SINGAPORE - A photo series capturing Singapore's public spaces during the pandemic and an infographic exposing the hideouts of suspected illegal immigrants here were among some of The Straits Times' most memorable stories last year.
They also won awards at the Best of Print News Design competition, a global contest known as the design Oscars of the media industry.
For those two works, as well as another infographic on the architectural elements of the Tokyo National Stadium, ST took home three awards of excellence this year.
The awards, which are organised by the Society for News Design (SND), were announced on its website on Wednesday (May 12).
Winners were selected by 27 judges around the world who reviewed more than 3,200 entries across 11 categories. This year, a total of five gold medals, 59 silver medals, one judges' special recognition and 873 awards of excellence were awarded by the SND.
The awards of excellence ST received honour "daring and innovative" work, said SND, which also recognised entries from other publications such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Even as Singapore went into a circuit breaker last year as community cases soared, a team of photographers led by ST photo editor Stephanie Yeow, 50, documented how public spaces in the Republic were transformed during this unprecedented period.
In their photo series X Marks the Spot, seating areas in malls, void decks and hawker centres can be seen marked with a cross, as part of safe management measures which remain in place almost a year after the photos were published.
"While there was the risk of being exposed to the virus, this is a significant moment in history," she said.
The same unwavering commitment to their work was shown by the team of four journalists and editors who worked on the graphic - 'Highway' to leafy hideout - which also won an award of excellence.
Senior correspondent Zaihan Mohamed Yusof, 50, and executive photographer Ng Sor Luan, 42, navigated treacherous terrain, including a two-storey high slope and an underground network of drains, in order to find the hideout of suspected illegal immigrants living in the forested areas of Bukit Panjang.
Based on their observations, their colleagues, Mr Lee Hup Kheng, 57, and Mr Bryandt Lyn, 34, put together an infographic inviting readers to follow the hidden trail.
It was no mean feat pulling it off for Mr Lee, who is The Straits Times' art editor.
To create a 3D illustration of the hideout, he spent hours watching footage taken by his colleagues and referred to Google Maps, in order to situate it in relation to other landmarks.
The same resourcefulness helped him and Mr Billy Ker, 33, win an award for another infographic, Stadium in the Forest, which looked at how the Tokyo National Stadium was revamped ahead of the Olympics scheduled to take place in Japan this year.
"We are honoured to receive these prestigious awards which earns ST a rank amongst the giants of print news graphics. We would like to dedicate our wins to the late Peter Williams, our mentor, colleague and friend," said Mr Lee.
Mr Williams, who was ST art editor before Mr Lee, died of gastrointestinal complications in February, at age 48.
Said Mr Warren Fernandez, Straits Times editor and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English, Malay and Tamil Media group: "We know our audiences want the news presented not only in words, but also engaging visuals, videos, graphics and interactives. Our newsroom has been gearing up to do just that. These awards will galvanise our team to keep pushing ahead with these efforts."