The judging process

After a year-long submission period, during which the quarterly winners were determined, the nine judges at the annual Best of Multimedia Design competition are looking for the best of the best. This weekend, they are evaluating professional breaking and non-breaking news presentations, as well as student presentations, to find the best journalistic new media design. Judges are volunteers with professionals credentials who are instructed to focus on five criteria: news value, information editing, information architecture, aesthetic presentation and innovation.

“One of the most interesting things about the competition is that the judging process hasn’t changed all that much since it began eight years ago,” says Laura Ruel, the competition coordinator. “The very first year, I developed the five criteria by which the entries are judged, and each year we discuss them with the judges to make sure that they are still fair and accurate. We’ve found that those criteria have really withstood the test of time.”

The judging is done in rounds, during which the judges review entries from a single category and then vote on whether the entry should stay and be considered a finalist or be eliminated. An entry needs to receive a majority vote for it to advance to become a finalist. After judges vote, they discuss their thoughts about how the finalists should be ranked. Working together and sharing their insights as multimedia professionals, they determine the rankings for gold, silver, bronze and awards of excellence for each category. However, each category does not necessarily produce awards at each level.

“We select the judges each year by looking for people who are leaders in the field, people who create leading-edge work, and people who are teaching the next generation of innovators. We also have previous judges nominate people they know, but most importantly, we try to balance practitioners and academics and developers, to have a good mix of perspectives,” adds Ruel. “We’ve done little things to improve the discussion process, but it’s really the personality of the judges that makes the competition different each year and deepens the level of discussion from year to year.”

For an entry to earn a gold award, all judges must agree on that ranking. The annual winners will be announced September 24, 2009, at SND’s Annual Workshop and Exhibition in Buenos Aires. For more information about entering the competition, visit SND.
The next quarterly entry deadline is Oct.7.

-Reporting by Lauren Frohne and Anna Carrington