World’s Best™ field narrowed to 24 semi-finalists

WB judges J. Bruce Baumann, Margaret O'Connor and Lily Lu work their way through the first round of entries.

UPDATE: C. Marshall Matlock reports the WB judges worked their way through the last of 240 entries in round one late Saturday.

Twenty-four entries (newspapers) survived to round two. Judges spent the early part of Sunday reviewing all 24 entries again for round two.

In round two judges had an opportunity to discuss each newspaper before voting it in or out. It takes four out of five votes for a newspaper to advance to round three.

Eleven newspapers were from the non-daily category and represented all four circulation areas.

Thirteen newspapers were left in the daily category and represented all four circulation areas.

The smallest circulation area in the World’s Best-Designed category was 24,999 and below and the largest was 175,000 and above.

By early Sunday afternoon finalists for World’s Best were determined and the judges are now editing the winning publications for the annual book, documenting their choices, writing their team statement.

EARLIER (from Saturday): According to C. Marshall Matlock, SND competition director, the second day of judging World’s Best™ was expected to be a very long day one as judges began to review the large metro newspapers. At the beginning of the day the five judges had 91 publications to review before they could complete round one of the process. It was still too early to tell how many rounds the judges will have before they reach the discussion phase of the competition.

Once judges complete the first round we’ll have a better idea of how many publications are still left in the competition.

Judges worked until about 9 p.m. Friday before they stopped for dinner. Friday afternoon was spent reviewing daily and non-daily circulations with circulations below 175,000.

Saturday’s judging was set to begin at 9 a.m. with judges reviewing non-daily and daily publications with circulations of 175,000 and above.

“It’s a very long process. We don’t know how long it will take judges to finish the first round, which may leave judges with 30 or more publications going into round two,” said Matlock. “Unlike many years, judges are spending more time looking at each publication’s content for the first round. Normally judges do not spend as much time reviewing the publications the first time around. Most of the time is used beginning with the second round but this year the judges are looking at almost every page before they decide what will remain in or what will be cut. While this takes a lot longer to get to the second round of cuts, it seems to be an indication that we may have more than two or even three rounds before judges will begin the discussions, which some years come as early as round two,” he said.

“My guess is that it will take all morning and much of the afternoon Saturday to finish round one,” said Matlock.

Once round one is completed judges will review the publications that are left in an effort to make at least one more cut before the time-consuming discussions begin. During discussions, judges will have an opportunity to voice their opinions about the newspapers that remain on the table. That could take many hours, especially if judges have a lot of opinions. At the end of each discussion the judges will vote to keep any remaining publication in or out.

When we get down to the final vote for the papers the judges want to name World’s Best a secret ballot is used. That takes a little pressure off judges during the actual vote. By the time the judges vote everyone normally has an idea of how a judge will vote because of what he or she says about a publication.