Front page of The Straits Times from 18 May 2012
|Owner(s)||Singapore Press Holdings|
|Founded||15 July 1845|
|Headquarters||1000 Toa Payoh North, News Centre, Singapore, 318994|
352,003 (As of July 2013)|
5,000 (Myanmar edition)
2,500 (Brunei edition)
The Straits Times is an English-language daily broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore currently owned by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). It is the country's highest-selling paper, with a current Sunday Times circulation of nearly 365,800.
Originally established on 15 July 1845 as The Straits Times and Singapore Journal of Commerce, in the early days of British colonial rule, it may be considered the successor to various other newspapers of the time such as the Singapore Chronicle. After Singapore became independent from Malaysia on 9 August 1965, the paper became more focused on the island leading to the creation of the New Straits Times for Malaysian readers.
The Straits Times was started by an Armenian, Catchick Moses. Moses's friend, Martyrose Apcar, had intended to start a local paper, but met with financial difficulties. To fulfil his friend's dream, Moses took over and appointed Robert Carr Woods as editor. On 15 July 1845, The Straits Times was launched as an eight-page weekly, published at 7 Commercial Square using a hand-operated press. The subscription fee then was Sp.$1.75 per month. In September 1846, he sold the paper to Robert Woods because the press proved unprofitable to run.
On 20 February 1942, five days after the British had surrendered to the Japanese, The Straits Times became known as The Shonan Times and The Syonan Shimbun. This name change lasted until 5 September 1945, when Singapore returned to British rule.:240
During the early days of Singaporean self-governance, the paper had an uneasy relationship with some politicians, including the leaders of the People's Action Party. Editors were warned that any reportage that may threaten the merger between the Malayan Federation and Singapore may result in subversion charges, and that they may be detained without trial under the Preservation of Public Security Ordinance Act.
The Straits Times functions with 16 bureaus and special correspondents in major cities worldwide. The paper itself is published in five segments: the main section focuses on Asian and international news, with sub-sections of columns and editorials and the Forum Page (letters to the press). The Home section focuses on local news with 5 weekly sections, Education on Monday, Mind and Body on Tuesday, Digital on Wednesday, Community on Thursday and Science on Friday. The sports and finance pages, are separated into a different section themselves. There is a classified ads and job listing section, followed by a separate lifestyle, Style, entertainment and the arts section that is titled "Life!".
The newspaper also publishes special editions for primary and secondary schools in Singapore. The primary-school version contains a special pull-out, titled "Little Red Dot" and the secondary-school version contains a pull-out titled "In".
Owing to political sensitivities, The Straits Times is not sold in neighboring Malaysia, and the Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times is not sold in Singapore. The ban was imposed before Independence in Malaysia. On 1 January 2005, the governments of both countries discussed lifting the ban with Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew speaking in favour of such a move, although Malaysian politicians were more wary. At one point during a dispute over the sale of water, the newspaper was banned in Malaysia.
A specific Myanmar and Brunei edition of this paper was launched on 25 Mar 2014 and 30 October 2014. It is published daily with local newspaper printers on licence with SPH. This paper is distributed on ministries, businesses, major hotels, airlines, bookshops and supermarkets on major cities and target sales to local and foreign businessmen in both countries. Circulation of the Myanmar edition currently stands at 5,000 and 2,500 for the Brunei edition. The Straits Times is currently the largest circulating international newspaper in Myanmar. The Brunei edition is currently sold at B$1 per copy and an All-in-One Straits Times package consisting of the print edition and full digital access via online, tablets and smartphones, will also be introduced in Brunei.
Launched on 1 January 1994, The Straits Times website was free of charge and granted access to all the sections and articles found in the print edition. On 1 January 2005, the online version began requiring registration and after a short period became a paid-access-only site. Currently, only people who subscribe to the online edition can read all the articles on the Internet, including the frequently updated "Latest News" section.
A free section, featuring a selection of news stories, is currently available at the site. Regular podcast, vodcast and twice-daily--mid-day and evening updates--radio-news bulletins are also available for free online.
The Straits Times's decision to make its online edition almost entirely subscription-funded is in contrast to other traditional newspapers online editions, which often charge only for certain sections, such as archives, or for digital editions.
