BY FATIMA CIELO CANCEL
“THE Manila Times Online is a growing force in the virtual world. It is constantly expanding to keep up with the times.”
That was the conclusion of the author’s article for the anniversary issue of The Manila Times last year.
Back then, the Times website had about four million pageviews. The Times was promoting the newly launched digital edition (where readers can view the exact copy of the newspaper online) and was on the final stages of completing The Times’ news app.
What major changes happened to The Manila Times online after a year?
Well, this was what happened.
The Manila Times news app is already available for download in the AppStore and Google Play. The app, developed by Apptarix Mobility Solutions Private Limited, contains “a huge range of news articles from the print and the web versions of the newspaper.” It carries articles from all sections of the newspaper, including the contents of special sections like The Sunday Times Magazine, Fast Times, Special Reports and Special Features. The app content is updated every 30 minutes.
The app is free and is compatible with iPhones, iPad and iTouch that run on iOS 9.3 or later versions. It is also available on android devices.
Aside from this milestone, The Manila Times Online is also overhauling the website and its social media pages.
“We hope to offer more video, live streaming coverage, and overall a better visual presentation to our readers and followers,” The Manila Times President an d Chief Executive Officer Dante Francis Ang 2nd said when asked about plans for TMT Online.
“We are committed to continue improving our content and delivery, and we are open to all technological offerings,” he added.
Earlier this year, TMT Online introduced more visuals and videos to readers.
The Times’ first round table discussion, with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd as guest, was streamed live via Facebook on February 14. That one-hour FB stream received more than a thousand views. Not bad for starters.
To date, eight round table videos are available on the Times’ Facebook page. The most popular (it had 27,000 views) was the guesting of former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. The other round table guests included Ford Group Philippines Managing Director Lance Mosley, Russian Federation Ambassador Igor Khovaev, Unionbank Philippines President Edwin Bautista, Dr. Bruce J. Tolentino of International Rice Research Institute, Ricardo Penson of Ausphil Tollways Corp. and Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio Balisacan.
The Times also started doing live stream on its website, manilatimes.net. The first live stream was President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA). This was followed by important hearings conducted by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Part of TMT online’s evolution is the introduction of microsites dedicated to special events. Microsites were created for the 2017 SONA, the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur and The Manila Times’ 6th Business Forum.
These developments are testaments to the company’s commitment to boost content of TMT Online.
By improving its technical aspects online, the Times also aims to improve and expand its content to reach a wider audience.
“Many of our readers online and those who have subscribed to our digital edition and e-newsletters are based outside the Philippines,” Ang said.
“Technology has allowed us to reach a wider audience, even those outside the Philippines. Of course, our content will continue to be focused on this country, but Filipinos are increasingly concerned about Asean and the larger world in general. As such, we shall strive to deliver content that our readers need,” he added.
Last year, data from Facebook insights showed that TMT Online’s biggest audience outside the Philippines was based in Saudi Arabia followed by those in the United States. TMT Online also has followers in Latin America, Canada, Australia, the Middle East (United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan and Turkey), other Asian countries (Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, Macau, China, India and Pakistan), Europe (Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France, Netherlands and Norway), and the African continent (Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Ghana and Kenya).
In expanding content, Ang said, “We already have some columnists from Malaysia, Hong Kong, and elsewhere.”
“We hope to have more Asean content, and perhaps expand our news cooperation with other media outfits, mainly in Asia,” he added.
Part of the big changes that will happen to TMT Online is a redesign of its website to make it more appealing to its growing number of followers.
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