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SPH preparing for digital age

SPH English newspapers will continue to transform for the digital age while planning to attract younger readers. -ST

Sun, Feb 17, 2013
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Evidence is emerging that society will take decades, not years, to fully transition from reading print to digital news products.

Notwithstanding this, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has taken steps to thrive in a digital future, said the company's English and Malay Newspapers Division editor-in-chief Patrick Daniel (photo above) on Thursday.

Speaking at the division's annual editorial awards ceremony at SPH's Toa Payoh premises, Mr Daniel cited three overseas reports which have predicted longevity for print newspapers.

This included the global Boston Consulting Group's recent assessment that "in most countries, print media companies continue to have commanding brands and strong consumer relationships".

The Poynter Institute, which teaches journalism, also noted in an article last month that several studies had predicted "an extended economic shelf life for print, even as audiences swing digital and the search for viable digital news products continues".

A third report by the International News Media Association had also painted the future of the news industry as a "print plus digital, hybrid industry".

This is exactly the direction that the SPH division's newspapers have taken, said Mr Daniel.

"For SPH, the bottom line is we have built a successful business model for our print and digital products, both online and mobile. We can and will grow from here," he added.

Mr Daniel noted that The Straits Times is now "a multimedia product: print, online, mobile, video as well as social media, with our staff working together across platforms".

He added: "Later this year, The New Paper will turn 25 and will relaunch as a bold, new multimedia product. It will pioneer yet another new business model: a print plus digital price for newsstand sales."

Touching on charging for content, Mr Daniel said that SPH was among the first media companies in the world to introduce digital paywalls, a practice now increasingly common at newspaper websites in the United States.


He revealed that by the end of the financial year last August, The Straits Times had reached almost 30,000 digital subscriptions, bringing its total average daily circulation for both print and digital editions to a high of 374,000.

The number of digital subscriptions has more than doubled since then, he added.

Last month, The Straits Times' website and AsiaOne also hit record page views of 85 million and 66 million respectively.

Mr Daniel said the division will continue to transform for the digital age and plans to attract younger readers to its newspapers.

To do so, it will have "the right blend of youth and experience in our newsrooms, both digital natives and print junkies", he said.

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