Asian Digital Media Awards 2017: Winning works by The Straits Times

(Back row, from left) Stomp editor Azhar Kasman; Chew V Ming, deputy head of digital strategy for EMTM Group; and Eugene Leow, head of digital strategy for EMTM Group. (Front row, from left) ST digital editor Ong Hwee Hwee and Lianhe Zaobao associate
(Back row, from left) Stomp editor Azhar Kasman; Chew V Ming, deputy head of digital strategy for EMTM Group; and Eugene Leow, head of digital strategy for EMTM Group. (Front row, from left) ST digital editor Ong Hwee Hwee and Lianhe Zaobao associate editor Han Yong May.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - The Straits Times bagged eight awards at the 8th Asian Digital Media Awards, including for best online video, best news mobile service and best innovation.

Singapore Press Holdings' flagship paper won four silvers and four bronzes at the awards at Orchard Hotel on Wednesday (Nov 1).

There were 185 entries from 29 media companies in nine countries at this year's edition of the awards, which was jointly organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra) and Google.

Here is a closer look at ST's wins.

1. Best in Lifestyle, Sports or Entertainment Website - silver award

Gold: Joseph Schooling's Road to Rio

When Joseph Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold on Aug 13 last year, it was a moment of glory for the entire nation.

This cross-media project tracks his journey to Rio, with generous use of visuals and an interactive graphic that analyses his winning swim frame by frame and stroke by stroke.

The Straits Times news editor Marc Lim, who oversaw the 2016 Olympic coverage, said Schooling's Olympic gold is "something that will be talked about for generations to come".

"It was epic. And we felt it was only right to give it everything we got, devoting resources both in Rio and Singapore, working overnight to give our readers a comprehensive account of Joseph's road to glory," he said. "It was a joy to see history being made and capture it for our readers."

2. Best Digital Advertising Campaign - silver award

The anatomy of cancer

This comprehensive presentation of the various types of cancer was executed differently from the usual text layout - visitors are greeted with 3D figures of a male and female body.

The interactive bodies, which can be rotated and clicked on to reveal different cancer, were built and coded from scratch.

The project was part of a content marketing campaign for Parkway Cancer Centre, and was the first time such a graphic was conceptualised as part of a native advertising campaign.

Mr Rodolfo Pazos, the senior creative director of infographics at ST Digital, said his team spent a few months working on the project to make sure the 3D interaction worked as fluidly on a mobile interface as it did on a desktop browser.

"Winning this award is great validation for our team to know the effort put into creating new story forms is worth it," he said.

3. Best Lifestyle, Sports or Entertainment Mobile Services - silver award

South-east Asia's brightest hopes


This feature, which delved into the stories of Olympic medal hopefuls from around South-east Asia, was a cross-media effort that drew on the strengths of ST's full-time bureaus and regional correspondents.

On top of the stories that tracked the ambitions of six athletes, the content was optimised for viewing on not just desktops, but also tablets and smartphones.

ST news editor Marc Lim, who led the 2016 Olympic coverage, said ST "has always prided itself on being a paper not only for Singapore, but also for the region".

"With bureaus around Asean, the challenge at the Rio Olympics was to do something different and profile six of South-east Asia's brightest Olympic hopes," he said.

"The challenge was made even greater given that Asean nations came back without a gold at the 2012 Games. But at the end of the Rio Games, the region's athletes won five golds, with four of the six profiled getting on the podium. It was satisfying to see the athletes' hard work pay off and how their individual triumphs brought so much joy back home."

4. Best News Mobile Service - silver award

The Straits Times Apps

ST's mobile apps, available for Apple and Android, draw more than 197,000 and 67,000 unique visitors respectively each month.

There are more than 40 million page views on iOS and more than 12 million page views on Android systems monthly.

The enhanced apps, which were released in June last year, are works in progress with regular updates.

The latest one provides more reader-friendly app notifications with a smoother experience and faster loading for readers as news alerts now open to articles in the app.

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5. Best Use of Online Video - bronze award

Are you future ready?

Singapore's push to be a smart nation, where technology makes life easier for Singaporeans, has been well-documented.

But ST took it a step further with this virtual reality project, which takes users on a trip of the nation's vision in a mini game with a drone that users can control.

Said interactive graphics journalist Rebecca Pazos, who led the digital team behind the game: "Our team has been experimenting with 3D for a while and toying with the idea of gamifying content. The futuristic tone of Smart Nation presented us with a fun opportunity to try out both, for something our readers won't expect but hopefully can enjoy."

6. Best News Mobile Service - bronze award

All the Queen's men and women

The fall of South Korea's first woman president Park Geun Hye was a sombre topic - but ST wanted to tell it like a Korean drama in a fast-paced style to appeal to millennials.

On top of this, it was shaped specifically for the mobile reader.

"We wanted to tell the extraordinary story of deposed South Korean President Park Geun Hye - at once a victim, villain, dutiful daughter, inept ruler - in a format that would be as gripping as its subject matter, yet sticking to journalistic norms," said ST Foreign Desk copytaster Lee Seok Hwai.

"That means dramatising the story without departing from the facts, and using such devices as flashbacks and third-person narratives."

The project, which features plenty of visuals and cartoons, was styled after a "palace intrigue" theme that called to mind period K-dramas.

7. Best Lifestyle, Sports or Entertainment Mobile Services - bronze award

Christmas in the City in 360

This visual guide to the sparkling sights in Orchard Road and other scenic spots was created to give readers an immersive look at the festive decor.

It was a technical feat as it was the first time ST provided a 360-degree player for the video which worked across all browsers, including Safari.

It was achieved with multiple coding languages and after several tries.

Web developer at ST Digital Kao Chih Hui said the team used map visualisation to indicate the various locations that featured Christmas decorations.

"The 360 video also gave a preview for users who wanted a sneak peek at the atmosphere," she said. "We hope they were intrigued and went down to enjoy the sights after viewing our graphics."

8. Best Innovation New Product - bronze award

The Straits Times… coming to you from your smart home gadget

Smart home and office devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home represent new ways to reach readers.

ST adopted these platforms early in its bid to be present and available to new and upcoming audiences before the gadgets become mainstream.

For example, you could ask Google Home for the latest news by saying: "Ok Google, talk to Straits Times." Or get ST's daily round-up of top news on Amazon Echo by simply asking: "Alexa, ask ST for News in a Minute."

Said ST digital editor Ong Hwee Hwee: "Voice-activated technology is touted as the next big thing. It is an area with good potential even though smart devices like Amazon Echo which have yet to take off in a big way here.

"For us, it is a new exciting way of telling a story. We already do it with text, visuals, digital graphics - and now there's voice."

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