The Straits Times, Singapore’s only English broadsheet, has been ranked 3rd in the most positively perceived local brand survey by British-based research firm, YouGov.
It is the second year that the newspaper has been ranked in the top 10. Among all brands, the Straits Times is ranked 9th, with Singapore Airlines topping the charts, followed by Whatsapp and Google.
The scores are based on the YouGov Brand Index’s scoring system which measures overall brand health, and is derived from an online sample of some 4,000 surveys in each country per day, over a period of 12 months.
146,000 interviews were conducted for the Singapore rankings.
The barometers used in the survey included things such as consumers’ perception of a brand’s overall quality, value, impression, reputation, and whether those surveyed would recommend the brand to others.
“All brands have been tracked for at least 6 months to be included in the rankings, and have tracked for at least 6 months in the prior year’s period (as well as being currently tracked) to appear in the movers tables,” YouGov said.
The Straits Times’ higher ranking this time round may not be a surprise, given that it has been engaged in publicity campaigns, including holding an annual marathon, and events such as the recent concert by the Bay which was attended by 15,000 people. The paper also has a captive audience, given that it is the only English broadsheet in Singapore.
But while its brand may be “positively perceived”, its editorial content is still very much a topic of controversy and debate.
Singapore’s press freedom has been languishing at the bottom half of the global index by Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House.
The Straits Times’ print edition has also seen a steady, and precipitous, drop in readership and advertising revenue the last 10 to 15 years, although its digital edition has seen increasing readership. It is, however, unclear what the demographics of that readership are. The Straits Times also has a wide reach in social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Trust in Singapore’s media, overall, has hovered between 50% and 70% the last few years, and has decreased in some years.
In 2015, for example, the Edelman survey found trust in media here dropped from 70% to 59%, with traditional and hybrid media bearing the brunt of the decrease.
In a recent survey by Blackbox, 70% said the quality of coverage, rather than the rise of digital media, “is causing problems for print news media such as TODAY and the Straits Times.”
In June last year, Home Affairs and Law Minister, K Shanmugam, said trust in the media “is under challenge.”
Speaking at the forum titled “Keep it real: Truth and trust in the Media”, Mr Shanmugam said, “Truth and trust in the media are pressing issues for our contemporary society. At the heart of that is the online misinformation that we all have to face.”
The government Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods held hearings in March to receive feedback and views on how to deal with “fake news”.
The committee is expected to release its report later in the year on the recommendations it will make to the government.