SND30: Five papers named World’s Best-Designed

SND30: The 2008 World’s Best-Designed™ Newspapers from Society for News Design on Vimeo.

In its 30th annual “The Best of Newspaper Design™ Creative Competition,” the Society for News Design has named four newspapers from Europe and one from Mexico as “World’s Best-Designed Newspapers™.”

This year’s “World’s Best-Designed Newspapers™” are:

  • Akzia, Moscow, Russia, biweekly, circulation 200,000
  • Eleftheros Tipos, Athens, Greece, daily, circulation, 86,000
  • Expresso, Paço de Arcos, Portugal, weekly, circulation 120,000
  • The News, Mexico City, daily, circulation 10,000
  • Welt am Sonntag, Berlin, weekly, 400,000


Newspaper design is about attracting attention, the attention of the reader, the advertiser, the consumer. This is true whether the publication is produced in Beijing or Boston, London or Lusaka, Hanover or Hartford.

The world is changing and the world of newspapers has to change with it. The format move from broadsheet to ‘broad-loid’ (narrower broadsheet) has already happened, especially in the U.S. But the move elsewhere from broadsheet to compact (aka tabloid) is inexorable, logical and offers what readers, particularly younger readers, desire.

This year, more than ever, in the World’s Best-Designed category, the entries reflect the location, ethnicity and demographic of this evolving global audience.

With one exception, the winners are ‘compact’. This size and shape also reflect a modernistic trend towards what this year’s judges came to identify as the new ‘magazine-newspaper’ –- an organized hybrid of news and views designed in a way previously identified with ‘style magazines’.

What does this mean? It means an impressive attention to layout detail. Pictures are carefully framed or intelligently cropped. Information graphics are presented in a user-friendly way. Typographical options are weighed up and then used judiciously. The winners also show how to use a modern palette with more organic colours such as subtle browns, greens and greys allied to regal burgundies and vibrant reds. These are shades and hues more often seen in paintings than newsprint.

From the U.S. perspective a profound design imbalance persists. Many stateside entries present impressive front pages in colour but then falter into monochrome negativity inside the book. This is despite a growing design control across the entire paper in terms of unified typography and layout. Overall, continuity of style and consistency of standards are rising, but surprises are too few. The winners surprise us.

It is gratifying to see the increased participation of eastern Europe (Russia, Latvia, Estonia), the Far East (China, Japan, Taipei), Israel and Turkey, among others. There are exciting entries from these countries, some of which were narrowly pipped at the post.

The quality of newspaper design has improved. The judges were looking for that indefinable ‘extra’ ingredient that stands out from the crowd – the design solution. We believe we found it among the winners. The way bylines are presented, how text is broken up, the use of colour as a signpost, the announcement of a new section, the graphic that explains it all. Many designers look at the big, brash, bold elements … the winners also look to the details.

Sadly, illustrations do not surprise, excite and inform as much or as often as they used to. Fewer information graphics are being used and in a recessive world also feel more subdued. The rising trend of strong photography in the 1980s and 1990s seems now a distant memory. Often, photo departments and staff shooters are the first to go during management cutbacks. Yet, as the global culture becomes more visual, newspapers must keep pace, even lead. Publishers must recognise that the core value of their product is good journalism — the integration of writing, photography, graphics and design.

Of the winners, the sole broadsheet paper has an expansive canvas with the confidence and freedom to produce text-heavy pages, allied to beautiful photography and insightful graphics.

Other winners provide yet another innovation – the ‘sub-compacts’ from Russia and Mexico. Once again they offer something different and appealing.

If as an industry we are moving inexorably towards breaking news on the Internet, newspapers need to become even more of a premium product. Has the day dawned on the daily news mag-paper, witness Eleftheros Tipos.

There were 301 entries for the World’s Best-Designed section very few different countries were represented. For those not present, SND needs your support and SND will support you in return.

For a paper to flourish, there needs to be an increasing recognition of visual journalism –- the proper integration of word and image. Design, art, graphics should never again be seen as mere decoration but as an integral part of the passing-on and receiving of information. Every designer or photographer should have an ongoing conversation with the word editor –- you are all journalists.

Above all, in making difficult decisions while appreciating the outstanding work submitted, the judges were looking to see whether the papers contain all the right elements for good design – symbolism, aesthetics, function, accessibility. Without the fourth, it’s just design for designers … the winners had ALL these elements.

Don’t forget the readers!
Hasta la revista, baby!

Michael Crozier, design director of Crozier Associates Ltd.
Marco Grieco, art director of the Portuguese weekly Expresso
Michael Keegan, design consultant to the Pew Research Center
Mary Nesbitt, managing director of the Readership Institute at Northwestern University
Barbara Roessner, managing editor of the Hartford Courant

— The 30th Edition, World’s Best-Designed™ Newspaper judges

The winning entries (sans commentary):

About Steve Dorsey

is @GateHouse_Media @CNDaustin VP. Boards: @INMAorg, @SND. He was the 2011 president of the Society; 2015 Lifetime Award recipient. Relocated Detroiter; Syracuse grad.


Not to sound sour grapes, but it appears we have another year in which the SND judges threw the small-newspaper categories out the window.

I can count the number of winning American papers in the under-49,000 circulation category on one hand. Take a spin through the U.S. database. It’s a who’s who of metro dailies.

It very much appears that the smaller papers are being judged in relation to their bigger peers, instead of in relation to each other. Hand out some awards to the little guys so we can truly gauge where we stand. The contest should recognize the best entries in each category, not hold some to an unattainable standard.

SND leaders, please address this issue again so we don’t have a repeat next year.

