October 20, 2023
SINGAPORE – The Straits Times won the overall gold for best news website at the 15th edition of the Digital Media Awards Asia on Thursday.
Released for World Alzheimer’s Day 2022, the project was a cross-desk collaboration that sought to change narratives about dementia, and highlighted both the positive and negative sides of the illness.
It also sought to help readers understand what it is like living with dementia, from the perspective of patients, caregivers, advocates and policymakers.
“It was important for us to ensure that people with dementia were represented and had a voice,” said ST Life correspondent Akshita Nanda, who was one of the project leads.
“We had to identify persons with dementia, and caregivers who were willing to speak openly about this condition, which is still taboo and shameful for many.
“We wanted to highlight not only the excellent work being done on the ground to support persons with dementia and their caregivers, but also just how much more support is still needed,” said Ms Nanda, who thanked the families and people with dementia for generously giving their time and opening up their homes and hearts to the team.
Organised by the World Association of News Publishers (Wan-Ifra), the awards, which were given out at a ceremony at Orchard Hotel, recognise publishers that have adopted digital media and mobile strategies in response to how people consume news and information.
ST also clinched the silver in the best data visualisation category for the same project at the awards.
It used photogrammetry, a technique to obtain 3D digital models by taking overlapping photographs of an object or area, to explore the inside of a home and how its set-up can help a person with dementia live longer with the illness.
The project featured a seamless, real-life to 3D transition for exploring Singapore’s first dementia-friendly neighbourhood.
ST’s data visualisation editor Rebecca Pazos said she wanted to be part of something that changed the narratives around dementia – a story that could show both the light and dark sides of the diagnosis – as she had lost her grandfather to dementia just before they started on the project.
“We were able to visually showcase Singapore’s kampung spirit in modern times – the banding together of communities to tackle dementia together with love, laughter and hope,” said Ms Pazos.
The project took eight months, and involved colleagues from the photo desk, video team, 3D designers and developers to make sure all the visual pieces would be functional on both desktop and mobile devices.
The impact of the feature extended to the community when the two dementia advocates featured in the project – Ms Alison Lim and Mr Anjang Rosli – were nominated for the ST Singaporean of the Year 2022 Award.
“Our package highlights an important social issue in Singapore that doesn’t get the limelight very often… I think (the win) shows how far our stories can travel, if done well and right,” said digital graphics journalist Charlene Chua.
ST also clinched the joint silver in the best newsletter category for HeadSTart (How to get a head start on your career), which was conceptualised to expose a young audience to career and investment advice. Mirakle Letter, a project by South Korea’s Maeil Business News, clinched the other joint silver.
Launched in May 2022, ST’s newsletter is sent out on Mondays to provide readers with useful information for the start of the work week, such as purchasing their first property, preparing for retirement and where to find value-for-money meals.
“The entire product – from content to design – was created to help young working adults navigate a rapidly changing career landscape,” said Ms Ong Hwee Hwee, ST associate editor for product and audience growth.
“For example, the askST Jobs column in the newsletter addresses pertinent issues such as whether you should declare your use of ChatGPT at work.
“The healthy growth in readership shows that young audiences do consume news and content – if it is told in a way that is engaging and relevant to them,” added Ms Ong.
SPH Media Trust’s Chinese media arm also bagged silver for best in audience engagement for The National Chinese Challenge 10th Anniversary Online Game.
Awards for nine categories were given out on Thursday, with winners including Singapore’s Mediacorp (Best Use of Online Video) and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (Best Data Visualisation, Best Newsletter).
ST editor Jaime Ho said: “Such awards are always welcome affirmation of the work, and especially the less visible but still ground-breaking work that is done by journalists every single day.
“We do, however, want to use this opportunity to also thank each reader who has seen these stories and the rest of our content. The Straits Times will continue to do better.”