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 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.
There is a specific Myanmar and Brunei edition published, with a newsprint circulation of 5,000 and 2,500 respectively.
SPH also publishes two other English-language dailies; the broadsheet The Business Times and The New Paper tabloid. The Straits Times is a member of the Asia News Network.
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.
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".
The Straits Times is the only English language newspaper with an active Internet forum in Singapore. A separate edition The Sunday Times is published on Sundays.
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 it will focus local and foreign businessman on 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.
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 the 31 August 1957 general election 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.
The newspaper has been attacked as "the mouthpiece of the ruling party,". The Newspaper and Printing Presses Act of 1974 requires all newspapers to be publicly listed into both ordinary and management shares, with management shares having 200 times the voting rights of ordinary shares and approval from the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts needed for any management share transfers. Past chairpersons of Singapore Press Holdings have been civil servants. SPH's former executive president, Tjong Yik Min, served as the head of the Internal Security Department from 1986 to 1993.
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.Catchick Moses, the Armenian founder of the paper
Robert Carr Woods, the paper's first editor
Susan Long, (Enterprise Editor/Journalist—Wrote an editorial, "NKF: Controversially ahead of its time?", published in The Straits Times on 1 January 2002, which became the subject of the dispute involving the National Kidney Foundation Singapore and SPH, and eventually the lawsuit that led to the National Kidney Foundation Singapore scandal)
John McBeth, columnist since 2004
Ching Cheong, (Ex-Chief China Correspondent (Now Senior Writer based in Hong Kong Formerly held by Chinese authorities on espionage charges)
Koh Buck Song, columnist 1990-99, 2004–05
Miel Prudencio Ma, (Cartoonist and Senior Executive Artist, SPH)
Ernest Corea, Features Editor and Foreign Affairs columnist