Copenhagen: Wonderful!

Copenhagen Crash 2008: What a great success this event was!

The welcome was held at Pressen, Politiken’s old printing hall, a wonderfully grotty big space with old press ink on the walls.

Stig Orskov
, editor in chief of Politiken, Crash host, and Anders Tapola, SND/S president, welcomed us in a wrestling ring with these words:

Will spectacular ideas crash conventional wisdom?
Will Danish squatters crash into police barricades again this spring?
Will news boys continue to crash the public place with bundles of free papers on every street corner?
Will paid newspapers desperately crash the old designs and reappear as luxurious concept papers?
When will managed declines turn into crashing declines?
And will photographer heroes crash while the man and the woman in the street take on demographic pixel photography?
Why do most Web sites look like a traffic crash?
Why is war photography only about crashed vehicles? Who will crash this myth and show blood and victims?
How many more forests will have to crash to serve the needs of fewer and fewer readers?
And should we worry since the electronic newspaper is just around the corner?

Where will it take us all?

On the first night a bunch of tough speakers entered the wrestling ring with hard punching points about survival, messages in a bottle, political language and how to finish things off!

Per Munch from Politiken was the host. Iben Philipsen, also from Politiken, dressed in campy little tighties, silently introduced the wresting ring crew with big cards telling us what round we were on. (On the night of the gala, Iben was the hostess of the evening, dressed in an evening gown and was not at all silent!)

Especially memorable was a totally inane presentation by Pia Haraldsen, political editor of Rikets Rost, TV2. She is a favorite watch on television in Norway even though she is banned from interviewing there now that they know what she is about. Pia is blond and beautiful, she purposely asks the most stupid questions as if she is mildly retarded in that dumb blonde sort of way and gets away with it! She interviews leading political people from all over the world who agree to interviews without researching who she is. They are initially gracious with the interviews as they look into her big beautiful eyes. And then some of them become very angry at the stupidity of the questions, which of course is what the show is all about. Very embarrassing for the people interviewed. And then these interviews are broadcast on Norway television. Very amusing!

A profound presenter was Jesper Andreasson, Global Manager of Advertising for Absolut Vodka. He explained the advertising campaign of spirits for the last 20 years. Absolut revolutionized spirit advertising with an amazing campaign for print media, especially magazines, that made them tremendously successful. And he demonstrated how they are now so idea driven and becoming very interactive for multimedia ad campaigns. Very inspiring!

And then Stephanie Grace Lim came on! Her presentation last year at SND/S inspired the wrestling theme this year. Yeah, Stephanie! She continued this year, using real wrestlers to illustrate her creative themes. The wrestlers were from the Danish wrestling team. While Stephanie was having some tech problems, the leader of the wrestlers talked impressively for about 15 minutes about wrestling challenges and their wonderful gimmics which actually gave us good context for her presentation. Such fun!

More sessions, more to learn

The next day, there were a wide selection of upfront speakers who prepared us for the ongoing clashes and crashes in the news industry. It was a very quick day, and so intense. The session was held at Radisson SAS Hotel, a remarkable hotel.

Many great presentations were given, including Mark Porter from The Guardian on “How to redesign the web and keep connection to the printed paper” and “How to sell newspapers to young people” by Peter Leijten, senior editor of

Our former SND president, Svenake Bostrom, media development manager at Sundsvalls Tidning in Sweden, and Carina Ihlstrom Eriksson from Halmstad University gave us the first showing ever of the film “Anytime Anywhere,” a step stone into ubiquitous media services. I found this presentation both profound and disturbing but a great look into the future.

There was an AMAZING inspiring presentation given by Svetlana Maximchenko, an incredibly young editor-in-chief of Akzia, one of the SND World’s Best-Designed newspapers this year. Wow! I was stunned by the passion and commitment of this woman and her staff. This paper began as a free student newspaper, given out at the university and cafes. The students remained with this paper after graduation, holding on to other jobs while they volunteered to make this paper grow. It is a paper which meets the needs of the under-30 crowd, a very unique audience in Russia.

And now Akzia is a real paper, winning the World’s Best-Designed honor at this year’s annual creative competition! It is worth going to SND Vegas this fall just to see her session! You will be blown away! Akzia is an intelligent, beautiful paper that totally meets its readers needs, all produced in one room in Russia!

On the side on Friday was Crash Mash, the design doctors with many greats in design including Maj Ribergaard, Ally Palmer, Rickard Frank, Stephanie Grace Lim, Per Folkver, Ole Munk, Jacob Nordstrom and Terry Watson.

Awards gala

The awards evening gala for the Best of Scandinavian News Design was also held at the same wonderful venue, Pressen, as opening night. This time instead of being a grotty wrestling scene, though, it was all dressed up with white table linens and candelabras at each table. There was fabulous food and entertainment. I helped Anders give out gifts on stage to all the people of the organizing committee. I was especially happy to give a gift to Soren Nyeland, art director of Politiken. He worked so hard as Crash chairman!

Crash concluded with a cultural boat trip of Copenhagen to the opera and the brand new Royal Danish Playhouse. What fun!


Old friends, new friends

Of course, it was also great to crash into old SND friends, Ole Munk (who I kept meeting in the unisex bathroom), Svenake Bostrom, and of course Anna Ostlund and her beautiful luscious baby and gracious boyfriend. Wow, it was great to see Anna! Hello to all of you from her.

It was wild to see Gavin Munro again. He used to work with me at the National Post and now works with Ally Palmer and Terry Watson. What a fun buddy he is! And I made many new SND friends, too…, especially Svetlana Maximchenko, she is one of just two SND members in Russia.

It was a crazy crashing insightful time. As SND president with a commitment to internationalism it was important to me to be in Copenhagen. It was wonderful!

Where next?

And now I am in Paris for a joint conference from the Society and IFRA, presenting with Marshall Matlock and Laura Ruel on behalf of SND. Expect a full report from the City of Light soon!

~ Gayle Grin is the president of the Society for News Design and a managing editor at The National Post. She wrote this from Copenhagen Crash 2008, which happened from May 23-25.