SINGAPORE - The Straits Times' Indonesian bureau chief Francis Chan was on his way to work last January (2016) when four Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists laid siege in downtown Jakarta. He was among the first journalists to arrive at the scene of the attack, witnessing its final moments as police arrived.
Mr Chan and his colleagues' comprehensive coverage of Indonesia's first major attack in seven years was one of two big news events last year that earned ST accolades at this year's Asian Media Awards.
ST, which is the flagship title of Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH), picked up the most awards at Wednesday's (April 19) event in Kuala Lumpur with seven in all, including golds for breaking news article, newspaper overall design and front page design.
The awards, organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), drew over 400 entries from more than 50 media companies across Asia, including newspapers such as Hong Kong's South China Morning Post and Malaysia's The New Straits Times.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was the guest of honour at the gala dinner at Le Meridien Hotel, where he condemned fake news and reiterated the theme of the three-day Publish Asia conference: Strengthening Print in the Digital Era .
Mr Warren Fernandez, ST editor and editor-in-chief of SPH' English, Malay and Tamil Media Group, said: "We are very honoured by these awards from a world association of our peers in the journalistic field.
"They are recognition of our efforts to deliver quality journalism even as we transform our newsrooms in response to the digital disruption in our industry. Our aim is to meet our readers' needs for the latest news presented in new ways that they value and enjoy."
Another momentous event last year was local swimmer Joseph Schooling's record-setting win at the Rio Olympics, which marked Singapore's first Olympic gold.
ST earned its own gold for newspaper front page design for capturing the historic win with a picture of Schooling's moment of victory splashed across the page accompanied by the eye-grabbing headline: "GOLD".
The paper, which was redesigned in 2015, also won gold for overall design.
Night editor Paul Cheong, who designed the award-winning cover, said: "Our design gave us the chance to show the significance of the event in Singapore's history. It was a big night and the excellent team in the newsroom pulled out all the stops to get the news out to readers and explain its impact in an arresting and visual way."
A series of stories on industry disruptors in Singapore's context also snagged ST a bronze for newspaper feature article.
The team of reporters, artists and designers broke down complex issues such as what the rise of robots means for a labour-abundant country like China and a labour-scarce one like Singapore, and turned them into simple and engaging reads.
The Fast Forward series has been published as a book, Disruption: What Lies Ahead, by the Straits Times Press and is available at leading bookstores.
ST's executive infographics journalist Tien Chung Ping, deputy art director Michael Macaisa Dizon and reporter Audrey Tan clinched bronze for newspaper infographics with their collaboration on the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore's plans to expand the Republic's container-handling capacity, starting with the $3.5 billion expansion of the Pasir Panjang Terminal.
Hand-drawn illustrations and 3-D modelling months in the making complemented the story to break down the reclamation process.
Executive photojournalists Kua Chee Siong and Ong Wee Jin won silver and bronze respectively in the feature photography category.
Mr Kua's heartwarming photos documented a home birth, with access granted by a former newsmaker, while Mr Ong's image of an art installation blurred the lines between art and photography.
SPH won a total of eight awards at the ceremony, including gold in magazine overall design for The Peak Selections: Gourmet and Travel, a publication of The Peak by SPH Magazines.