Tag: Business Times

[FEATURED] Drawing From The Past


SINGAPORE’S TRANSFORMATION from a small fishing village to a modern city today can be seen through its architecture – from the kampong houses of old to today’s gleaming skyscrapers.

What’s less obvious is that our history can also be seen in other ways, from old school matchbox designs to…

➜ Read the full story in Business Times Lifestyle

A Design of Its Time — 1989

Keeping up with the times – the changing look of Singapore’s longest surviving English newspaper The Straits Times.

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Introduction } 1960s } 1970s } 1980s } 1989 } 1998 } 2000s
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Designing a commercial paper

It was only in June 1989, that the paper introduced a “new format.”[i] The first three pages of ST now housed a selection of the day’s top stories and a scaled down summary index in a section called News Focus.

As a sign of how important business interests had become in Singapore, ST’s financial section, Timesdollar, now fronted the back page usually reserved for news. “If you want to get to business and economic news first, you might want to read the paper from back to front – which is the way the business and stock market news has been arranged,” the paper wrote.[ii]

In March 1990, the paper updated itself again and it declared ST to be more “reader-friendly.”[iii] A more consistent look was implemented with standardised logos, writer bylines and tags. In addition, perhaps to differentiate itself from the local financial publication, Business Times, it renamed its economic news section Money, and the paper, which once referred to itself as Times, now called itself ‘ST’.

These changes also reflected a strengthening of its business and brand. ST was now part of SPH that was led by chairman Lim Kim San. The former civil servant introduced a business-like attitude to the newspapers, and to him, a “commercial success was not only respectable but essential for a newspaper.”[iv]

A 1990 design change registering this new direction saw a reduction by one-inch of its width to fifteen-inches. The smaller paper size, it explained, saved newsprint and was in line with newspaper sizes worldwide.

And it also meant advertising sizes that were friendlier to the growing number of multi-national companies in Singapore. The size change also coincided with SPH’s adoption of a multi-million dollar computerised advertising network system that connected it to regional advertising agencies.

The paper also returned to an eight-column grid. While, this made it more readable with wider columns and fewer stories cramped into a page, editorial space was reduced as well, especially with the smaller newspaper size. To make up for this, liveries were simplified. However, this was not too much of a constraint, as compared to twenty years ago, ST now had two times more pages and was regularly running over eighty pages per issue.

Finally, Section Two was renamed Life and the paper pledged to feature a “stronger commentary on the arts.”[v] This was in line with the government’s recognition of the importance of arts and culture in Singapore society after the 1989 Ong Teng Cheong report.[vi]

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  • [i] “New Format Today,” The Straits Times, June 1 1989.
  • [ii] Ibid.
  • [iii] “ST Is Now More Reader-Friendly,” The Straits Times, March 1 1990.
  • [iv] Turnbull, 369.
  • [v] “ST Is Now More Reader-Friendly.”
  • [vi] Teng Cheong Ong, Robert Iau, Kheng Soon Tay, Edwin Thumboo, Seng Teck Yeo, Arun Mahizhnan, Kee Koon Chia, Hawazi Bin Daipi, Kwong Wah Er, Leslie Fong, Kwong Ping Ho, Haji Suhaimi Jais, Cher Siang Koh, Teck Juan Loy, Siok Tin Wong-Lee and Vincent Yip., “Report of the Advisory Council on Culture and the Arts,” Singapore: 1989, 3.

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Explaining the Budget 2009

Lots of of numbers and something for everyone, the Budget 2009 announcement yesterday was a great opportunity for the use of information graphics — so which local English paper did it best?


Most engaging concept: The New Paper

You have to give it to the tabloid paper for always trying to make the news accessible and interesting for its readers. Conceptually, the umbrella, an everyday object, to protect you from bad weather is a great analogy of the Budget announcement and something anyone can relate to. And instead of going for the big numbers, it divides the details into neat packages depending on who you are, a businessman, a tax-payer, an adult Singaporean…

todaybudgetMost efficient concept: TODAY

This paper covered all the necessary details in a quarter of a page and with an interesting concept to boot! It clearly knows who its readers are as it divides the budget coverage into clear sections that are represented as “pills”. Not only are you able to get the information in a glance, the graphic also points you to the pages if you plan to read more on the given section.


Most grand concept: The Straits Times (ST)

A full cover and big numbers — when the Budget is discussed in terms of billions, it is hard to relate to it as a person on the street. The paper decided to go for the helicopter-view of things and emphasise on the massive figures as the news point. Unlike TODAY, the infographic does not serve to lead on to the other sections but in its special Budget section, it does divide it to relevant parts for different readers. The paper is definitely aiming to provide depth with an individual section just for the Budget and it clearly expects its readers to read everything on it. Whether this actually pans out in reality, I remain sceptical.

Most no-frills concept: Business Times (BT) & My Paper



Both papers chose to keep things simple, limiting any graphic to just a box and relevant sections. My Paper (right) is clearly more people-oriented while BT’s (left) angle was more for the businessmen.

How do other newspapers cover the Budget? Here is the Spanish 2008 Budget as covered by a Spanish newspaper, Público


This is definitely not something that would work for a TNP reader, but I would hope to see out of ST, BT or TODAY.  It is a sophisicated infographic that shows the complexity and massive figures of the budget instead of telling it by using different colours and sizes for its “pipes”.

Since ST went for the helicopter-view of things, such a graphic would have been a great companion to its pages and pages of text. In fact, it would be something I want to pull out and keep just so I know the Budget 2009 inside out!