SINGAPORE - The Straits Times' website and apps bagged a gold award at this year's Digital Media Awards Asia in the Best News Website or Mobile Service category.
The website, mobile and tablet apps took on a new look in October last year, with a slew of new offerings that focus on multimedia content and trending topics. This revamp was part of ST's continuing efforts to refresh its digital and print products, and was launched to mark its 175th anniversary last year.
ST editor Warren Fernandez said: "2020 was quite a year. Apart from covering the pandemic and a general election in Singapore, we also wanted to do something to mark ST's milestone anniversary that benefited our audience. The new site was part of that effort.
"We have been striving to make progress each year, to serve our growing digital audience well. These awards will encourage all of us in the ST newsroom to keep pushing forward. This has to be a relentless effort to keep serving our community and readers better."
Organised by the World Association of News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), the awards recognise publishers that have adopted digital media and mobile strategies in response to how people consume news and information.
New features include a "Discover" segment for articles with strong visual storytelling elements. Made for reading on mobile devices, Discover stories are presented in a series of bite-sized text, with pictures and videos.
The website and apps have been redesigned to allow time-starved readers to see more stories at a glance. Topics of growing interest and importance, such as stories on jobs and consumer trends amid the Covid-19 pandemic, are now highlighted more prominently.
The gold is among the six awards Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) took home, making the company the biggest winner at the event last week.
SPH's Malay-language daily Berita Harian won a silver award for its translation tool under the Best Project for News Literacy category. The tool, which was launched in June last year, allows readers to instantly translate articles in the newspaper into English.
Mr Fernandez, who is also editor-in-chief of SPH's English/ Malay/Tamil Media Group, added: "We are also glad that the efforts of our Berita Harian team were recognised this year, as we work towards finding new, creative ways to engage the community."
ST also won the silver award in the Best Data Visualisation category, for its interactive graphic - From 1845 to 2020: Singapore And The World Through ST Headlines.
Developed by ST's digital graphics team to mark the title's 175th anniversary last year, the project looked at more than 47,000 ST front-page headlines published since the inaugural edition on July 15, 1845.
The headlines, analysed with the use of an algorithm, are grouped into five major topics: epidemics, foreign affairs, local towns, vice and crimes, and war and peace. Users can also select a date and see what was page one news for that day.
Mr Gaurav Sachdeva, chief product officer at SPH, said ST users wanted a new and more engaging digital experience. "To appeal to them, we designed digital features that not only gamified the reading experience, but also drew inspiration from how people physically consume news," he said.
Clinching the gold award in the Best Native Advertising / Branded Content Campaign category was How To Not Waste Your Annual Leave, which was featured on the ST website and social media channels. The series, conceptualised by Content Lab under SPH's Media Solutions Division, covers ways for Singaporeans to better spend their annual leave here instead of continuing to work at home.
Mr Phin Wong, head of content marketing at SPH, said the branded campaign award reflects Content Lab's philosophy of producing quality branded content that always focuses on the audience. "It is not enough for content to be good - it needs to be relevant and relatable."
SPH's Chinese Media Group won two silvers - in the Best Use of Online Video (including VR), and the Best in Audience Engagement categories. The first was for Cycle With Zaobao, a four-episode video series introducing cycling routes that are off the beaten track.
The other award was for Platoon Thumbs Up, a seven-episode bilingual animation series produced by SPH Chinese Student Publications.
Other winners include international news agency Reuters, digital news portal AsiaOne Online, multinational media company Coconuts Media and the now-closed Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily.
Those that win the gold award will automatically enter Wan-Ifra's World Digital Media Awards, where they will compete with other top winners from regions such as Africa, Europe and Latin America.
Winners of the World Digital Media Awards will be announced at the World News Media Congress later this year.
Gold for refreshed ST website, apps
The Straits Times website and apps, which underwent a revamp last year, won gold at the Asian Digital Media Awards organised by the World Association of News Publishers (Wan-Ifra). Here are the improved features readers can enjoy:
Cleaner, fresher look
Refreshed layout: See more headlines at a glance. Cleaner look, and bolder use of pictures to highlight key stories
New microsites & newsletters: Smart Parenting microsite and newsletter where readers can find all news related to raising children and education in one place.
Dedicated Invest microsite to help readers keep up to speed on money matters.
Richer multimedia content
Discover feature: Explore stories told through strong visuals and videos, made for mobile devices
Interactive graphics: Enjoy immersive storytelling through interactive graphics, augmented reality and data journalism
Podcast: Hear it from ST journalists and experts on issues ranging from health and global affairs, to lifestyle and food picks
More engaging user experience
User-friendly features: Option to browse content in dark mode on app, and better search function
E-paper: Easier access to the digital version of the newspaper, with a two-week archive, exclusive to ST subscribers
Share what you are reading: Subscribers can share ST exclusive stories with family and friends. Digital features that gamify the reading experience