The Straits Times bags 11 awards at SPH's annual newspaper prize ceremony

SINGAPORE - The Straits Times won 11 awards at Singapore Press Holdings' annual English/Malay/Tamil Media (EMTM) group awards ceremony on Wednesday. A total of 19 awards in 17 categories were given out.

The newspaper's senior manpower correspondent Toh Yong Chuan was the first person in the history of the group's annual awards to score a hat trick in the same year.

As well as being named Journalist of the Year, he won Feature of the Year for a piece which saw him step into the shoes of a Singapore taxi driver for 11 days.

He also shared the Story of the Year award with Ms Carolyn Khew, who now reports on science and environment issues, for their story on the former China tour guide Yang Yin who allegedly misappropriated $1.1 million from a wealthy widow.

The Straits Times also won the Feature Picture of the Year prize with photojournalist Kevin Lim's photograph that accompanied the story "She loves me like a rock", which profiled a former drug addict and how his mother's love and devotion made him turn over a new leaf.

The Commentary/Analysis of the Year went to senior health correspondent Salma Khalik for her commentary on how the Singapore Medical Council has a public duty to ensure that errant doctors are not let off too lightly, even as it looks after doctors' interests.

The Straits Times also swept the multimedia awards, including the Best Cross Media Story of the Year for its online special Ocean's Fury - on the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Photojournalists Alphonsus Chern and Caroline Chia won the Best Video of the Year for their eight-minute feature documentary on the Singapore Navy combat divers' 'Hell Week' training.

The New Paper clinched four awards - Young Journalist of the Year, News Picture of the Year, Illustration of the Year and Layout/Page Design of the Year.

The Business Times took a special award for excellence in enterprise and the Infographic of the Year, while Berita Harian won a special award for excellence in teamwork, and the Headline of the Year.

In a speech at the event, Mr Patrick Daniel, editor-in-chief of the EMTM Group, said that its newspapers, led by The Straits Times, received positive feedback from readers on the recent coverage of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death.

He said that sales and readership numbers rose for both print and online editions of The Straits Times during the week of national mourning for the late Mr Lee. E-books such as Lee Kuan Yew: The Man And His Ideas, which contains excerpts from the original 1997 book written by ST journalists, had a record number of 120,000 downloads.

Mr Daniel noted overall that the year 2014 "saw the print circulation of our papers fall further but happily this was more than offset by our paid digital subscriptions".

"So while print and digital news products will be our core business, we want to aggressively develop media adjacencies to augment our revenues and profits. The idea is the more profits we bring in, the less cost cuts we have to make," he added.