SINGAPORE - The Straits Times' efforts to engage its young audience online and explore innovative ways of telling a story were recognised yesterday when it emerged the biggest winner at the Asian Digital Media Awards.
The Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) flagship title won nine awards, including two golds for best innovation to engage youth audience, and best lifestyle, sports, entertainment website.
It also bagged three silvers and four bronzes, including an award for producing premium, exclusive content for subscribers.
The annual regional awards, jointly presented by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan-Ifra) and Google, recognise publishers who have adopted the best digital media and mobile strategies. It was held at The Mira hotel in Hong Kong.
For the ninth edition this year, the organisers received 157 entries from 27 media companies across 10 Asian markets. The winners were selected by a panel of 23 judges, mainly from the United States and Europe.
Others honoured included Hong Kong's South China Morning Post which won five awards; Indonesia's Kompas which won three; and Japan's Asahi Shimbun and Singapore's Mediacorp, which picked up two prizes each.
ST's first augmented reality (AR) project, which marries technology and ancient art, won a gold award for best lifestyle, sports, entertainment website.
The project, which showcases artefacts of Asian deities on display at Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum, allows readers to zoom in and rotate the sculptures virtually, giving them a closer look at these precious objects.
The other gold award went to NewsEd, a news portal and app that curate ST content and news articles for students and teachers. It won the top prize for best innovation to engage youth audience.
The programme is part of ST's efforts to reach out to younger readers, by allowing students to engage in news-based learning activities with questions pre-loaded into articles. With the mobile app version, students can even use their mobile devices to record and submit photos, audio clips and videos as answers.
Multimedia project, No One Dies Alone, won silver for best news website. Told through words, photos and videos, it documents the last days of a cancer patient and the volunteers who accompanied him to the end.
ST also won the silver award in social media engagement for its Facebook group, What's Good, which aims to promote positive journalism by encouraging users to share news of good deeds or heartwarming stories.
ST Premium, an initiative launched in February this year to produce exclusive stories, commentaries and features for subscribers, won bronze for reader revenue initiatives.
NewsEd bagged a silver award in the same category.
"This is a big win for our ST readers," said Mr Warren Fernandez, ST editor and the editor-in-chief of SPH's English/Malay/Tamil Media group.
"We have been striving to develop premium content that is multimedia and which can be enjoyed across platforms to serve our readers better. So it is gratifying that we have won awards for innovation, connecting with younger audiences and also new ways of monetising that content.
"For us in the ST newsroom, the awards are an indication of what the newsroom is capable of doing, but they also remind us why we do what we do, namely to serve our readers in new ways that meet their changing needs."
These ST projects won bronze awards:
* Game of $urvival: The interactive budgeting game won for innovation in youth engagement. The game, which was part of ST's coverage for the Government's 2018 Budget, invites readers to pick a character and navigate their financial decisions.
* The ST Asia Report magazine and newsletter, which give readers highlights of ST correspondents' reportage from across the region, won for best digital news start-up. There is also a dedicated Facebook page.
* An integrated marketing series on travelling to Sydney, complete with photos and videos, won in the digital marketing campaign category.
SPH's citizen journalism site Stomp bagged gold for best in social media engagement. It won for its fake-news busting project - Stomp fights fake news - which tears down sometimes viral but fake online rumours.
SPH's Chinese-language publication, Lianhe Zaobao, bagged three awards: silver for best innovation to engage youth audience and best branded content project, and bronze for best in lifestyle, sports, entertainment website or mobile services.
ST won four silvers and four bronzes at the awards last year.