The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund was initiated on October 1, 1993 by The Straits Times, to heighten public awareness of the plight of children from low-income families who were attending school without proper breakfast, or pocket money to sustain their day in school. The aim is to alleviate the financial burden faced by parents in providing for their children's education. At the same time the funds will help children who are already facing difficulties in remaining in school to stay on.
The Straits Times Media Club is a youth programme to encourage youth readership and interest in news and current affairs. Schools will have to subscribe for at least 500 copies, and will receive their papers every Monday. A youth newspaper, IN, is slotted in together with the main paper for the students.
Chua Chin Hon, then ST's bureau chief for the United States, was quoted as saying that SPH's "editors have all been groomed as pro-government supporters and are careful to ensure that reporting of local events adheres closely to the official line" in a 2009 US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks. Past chairpersons of Singapore Press Holdings have been civil or public servants. Current SPH Chairman Lee Boon Yang is a former PAP cabinet minister who took over from Tony Tan, former Deputy Prime Minister. Many current ST management and senior editors have close links to the government as well. SPH CEO Alan Chan was a former top civil servant and Principal Private Secretary of then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Current editor-in-chief Warren Fernandez was considered as a PAP candidate for the 2006 elections.
|Name||Position(s) in SPH||Years served||Position(s) in public office|
|Before SPH||After SPH|
|S.R. Nathan||Executive chairman of the Straits Times Press/SPH||1982-1988||Perm Sec. Ministry of Foreign Affairs||Ambassador, President of Singapore|
|Lim Kim San||Executive chairman of SPH||1988-2002||Cabinet Minister, Chairman of Port of Singapore Authority|
|Tony Tan||Executive chairman of SPH||2005-2011||Deputy Prime Minister||President of Singapore|
|Tjong Yik Min||President of SPH||1995-2002||Director of Internal Security Department|
|Alan Chan||Director, President, Chief executive of SPH||2002-2017||Perm. Sec. of the Ministry of Transport|
|Lee Boon Yang||Executive chairman of SPH||2011-present||Cabinet Minister|
|Zainul Abidin Rasheed||Editor of Berita Harian, Associate editor of ST||1976-1996||Senior Minister of State for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador|
|Chua Lee Hoong||Review, Political editor of ST||1995-2012||Intelligence analyst of Internal Security Department||Senior Director of Resilience Policy and Research Centre and National Security Research Centre, Prime Minister's Office|
|Patrick Daniel||Editor-in-chief, Deputy chief executive of SPH||1986-present||Director in the Ministry of Trade and Industry|
|Ng Yat Chung||Chief executive of SPH||2017-||Chief of Army, Chief of Defence Force|
|Han Fook Kwang||Editor of ST, Editor-at-large||1989-present||Deputy Director of Ministry of Communications (Land Transport)|
|Janadas Devan||Senior editor of ST||1997-2012||Chief of Government Communications|
|Elgin Toh||Insight editor of ST||2010-2013, 2017-||Assistant director of National Security Coordination Secretariat, Prime Minister's Office|
In his memoir OB Markers: My Straits Times Story, former editor-in-chief Cheong Yip Seng recounts how, since 1986, there has been a government-appointed "monitor" at the newspaper, "someone who could watch to see if indeed the newsroom was beyond control", and that disapproval of the "monitor" could cost a reporter or editor their job. Cheong identifies the first monitor as S. R. Nathan, director of the Ministry of Defence's Security and Intelligence Division and later president of Singapore. Editors were bound by out of bounds markers to denote what topics are permissible for public discussion, resulting in self-censorship.
The Straits Times has also been criticised by netizens for sloppy and biased reporting. For instance, the newspaper repeatedly interviewed a commuter named Ashley Wu on 8 occasions within a span of 10 months, whenever the trains broke down, rather than getting fresh viewpoints from different affected commuters. The newspaper is also known to modify and insert additional lines to op-ed contributors' works, altering the tone and message of the articles, without notifying them in advance.
Chua Lee Hoong was with the civil service for 10 years before joining Singapore Press Holdings as a journalist in 1995.
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