As media organisations grapple with major changes in how people consume news, The Straits Times was recognised yesterday for its efforts to engage a younger audience online and explore innovative ways to tell stories.
ST won five awards at the 10th edition of the Asian Digital Media Awards. The flagship title of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) bagged two golds, two silvers and one bronze at the award ceremony, 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 was News Challenge, a current affairs quiz on ST's Instagram account that tests how well informed users are of news.
Launched in May, the weekly quiz is designed in a fun, interactive format. It has helped grow ST's Instagram account, which saw its follower base increase by more than 60 per cent this year to 230,000.
1. BEST IN SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT – GOLD AWARD
Instagram: News Challenge
2. BEST PAID CONTENT STRATEGY (INCLUDING PAY WALL, MEMBERSHIP OR CROWD FUNDING MODELS) – GOLD AWARD
A machine learning-enabled personalised experience for audience engagement and subscriptions
3. BEST IN LIFESTYLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT WEBSITE OR MOBILE SERVICES – SILVER AWARD
War on waste: The dirty (brown) secret about e-commerce
4. BEST DIGITAL PROJECT TO ENGAGE YOUNGER AND/OR MILLENNIAL AUDIENCES – SILVER AWARD
ST & BT Podcasts reach younger audiences
5. BEST IN SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT – BRONZE AWARD
Where’s Merly? A National Day game challenge for Singaporeans
6. BEST PAID CONTENT STRATEGY (INCLUDING PAY WALL, MEMBERSHIP OR CROWD FUNDING MODELS) – BRONZE AWARD
SPH News Tablet
7. BEST DIGITAL NEWS START-UP – GOLD AWARD
Garage by The Business Times
SERVING READERS WELL
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.
ST EDITOR WARREN FERNANDEZ, who is also editor-in-chief of SPH's English/Malay/Tamil Media Group.
Winning the bronze award in the same category was another ST project, Where's Merly? A National Day game challenge for Singaporeans. In this interactive game created to mark Singapore's 53rd birthday last year, users could test their eye for detail by spotting 53 items hidden in an illustration of a crowd watching the National Day Parade. They could 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.
It allows readers to follow news and updates on topics that matter to them, in the form of targeted reads and videos. The tool is also used on the websites of two other SPH titles, The Business Times and 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", uses a novel approach to highlight this issue. Readers are able to unbox a parcel virtually to get a visual breakdown of the packaging waste generated by the online shopping industry. 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 that range from financial advice to lifestyle trends. They 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."
BT also won gold in the Best Digital News Start-up category for Garage, an online portal on the region's start-up landscape.
SPH bagged a bronze award in the Best Paid Content Strategy category for a news tablet app that provides Chinese newspaper readers with a seamless no-login and auto-update digital experience.
Other winners include Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, Indonesia's Kompas daily newspaper and Reuters.