The reality of The Straits Times


Straits Times put on trial its latest “feature” today — seeing the world through tinted lenses (aka 3D glasses).

The paper says this is one way it is trying to improve itself, by allowing its readers to get the news from a different perspective. So I decided to do a simple quantitative analysis to find out if it was so. It turned out that only 10 out of the 65 news photo and graphics (excluding small profile pictures) could be seen in 3D perspective. On the other hand, some 20 advertisements were 3D ready. Plus, that pair of 3D spectacles was “Brought to You by Samsung”. And, if you didn’t know, TODAY newspaper was actually the first to bring 3D to newspapers. They worked with Panasonic Singapore and were upfront about it.

Most importantly, they kept it out of editorial content.

This aggressive campaign by Samsung and Panasonic to reinvent advertising on our local newspapers to push the 3D agenda is one thing. But, 3D editorial content? I’m not sure if it works, at all.

Besides the fact that it takes 1.5 hours for the photo desk to process a 3D photo, and photographers having to shoot such that it is suitable for 3D, the effect is simply not very nice at all. Through those glasses, the photos lose their colour. Without them, the photo looks blur. Moreover, none of the photos I saw today convinced me that seeing something pop out was nothing more than gimmicky. And, let’s not even start on how those spectacles hinders the reading experience!

If ST is really keen on improving their readers’ needs for images in the newspaper, then put it in multimedia journalism like this, and give more space to infographics and photojournalism in the newspaper and online. No need for anything fanciful, just let the talented photographers and artists do good old visual storytelling.

The only reason why I think ST hopped on to 3D was because it is ‘cool’ now to have it, and I won’t be surprised if it was heavily subsidised by the advertisers in some way or another.

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