SINGAPORE - The Straits Times clinched a regional media award on Tuesday, in a nod to its strategy of reaching out to the fast-growing mobile readership.
The newspaper won bronze in the “Best Mobile Service” category at the 2014 Asian Digital Media Awards for its two newsletters on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in July. Hong Kong's Apple Daily won gold and its Taiwan branch picked up silver in the same category.
The annual award ceremony, organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), was held at Orchard Hotel. In its fifth year, it attracted 158 entries from 16 countries and territories this year. The award-winning newsletters were sent to readers who subscribed to The Straits Times’ free e-mail newsletter service. The newsletters - the first of which was sent a day after the MH17 crash - were aimed at helping readers make sense of the shocking tragedy, without having to trawl through numerous reports. Each newsletter comprised six to eight articles curated by the editorial team, which included the latest updates, explainers and commentaries. The articles addressed key questions, such as why the plane was found in a conflict zone, and the likely political fallout from the incident. Targeted at readers who catch up on news on their smartphones, the design of the newsletters was kept simple and clean for easy surfing, with short headlines and strong visuals. Both newsletters reached a subscriber base of more than 95,000 users. Besides MH17, the paper has also sent out newsletters on other major news events, such as the Singapore Budget. Subscribers of the free e-mail service also receive a daily morning newsletter on the top headlines of the day.
An evening edition newsletter is in the works, as part of the paper’s efforts to bring the latest news to readers on multiple platforms, including print, online, mobile and tablet.According to the recent Nielsen Singapore Media Index Report, 16 per cent of the adult population here read digital newspapers on a mobile device – whether once a week or daily – up from 12 per cent a year ago, and 7 per cent in 2012.At the ceremony, awards were given out for seven other categories. The Age from Australia won gold for best news website, and Hong Kong's South China Morning Post clinched silver for best tablet publishing, among others.The award ceremony was held in conjunction with the Digital Media Asia conference which discussed global trends in the media industry, and challenges faced by newspapers making the transition to digital.Topics discussed on day one of the four-day event ranged from delivering news on mobile devices to reaching out to a younger audience via chat apps.Mr Cassian Cheung, group chief executive of Next Media which publishes Hong Kong’s Apple Daily, shared with the audience the news organisation's strategy to better connect with their readers through the coverage of the pro-democracy protests which brought the city to a standstill in recent months.Delivering news on the smartphone app was key to its strategy with a majority of Apple Daily's readers in the 18-34 age group. Efforts include streaming live dramatic footage of the protests and inviting readers to submit photos and videos via social media. Its coverage of the protests led to a 25 per cent surge in Facebook fans which hit 1.24 million.
Another speaker, Mr Robb Montgomery who heads his own media consultancy firm, gave tips on how journalists could leverage on technology and apps to produce their own videos.
Mr J.V. Rufino, director of mobile and books at Philippine Daily Inquirer, touched on how the newspaper uses chat apps such as WhatsApp and Kakao to send news alerts to reach out to younger readers.