Of the descriptors that have been and will be applied to 2016, one which journalists can neither debate nor ignore is “newsy.”
Certainly, 2016 was beset by grim news and seemed to overwhelm with tragedy — from global terror attacks to natural disasters, the zika outbreak to notorious deaths, it had its share — but tragedy alone did not define the newsworthiness of 2016. The Brexit vote and U.S. presidential election shook two democracies to their fundamental cores. The summer Olympics in Rio, shrouded in controversy, still put on an intense, flashy and exciting display for two weeks. Major sport after major sport either crowned a high-profile champion or provided a thrilling championship finish (or both).
What I’m saying here is, we did a lot as an industry. Our work as designers was on full display. For those of us still focused on our print publications — in whole or in part — 2016 may well have been career-defining.
The 38th annual Best of News Design Creative Competition was not the reason for our work, but it provides all of us with an opportunity to share the most impactful and resonating of it with the world. With the International entry deadline (Feb. 3) less than a month away, here is a quick list of reasons that this year’s competition should be historic, and why you should take part:
Major news hit us all: Every major publication in every country was affected by big news this year. SND38 provides us all with a chance to showcase to the world how we handled both planned and breaking news, and it provides all of SND with an opportunity to set new standards for both. Only by us all taking part can we raise that bar to its highest.
We had more creative opportunities than ever before: The Best of News Design opening up the print competition to print/digital combinations three years ago has made room for a wider variety of creativity than has ever been available. This year, politics, entertainment, sports (including not just the Olympics, but the European Football Championships and Copa America Centenario) and business were as fluid, interesting and content-rich as ever, and SND38 provides an avenue to compare original, groundbreaking work as well as deep, moving presentation of news events as they evolved. This year, across the board, the Best of News Design has more subcategories than any previous year, and you will find more than one that fits the best work you did.
Our publications can make statements: We made our relevance, importance to readers and value to journalism clear over and over this year. SND38 provides our outlets with the opportunity to show the industry we were committed to visual journalism and executed it at its highest-ever levels in 2016.
Individuals can make statements: Let’s face it, networking is not what it was ten years ago. Opportunities are not abundant in an industry that makes more headlines for cutbacks than expansion, and the most desirable jobs are also the rarest. SND’s Award of Excellence still carries clout and weight in the minds of managers and creative directors, and if your work was worthy, you deserve the ability to lean on an A of E should the need arise.
For those who may not need this in their careers, an SND award is still a powerful statement of value within our own newsrooms — not for recognition or praise, but to show in an annual evaluation or discussion of your work with your boss that you did work that proved to rank quite literally among the best in the world.
SND38 can open a hubbed mind: So many of us work in studios and hubs now — including the person writing this — that we can carry on in our careers indefinitely and only rarely check outside our company for how anyone else is handling presentation. SND38 provides a very real chance to compare the work we have done in insular models against others who have done the same, and as a result provides crucial opportunities to evaluate and learn from our own work, our own hub setup, and our own workflows.
Best of News Design is a cornerstone of SND: The competition remains one of the most important, visible and financially-securing events that SND puts on each year. Even as the society seeks (rather successfully) to break new digital ground, the work honored next month in St. Petersburg will be held up as something of which members can and should be proud. As a member, being a part of that — a part of the organization’s history — can rank among the highlights of your career.
This is the first of an occasional series on the competition that will post between now and the entry deadline. A selection of previous posts includes:
• SND35: Maintaining Perspective With Awards
• SND35: Why it Matters
• SND35: Medal-Winners Past
• SND36: The Art of Entering
• SND37: A Groundbreaking Best in Show