GOOD journalism is Sun.Star's core value since it started more than 30 years ago. In 2000, Sun.Star saw technology as a driving force in the future of news.
Jesus B. Garcia Jr., Sun.Star chairman of the board, said they were scanning the news environment 15 years ago and saw that digital technology is going to change the media landscape.
"The idea of the website was to prepare the foundations of Sun.Star to be able to meet the needs and demands of the digital age. That was the basic concept," Garcia said.
Today, the challenge for Sun.Star, Garcia said, is to provide the services of a gatekeeper to sift through the plethora of information that needs validation and verification.
Sun.Star president Julius G. Neri Jr. said technology has changed the role of newspapers. Sun.Star has to adapt and innovate.
"Sun.Star is no longer just a newspaper, but an information provider to give readers the information they want, when they want it, and in whatever platform they choose," Neri said.
He said all the readers have so many choices available to them. "They have various print publications; they have broadcast media, radio, Internet. In the Internet alone, there are so many other subcategories. We have apps, websites, e-papers and so forth. So right now, the readers are spoiled for choice."
"It is our responsibility to be where our readers are, to remain relevant to them, to give them what they want to know about, what they want to read, when they want it, and in the way that they want it," he added.
The Sun.Star website, at www.sunstar.com.ph, grew with the audience and technology innovations in the last 15 years. It is among the top performers in the online news industry and is the pioneer in online community journalism in the country, covering 12 major cities.
Now, on the website's 15th year, we celebrate 15 great things of Sun.Star online, mobile and social.
1. Visually sexy - Taking cue from modern website design trends, Sun.Star adopted a new website design that features more photos and videos. It runs dynamic galleries and media slideshows on any screen size. The full screen slideshow is stunning and each slide represents a story.
Other media elements like sound bytes and video clips are also available, providing more life to a story. These visual enhancements give Sun.Star readers a better reading experience, making www.sunstar.com.ph visually sexy.
2. Certified mobile friendly - As more people browse websites using different mobile devices, Sun.Star saw the need to optimize and make its site responsive.
The new website is optimized for mobile, as well as for desktop. It allows easy navigation, with no unnecessary finger movement needed to read the news. Sun.Star is a Google-certified mobile friendly website.
3. Thumb-friendly - For users on-the-move, Sun.Star is the way to go. Multi-tasking is the word of the day and the thumb is the finger to play. Getting the top headlines and breaking news can be done by thumb action.
Sun.Star's website has been optimized to make sure everything is big enough for easy navigation; spaces between elements are right for thumb clicking. Sun.Star news is just a thumb away.
4. Social all the time - Everybody is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking sites. Sharing, commenting and recommending are social activities that connect friends, relatives and even enemies anytime, anywhere. Sun.Star, with its improved website, allows sharing, commenting and recommending stories to social networking site easy and fast. It provides a facility to comment and discuss hot issues of the day. It also gives access to readers to connect to their favorite reporters and opinion writers for feedback or a news tip.
5. Genuinely hyper-local - Sun.Star is the only network of community newspapers in the country. It provides news from 12 major cities. Its hyper-local content connects Filipinos here and abroad, making Sun.Star a home to many.
6. Drone reporting - Sun.Star adopted another way of reporting news using drones or unmanned aerial vehicles to provide readers a wider view of an event. The aircraft Sun.Star is using is remotely controlled. Drone reporting shows readers the extent of fire damage, destruction by an earthquake or a typhoon, for example. It provides vivid images of a sports event like Ironman, the Sinulog street dancing, road protests and a traffic mess.
7. Live streaming - Sun.Star started live streaming in 2009. It was something new for a newspaper company to try broadcasting, albeit over the Internet. A basic camcorder, a free live streaming software and a free broadcasting service allowed Sun.Star to send live images of the Sinulog to the world, for the first time. Filipinos abroad who saw the festival after years of being away got emotional and sent a deluge of thank-you messages.
