SPH staff relaxed about their bright new environment



In a city where every inch of space counts, a renovation of Singapore Press Holdings' Toa Payoh North news centre has created a new feeling of space and light, while managing to find room for additional facilities.

There are even spaces for meditation, rest and recreation, and a round room available for "conflict resolution".

Even sleep: "I'm working up to a full eight hours a day," jokes Damien Bray, a wiry Australian who heads up SPH's Sweet inhouse creative facility.

On the final day of the Publish Asia conference - of which SPH was a sponsor - we're shown around by members of the team including Irene Ngoo, who is vice president for editorial projects on the English/Malay/Tamil (EMT) media group, digital news editor (video) Yeung E-von, and SPH Radio general manager Sim Hong Huat.

They have plenty to show, with some key elements - including a new news studio and kitchen still under construction and wiring underway.

The refit - the first major renovation of the former television factory for 20 years - began last year and is scheduled for completion mid-2019. Happy staff work better, and the project pays attention to that, making sure the Straits Times publisher's employees are relaxed and fit for their roles in what is also a hub of intense activity.

Central is a new newsroom - primarily for the Straits Times and Business Times - which draws both on contemporary radial design, and also provides for separate digital and print teams. Other new facilities however, such as the new studios, will be shared across all SPH units including Sweet.

There's also an opportunity to grasp the scale of the SPH Radio operation, where talent sparkles, and brands are front and centre.

Presenting as almost a separate unit is the Chinese Media Group, where historic photographs on the walls testify to the particular complications of publishing in vernacular scripts. It's further emphasis of the extent to which the business has changed not just in the last couple of decades, but since SPH was formed in 1984. Currently it has almost 5000 employees including a about 1000 journalists working around the world. The titles extend over more than 170 years for the Straits Times and 95 for Lianhe Zaobao, more than 60 years for Berita Harian and more than 80 for Tamil Murasu.

The group is also a significant property investor, with shopping malls - including a small one in Australia - and purpose-built student accommodation in the UK.