The Straits Times' Communities platform has won a prestigious industry award for its unique interactive brand of microsites that get readers published alongside journalists.
It won the 2014 Digital Innovation of the Year award from Panpa (Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association) in a ceremony held in Sydney on Thursday night. It beat competition from Asia-Pacific media outlets.
ST Communities was conceptualised and started in November 2012 and kicked off with an Entertainment Community, with news and views on movies, music, TV shows and the arts.
In May this year, it introduced an Education Community, with tips on education strategies by senior education correspondent Sandra Davie, stories on education, and blogs on parenting by ST journalists.
The ST Education Community.
This is the second big win for the Communities platform.
The Entertainment Community won a Gold award in the Best in Social Media category at the 2013 Wan-Ifra Asian Digital Media Awards.
ST Communities editor Ernest Luis said the two sites go beyond showcasing stories written by journalists.
"With the Entertainment Community, and now, a new Education Community, readers and community partners get to also share their views, interests and concerns and get published to a wide audience," he said.
The site uses social media sign-ins for readers, which allow them to get published with their names and photographs.
"I'm glad Panpa has recognised the unique concept of ST Communities in what is a very large Asia-Pacific arena of media outlets," he added.
Up next will be a Travel Community which will see journalists, readers and community partners share views and tips on travelling, a big passion among Singaporeans. With key countries getting their own categories on the site, it will also appeal to those wanting to visit Singapore too.
Panpa's Digital Innovation of the Year award looked at a product that champions innovative approaches to journalism and content creation, and the deployment of technologies that allow readers to consume content in new ways. It also has to be a new approach for the company, and in the nominee's market.