ST's Invisible Asia video series, visuals shine at Inma Global Media Awards

The Straits Times' multimedia series Invisible Asia chronicles the plight of little-seen and little-talked-about people around the region. PHOTOS: ST DIGITAL

SINGAPORE - The Straits Times and its publisher SPH Media Trust (SMT) bagged several awards in the annual International News Media Association (INMA) Global Media Awards on Thursday (June 9).

ST's Invisible Asia series won second place under the national brands category for best use of video, while American media company Insider, previously known as Business Insider, took first place for its video coverage of the US Capitol riot.

The weekly series by ST's correspondents had feature stories, videos and podcasts on people and communities in the region who have been silently living their lives without a platform to speak out.

The passion project aimed to shed light on the people's struggles by sharing their personal stories, and making them "visible" across ST's multiple platforms.

One of the features focused on Japan's ostracised "untouchable" burakumin community, who are descendants of a shunned caste.

The package by ST's Japan correspondent Walter Sim included a four-minute video with on-camera interviews with members of the burakumin community and portrayed the ongoing prejudices they face, including online harassment.

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Another feature highlighted the plight of a migrant worker working in China and the lack of work and financial security he faces daily.

ST's China correspondent Danson Cheong included a four-minute video of an on-camera interview with the migrant worker and displayed the struggles of labourers and the multiple issues and risks they face.

The videos in the series garnered over 491,000 views in total and about 92,000 page views on average. The series also won an Eppy award, beating CNN and The Boston Globe for best investigative/ enterprise video, along with winning accolades from readers.

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In the national brand category for best use of visual journalism and storytelling tools, ST received an honourable mention for a selection of four stories that focused on visual storytelling across multimedia platforms.

USA Today Network, Argentina's La Nacion and Spain's won first, second and third place respectively.

One of the stories in ST's entry was an animated illustration of 21 major news events of 2021, with an accompanying print graphic. The story depicted international events from the Jan 6 attack of the US Capitol building and the Feb 1 arrest of Myanmar's then leader Aung San Suu Kyi to the Oct 31 opening of 26th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP26) in Glasgow and the first virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping on Nov 15.

Local political events were also depicted, such as when Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat stepped down as the People's Action Party's fourth-generation leader on April 8 and when former Sengkang GRC MP Raeesah Khan admitted on Nov 1 that she had lied in Parliament.

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Sporting achievements were also celebrated, including paralympian Yip Pin Xiu's two gold medals on Sept 2 and badminton player Loh Kean Yew being crowned world champion on Dec 19.

Another story in the selection was a four-part comic strip about the impact of climate change, which was also animated for ST's mobile platform in the form of Instagram-like "stories". These comics explained global warming, the effects it has, why some countries and people struggle to adapt to a hotter world and why COP26 is important.

ST also included a print graphic and stop-motion animation of the DC Comics character Wonder Woman's costumes through her 80-year history. The print graphic traced 80 major costume changes from the character's first comic appearance in 1941 through her various incarnations in TV shows, cartoons, movies and games. The animation involved painstakingly cutting out pieces of coloured paper and assembling them for a photoshoot. The project took the artist and animator about a month to complete.

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The final inclusion was a look back at how the Jemaah Islamiah terror network in Singapore was uncovered through a package consisting of an article, print graphic, animation and video. The graphic and animation depicted one Singaporean's journey from being radicalised and meeting Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden to plotting an attack on Singaporean soil and getting arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act.

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ST also won third place in the national brand category for best product iteration, in recognition of its approach to gamify its reading experience to improve engagement and build readers' habits over time.

Norway's Aftenposten took first place in this category while South Africa's Netwerk24 took second place.

ST's initiative offered readers rewards for reading a certain number of articles a day. This was based on observation of other products that rely on repeated user behaviour, such as social media and health promotion apps.

Meanwhile, SMT won first place in the group category for best subscription niche product, for Shop by SPH. The loyalty programme offers subscribers special deals on various products like wine and household appliances, while SMT earns commission revenue for sales generated.

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