Six years after the first live streaming, Sun.Star was able to stream live major festivals in the country like the Kadayawan in Davao, Panagbenga in Baguio, and Masskara in Bacolod, as well as international sports events like Ironman and Ronda Pilipinas. Sun.Star now offers live streaming in high definition for a global audience.
8. Webcast (newscast on the web) - It is the latest innovation in Sun.Star's broadcast experiments. Developed from scratch, the webcast is in Bisaya and is aired every noon from Monday to Friday. The newscast provides updates of the day's headlines in video and sound bytes. The webcast, that runs for 12 to 15 minutes, is available on replay after the live cast. It was designed to be the lunch companion of Filipinos in the world.
9. Video channel - Sun.Star is a content partner of YouTube. It has "Sun.Star Philippines" as its TV channel, hosting video productions from the daily webcast, special features, live streaming videos and news clips of interviews with news sources or of events.
The channel has more than 6,000 subscribers as of May 2015. A beauty tip video series by Sun.Star's Beauty Enthusiast columnist Joanna Cuenco is among the channel's offerings.
Subscribe to the Sun.Star channel at Sun.Star Philippines on YouTube to get the hottest videos and latest news.
10. Read monitor - Read time is a usability feature of the new Sun.Star website. It was designed to keep the user aware of how long it would take him or her to read the article. It gives the user an idea of whether to read it now or later. This feature sets user expectations upfront with the estimated time needed to read the articles. "Reading so far" is another usability feature that guides the audience on how far he or she has read the story - 20 or 50 percent of the article.
11. Personal to you - The volume of information online is maddening and annoying. Sun.Star's app -- My Sun.Star -- showcases personalization of user's interests. It also provides news bits for people on the move, app specific content and the one-touch access to news of your choice.
It is available on the Google Play store and soon on the Apple store.
12. E-paper - The Sun.Star e-paper or the electronic paper is the exact digital replica of the printed paper. It gives you the similar flipping experience of a printed paper in a digital platform. Sun.Star provides a seven-day trial for those who want to try out the service. With Sun.Star's e-paper service, you can now check your favorite Sun.Star newspaper online anytime, anywhere. Under Sun.Star's banner are the e-papers of Sun.Star Cebu, Sun.Star SuperBalita Cebu, Sun.Star Davao, Sun.Star Pampanga, Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro, and Sun.Star Baguio. The Sun.Star Cebu Yearbook and Sun.Star's Bisdak Magasin are also available. Subscribe now.
13. Creative advertising - Content is king, Bill Gates once said this and Google popularized it. The face of online marketing has changed many times and it continues to create a buzz in the industry. Some companies doing content marketing use social media (79%) to push content about their brand, article posting (78%), in-person events, e-newsletters, case studies, blogs and white papers and webinars.
Seeing these trends, Sun.Star provides creative advertising packages for advertisers. It now offers sponsored content that allows advertisers to showcase their brand in text, photos, infographics and video, or in multimedia presentation. It is labeled as sponsored content but the presentation is the same as the news and other information on the Sun.Star website.
Other creative online packages are now available and could be tailored to fit advertisers' needs. Check with your Sun.Star advertising consultant for details.
14. Young and dynamic staff - The people behind these digital improvements of Sun.Star are not just young and dynamic but passionate, dedicated and well-educated. The Sun.Star Network Exchange (Sunnex) is the office that manages the digital innovations of the Sun.Star media group. It is an office of 21 people, including a reportorial team in Manila, a perfect mix of young journalism graduates and experienced journalists from top universities like University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila, and Harvard University.
The team handles website updating, webcast, multimedia reports, live streaming, and social media campaigns.
15. You - The innovations and creations of Sun.Star are for you, our readers. We appreciate the comments you left behind and the feedback on our new products and services, as they allow us to work some more and improve our creations. We also value your appreciation of what we do to inspire us to do better.