I gotta disagree, Joe,

2008 was the year of the redesign.

Only five papers worldwide and only three newspapers in the U.S. were honored for their overall designs:

Chicago Tribune (500,000+ circ.)
South Florida Sun-Sentinel (300,000+ circ.)

and the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle with 16,000 circ. and a total staff of less than two dozen.

I would add that if you factor in Category One it appears 2008 was also the year of the non-metro and non-daily (and non-U.S. paper too, of course).

I probably posted this in the wrong place. I’m not as concerned about the awards for overall design. I just want to see a few awards of excellence handed out to the smaller papers. A paltry 5% of the total awards went to the under-49,000 category. That doesn’t offer much encouragement or inspiration to the great majority of newspapers in the world.

You didn’t lower your standards from what, Martin? The level you would expect when you worked at the Merc? That’s the problem. What’s the point in having circulation categories if everything is graded on the same level?


The majority of small newspaper pages are judged in their own category. If you go back and look at the coverage from last weekend, you’ll see that.


“Every designer or photographer should have an ongoing conversation with the word editor –- you are all journalists.”

Many of them are incapable of doing so.

Leaving the designers alone for now: Too many photographers are unable to perform one of the most basic functions of their job—summarizing the information in their photo. They create a cascade of communication gaps on a daily basis. That is not journalism.

Now, back to this group. Ninety-eight percent of the “communication” that I’ve heard between designers and editors consists of designers bitching about how boring the articles are or how long they have to wait for the articles. I confess to originating a tiny piece of that 98 percent at a couple of papers where city editors felt the need to cling to their poorly edited stories until the last possible second.

The remainder of the 98 percent comes from y’all.

“Many stateside entries present impressive front pages in colour but then falter into monochrome negativity inside the book.”

That comes from at least 15 years of obsessing about the front pages. Somehow the lesson of “You can’t judge a book by its cover” is lost between the elementary school desk and the design desk. Sad. Very sad.

The above summary blames Everyone Else: Photographers. Publishers. Alas, not Nickelback, which should be blamed for everything.

Time to look in the mirror, especially in the United States.

Cingratulations The News, Welt am Sonntag, ich glaube dass es ist Wondershôn dass Mèxico ist ins premio.
Expresso, wow!! Azika, ohhh. magnific!!

Not to refute Joe’s comments, but The News has a circulation of a mere 10,000 and managed to stand out—deservedly—in a large crowd that included many U.S. papers undoubtedly.

I know the small papers are judged in their own category, but it very much seems that those judges bring a metro mentality and expectations to that process. Yes, a few small papers did get recognition, but again, they made up only 5 percent of the total number of awards. Let’s get some balance, people!


I’d argue that balance is a bad virtue to have for a competition.

And given that the number of small papers winning was proportional to the number of larger papers winning (vs. the number of entries by each group), I’d say the judges got it about right.


So if what you’re saying is right, then only 500-some individual entries came from small papers out of the 10,725 total. I guess my gripe then is with poor representation from the little guys. Maybe this segment of the industry is more prone to slashing expenses like these.

By balance, I just meant that we get a broad representation from all sizes of papers.

I am totally agree with Joe Tarica. I think this year was the worst of all. I could see the printed edition of one of the winner newspapers and I think it is ridiculous what they did. I do not want to make less anyone’s effort, but this time, as in others, it seems to be more a friendship issue than a worthiness one. It is important ro rescue SND’s mission. I do not understand what is going on. It is ridiculous to see a newspaper so design-less between the best of the world. I think you have to deserve it. And, Steve, you are causing too much damage to the SND. It seems the most important thing was the money we payed for participating, not anything else. How is it possible to have in the jury a guy whose only virtue is to make the others laugh? His criteria and logic are as boring as the last SND meetings. Does he not realize that the crisis the industry is going throuh should push to make a big effort in each art direction’s budget? We deserve respect, all of us, who conform this designers association. In 20 years I have been participating, I had never been so sad to be part of this family. I have got 120 prices and so medals, and this ones I got this year are the most undeserved of my whole career. I want respect, not only for me, but for everyone.

this is great step two years ago, when upon perishing itself that the congress of the SND was carried out in Mexico and that coincidence that just by those you gave a newspapper of Mexico won so many prizes.
Of 72 in that year, passed to 7 the following year, all these things leave a lot that to think of the SND, and curious that this year that is going to carry out in another pies of sudamerica, just the daily organizer be one with the major number of prizes… 
If in the SND they knew what has to be done the the budgets of the directions of art to participate, I assure them that this serious but serious contest, I do not doubt of the capacities that have the newspapers that before mentions, of what if I doubt is of the truth of the contest and trasparencia of the contest… 

I do not want to be unpolite, but this is my position.


What I see here is a pathetic display of unaceptance that the printed media HAS ALREADY CHANGED. Please read again carefully the arguments of the judges for having chosen those 5 amazing newspapers. Great design cannot depend upon circulation numbers, number of staff members, who is friends with whom nor how many prizes you have won before. In journalism and VISUAL journalism the focus should always be in what is yet to say, to do, to design, to come. I’d say it’s time for us all to GET TO WORK. Please stop embarassing yourselves with these poor remarks with zero community awareness and zero support for the upcoming generations of newspaper designers.

Today’s small American newspapers are reeling from steep newshole reductions, layoffs, furloughs and diversification into “ad vehicles.” Meanwhile, the Internet is stealing more and more time and circulation without replacing revenue. SND’s designs, advice and awards all seem to ignore this reality. The result, I’m afraid, is that SND has become almost irrelevant to small newspapers.

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