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SPH's awards for its English and Malay papers recognise coverage of last year's tragedies - Sars outbreak and terrorism
The Straits Times
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
By Goh Chin Lian
They were the biggest stories of last year - terrorism and Sars - and The Straits Times' coverage of the twin threats led it to a near clean sweep of the annual awards in the Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH) stable of English and Malay newspapers.
ST's Indonesia bureau chief Derwin Pereira, 37, bagged the Story of the Year for his article on July 31 warning of an impending terrorist strike in the Indonesian archipelago.
From the Sars outbreak, the journalists and artists in the broadsheet netted awards for feature, infographics and illustration of the year.
In all, nine of the 12 awards handed out yesterday went to ST, including the Young Journalist of the Year.
Mr Peh Shing Huei, 28, a sports reporter, broke The New Paper's three-year run to bag the award. He put his win down to his passion for writing about sports.
While the rookie reporter has spent a little more than a year in ST, veteran journalist Pereira found that his two-year-long effort to cultivate a Muslim activist in West Sumatra had paid off.
Five days after his article was published, a truck bomb tore through the five-star JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.
'It was tragically accurate,' said Mr Pereira, who has been reporting from Indonesia since 1997.
Last year, he took the Feature of the Year award for another terrorism scoop: He exposed Al-Qaeda's presence in Indonesia.
Every January, a committee of editors from The Straits Times, The Business Times, The New Paper and Berita Harian will pick what they consider are the prize-winning works of journalists, artists and photographers.
The New Paper took three awards: for feature picture, page design layout and a special award for its coverage of the Iraq war.
Said ST editor Han Fook Kwang: 'It feels like we've just won the treble at the English Premier League.'
But the ST, he said, still had some way to go. 'We're improving every year. We've a young, enterprising newsroom which wants the ST to go places, and that's the most rewarding thing for me.'
The work of the winners was a manifestation of the values that guide a newspaper: passion, professionalism and editorial integrity.
These three attributes, said Mr Cheong Yip Seng, editor-in-chief of SPH's English and Malay Newspapers Division, would help ensure a newspaper gave readers and advertisers value.
Despite the rise in newspapers' cover price last month, they lost far fewer sales than expected. 'This shows that people are prepared to pay for value,' he said.
The battle for every newspaper in the world now is to win even more younger readers, he said at the ceremony at SPH's News Centre in Toa Payoh North.
It can be done. The evidence: The extra 8,000 copies of The Sunday Times sold each weekend since its revamp last September.
Date Posted: 2/11/2004
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