SINGAPORE - As media organisations grapple with major changes in how people consume news, The Straits Times was on Wednesday (Oct 30) recognised for its efforts to engage a younger audience online and explore innovative ways to tell stories.
ST emerged with five awards at the 10th edition of the Asian Digital Media Awards, including for Social Media Engagement and Best Digital Project to Engage Younger and/or Millennial Audiences.
The flagship title of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) bagged two golds, two silvers and one bronze at the award ceremony, which was held at Hong Kong Ocean Park Marriott Hotel.
Organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), the awards recognise publishers that have adopted digital media and mobile strategies to meet the major changes in how people consume news and information.
Fifteen judges scrutinised 151 entries sent by 24 media companies from 11 countries in Asia.
Clinching the gold award in Social Media Engagement is News Challenge, a current affairs quiz on ST's Instagram account that tests how well-informed users are of local and regional news.
Launched in May this year, the weekly quiz was conceptualised as a fun, interactive way to engage the younger audience. The popular quiz has helped to grow ST's Instagram account, which has seen its follower base increase by more than 60 per cent this year to 230,000.
Competing in the same category and winning the bronze award is another ST project, Where's Merly? A National Day game challenge for Singaporeans. In this interactive game created to mark Singapore's 53rd birthday, users test their eye for detail by spotting 53 items hidden in an illustration of a crowd watching the National Day Parade. Users can then share their results on social media.
ST also emerged top in the Best Paid Content Strategy category, winning the gold award for a machine-learning tool used on its website to customise user experience. With the tool, readers can follow news and updates on topics that matter to them, in the form of targeted reads and videos. The tool is also used on two other websites under SPH - The Business Times and the Chinese-language Lianhe Zaobao.
With more people shopping online, packaging waste has become a concern. ST's interactive graphic, War on waste: The dirty (brown) secret about e-commerce, zoomed in on this issue using a novel approach. Readers are able to unbox a parcel virtually to get a visual breakdown of the packaging waste generated by the booming online shopping industry in today's buy-and-throw-away culture. The project clinched the silver award for Best in Lifestyle, Sports, Entertainment Website or Mobile Services.
ST and BT were also jointly recognised for their efforts to strike a chord with millennial audiences, with their podcast offerings. Users can listen to bite-size news on the go, as well as podcasts on a wide range of topics, from financial advice to lifestyle trends. The two titles won silver for Best Digital Project to Engage Younger and/or Millennial Audiences.
ST editor Warren Fernandez, who is also editor-in-chief of SPH's English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, said: "Ultimately, these awards are about our readers, whom we want to serve well, across all our platforms. Winning these awards shows that we are making good progress as we transform our newsrooms to become more audience-centred, data-driven, multimedia operations.
"We have content that stacks up with the best of our peers in the industry."
Besides the five awards won by ST, BT also won gold in the Best Digital News Start-up category for Garage, an online portal that provides news and analyses about the region's thriving start-up landscape.
SPH bagged a bronze award in the Best Paid Content Strategy category for a news tablet app launched in March that provides Chinese newspaper readers with a seamless no-login and auto-update digital experience.
Other winners at the event include Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, Indonesia's Kompas Daily Newspaper and Reuters.
The gold award winners will compete with other top winners from the rest of the world at the Wan-Ifra's World Digital Media Awards to be held in Spain in June next year.