live results online to in-depth commentaries in print, ST covered the biggest political event of the year on multiple platforms.

Said Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez: "We knew we had to cover this election differently from previous ones, given the changes in readers' needs.

"We set out to do this across platforms, playing to our strengths in terms of having seasoned political commentators interpreting developments through the campaign."

Close to 3.5 million unique users visited the website from Sept 1 to 12.

Online traffic to ST website www.straitstimes.com during the period surged to 20.4 million page views - more than 80 per cent higher than the usual traffic for the same period in earlier months.

The website peaked at nearly 5.1 million page views - more than three times the usual daily traffic - on Sept 12, the day after Polling Day.

There was also a surge in social media traffic, with ST's Facebook and Twitter accounts gaining 15,000 and 12,000 more followers respectively.

One challenge of covering the election was delivering the news to readers in a timely, yet reliable manner.

A key feature was the ST live blog, which captured instant updates from the team of reporters on the ground through stories, pictures and videos.

Readers were also able to watch live video streams of rallies on the ST website.

On Polling Day, a live vote tally on the site kept readers updated on the latest results.

Apart from stories and commentaries, ST also launched a new video series - Take 5 With Arnold - anchored by Kiss92FM's Arnold Gay.

The series, which featured Mr Gay discussing hot topics of the day with ST journalists, was well-received, with each clip chalking up a few thousand views.

As for the newspaper, an additional 3,000 to 5,000 copies were sold each day during the campaign period.

The regular edition on Sept 12 racked up an additional 11,000 copies in street sales. A special GE edition, which was available from 10am, added 50,000 copies to ST's regular Saturday sales.

Said Mr Fernandez: "We wanted to give readers all the information they needed to decide for themselves who they supported. We wanted to do this quickly, but also in an accurate, fair and balanced way.

"The numbers speak for themselves. We are happy that we not only held on to our audience, but grew it. Many readers also said they appreciated our balanced coverage of all sides."

To sum up ST's election coverage, an e-book - Singapore's Jubilee Election: What Were Voters Really Saying? - was launched last Saturday. It looks at the reasons for the vote swing towards the People's Action Party and recaps the highlights of the election through essays, pictures and videos.

The e-book can be downloaded free on iPad and Android tablets at http://str.sg/ebooks

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2015, with the headline 'Jump in ST readership for general election'. Print Edition | Subscribe