Judges pick 5 of the World’s Best-Designed™ Newspapers

In its 33rd annual The Best of Newspaper Design™ Creative Competition, the Society for News Design has named five newspapers, representing four countries, the World’s Best-Designed™ Newspaper.

They are:

Excelsior, Mexíco City, Mexíco
Cir. 75,000 – 174-999 (Daily)

National Post, Toronto, ON, Canada
Cir. 75,000 – 174-999 (Daily)

Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Cir. 175,000 & over (Non-Daily)

The Grid, Toronto, ON, Canada
Cir. 25,000 – 74,000 – 74,999 (Non-Daily)

Politiken, Copenhagen, Denmark
Cir. 75,000 – 174-999 (Daily)


The five publications we selected for World’s Best are very different from one another typographically and stylistically.

Excelsior uses a bold color palette and a multiple photographs on virtually every page to give it vigor and urgency. FAS and Politiken use sophisticated typography, masterful illustrations and wide broadsheet display to give them an authoritative look. The National Post revels in its narrow page width and tells stories visually as well as any newspaper in the world. The Grid has the feel of an underground paper minus most of the political coverage, but there are engaging story forms on every page that make its readers laugh or shake their head. The Grid’s journalists know their audience and they reach it brilliantly.

Looking beyond the winners, we saw a lot of newspapers around the globe that are converting from broadsheets to tabloids — and we saw many good ones that made it into the final rounds, but none that we believed that had the consistent excellence to move them into the top tier. Designers and editors of those tabloids seem to be trying to identify the right look and feel. We expect they will find their answers in the months and years ahead because many of them are already outstanding.

We saw brilliance and innovation in pockets around the globe. Bold designs came from South China and the UAE; elegance from Buffalo and Portugal; consistent excellence from Hamburg and New York.

The formula for excellence will always be less about format and typography than about the unreserved commitment to the community of readers that newspapers serve and clarity about the nature and interests of those readers. What is a perfect look for an audience in Beijing or Oslo will not likely be perfect for an audience in Buenos Aires or Charlotte. A newspaper must find the voice that speaks clearly to its unique audience of readers, and the best newspapers will always do so.

That’s what all of these World’s Best newspapers share — a certainty about who their audiences are and a bold, sure-footed approach to reaching them. All have a unique voice. All are superb. All share a commitment to print that other newspapers should emulate. They never waste a page, never waste their readers’ time. These newspapers look healthy, well-staffed and richly resourced — even if they are not. It was inspiring to see international journalists who still believe in excellence in print.

But the 33rd Society for News Design World’s Best competition was a reminder, too, of how much has been lost in so many places where journalists and ownerships seem to have lost faith, gutted their products, and undermined their relationships with their readers and their communities. The future health and vigor of the world’s newspapers will depend, as always, on the preservation and renewal of those bonds between print journalists and communities of readers. The consistent excellence represented by these five winners in this year’s World’s Best competition are proof that this ancient formula still works.

The Judges:

Bill Gaspard, China Daily, Beijing
Scott Goldman, The Indianapolis Star and IndyStar.com
Rhonda Prast, Missouri School of Journalism
Søren Nyeland, Politiken, Copenhagen, Denmark
Bob Unger, The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.


About Lee Steele

is design editor of the Hearst Connecticut Newspapers and 2015 president of the Society for News Design.


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Excelsior es un bonita caja de bombones que—periodísticamente—por dentro esta ¡Vacía! Se supone que obtuvo el primer lugar entre diarios con circulación de 75 mil a 175 mil ejemplares diarios. Pero la realidad nos dice que no llega ni a los 25 mil. En 2004 la revista Etcétera le atribuía una circulación, si acaso, de 15 mil ejemplares; en el 2006 esta revista “se la aumento” a 27,490; según el sitio Filos solo distribuye 29, 057 (no quiere decir que los venda todos); el periodista y autor Marco Lara Khlar le atribuye menos de 25 mil.

Excelsior could be a beautiful chocolate box, but journalistically speaking is EMPTY. Also, it was chosen as the best design for dailies with a daily circulation of 75,000 to 175,000. In reality Excelsior’s circulation doesn’t exceed 25,000. (In Mexico there are no circulations bureaus).

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