GARAGE by The Business Times was awarded the Gold for Best Digital News Start-up at the 2019 WAN-IFRA Asian Digital Media Awards on Wednesday.
The awards, presented by WAN-IFRA (the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers) at an awards ceremony in Hong Kong, recognise Asian publishers who have delivered unique and original digital media projects in the last 12 months.
Garage, BT's latest content vertical, brings the paper's speciality - an investor's perspective - to the coverage of startup news and issues, providing readers an in-depth view of the region's startup ecosystem.
Garage covers a broad range of issues, ranging from profiles of promising early-stage startups to funding announcements and Q&As with venture capitalists on interesting bets they have made. It also probes deep into business models.
BT editor Wong Wei Kong said: "There's usually too much unbridled optimism in the reporting of startups and venture capital. Garage is BT knifing through the hype with its brand of hard-nosed business journalism."
It is something the Garage journalists consciously set out to do. One of them, Sharanya Pillai, said: "The startups scene remains vibrant, but investors are also more cautious. We hope to serve our readers well by focusing on startups' financial performance, in the same manner BT would write about any other business."
Her colleague Claudia Chong said: "South-east Asia's startups scene is entering a critical phase of maturity, with more companies now in growth stage. If startups wonder why we're asking all the tough questions, it's because someone needs to do it."
The Garage project team counts not only journalists, but also dedicated product and tech specialists - what Mr Wong described as "a truly integrated team working as one that has been able to create, launch and execute quickly and effectively".
The team hopes to add value by also covering broader trends; for example, it tracks the impact of government policies to grow the ecosystem, how investor appetite is shifting and the implications of startup activity for the broader economy.
BT also featured in two other awards won by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), its publisher. These included a Silver for Best Digital Project to Engage Younger and/or Millennial Audiences, for podcasts produced jointly by BT and The Straits Times. These two dailies have been producing podcasts since March 2018 to expand their range of content offerings focusing on providing useful tips to young listeners.
Additionally, a project for machine learning-enabled personalised experience for audience engagement and subscriptions won Gold in the Best Paid Content Strategy category. ST, BT and Lianhe Zaobao have been using machine-learning tools to deliver personalised customer journeys to increase both audience engagement and subscriptions. Readers can easily follow news and updates on topics that matter to them, in the form of targeted reads and videos.
SPH won seven awards in all - three Gold, two Silver and two Bronze - including a Gold for Best in Social Media Engagement awarded to ST's Instagram News Challenge.
All gold award winners are automatically eligible to participate in the World Digital Media Awards in June next year.