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

@Gannett VP innovation. Boards: @INMAorg, @SND. He was the 2011 president of the Society; 2015 Lifetime Award recipient. Dad to Fiona; partner to @paprgrl76. Relocated Detroiter. Tigers fan. Designer. Editor. SU grad.