The Society for News Design on Saturday announced four World’s Best-Designed™ Newspapers — Dagens Nyheter (Sweden), De Morgen (Belgium), The Guardian (Britain) and Politiken (Denmark) — and one World’s Best-Designed™ winner from the digital competition, Facebook, at the conclusion of its 37th annual workshop, which convened at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
World’s Best-Designed™ Newspapers: Judges’ statement
Judges: Steve Cavendish (Nashville Scene), Tracy Collins (Gannett’s Phoenix Design Studio), Anne Marie Owens (National Post), Emmet Smith (Washington Post), and Fevzi Yazici (Zaman).
We arrived in snowy Syracuse to stacks of 215 papers. After an initial cut, we took it down to 58, which we then further cut to 17 finalists over the course of two days.
That is the statistical analysis. The reality is considerably more agonizing and also more inspiring than the mere numbers convey.
Getting down to 58 that first long day was easy compared to what would come.
We saw great work from diverse regions around the world. We saw all manner of formats, dealing with all kinds of content.
The best papers we saw were the ones whose journalism transcended their formats. Whether we were looking at tabs, Berliners or broadsheets, it was the visual storytelling — the photography, the graphics, the art direction — that we reacted to. At the very best designed papers, the designers and editors understand how to deftly go beyond the do-no-harm approach to design, helping support a clear editorial voice and amplifying the journalism, both visual and written.
In that incredibly diverse group of 17 finalists we found fantastic work.
A common refrain around the table was, “I wish this was my paper. I wish this landed on my doorstep each morning.”
Among the finalists, nearly every one had at least one judge championing its cause to move on—that’s how that’s how good they all are. And that’s how difficult it was to choose the papers that would ultimately be named world’s best.
In the end, the four we chose were unanimous selections, papers whose brilliance was inescapable to each judge, regardless of the different backgrounds we brought to the competition.
It was excruciating and exhilarating.
What set this group of papers apart was the consistency of the intensity and dedication they poured into the product—not just the cover or the front page, not just the section fronts, but every single page.
Here they are …
Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)
The average Dagens Nyheter is really beautiful and when they have something special to go after, they do it in such a big and beautiful way.
We’ve seen other publications have a beautiful baseline and then struggle when to go big, but that does not happen with this paper. The emphasis on order is the starting point for them; it’s not an end in itself. In this case they use it as a place to start.
Their illustrations are beautiful — amazingly contemporary and yet really true to their stories.
For example, look at the portrait of the Syrian refugee girl with a photograph of her grandfather. How many times have you seen that picture of someone holding a photograph of a dead relative? It’s a journalistic cliché. But they have made it this incredibly moving portrait.
They understand when to take their shots. We talked a lot about newsrooms that swing hard all the time. This is a newsroom that knows when to swing hard and when they do … whoa.
De Morgen (Belgium)
There is an energy that keeps running through this entire paper—there’s no tail off. The fronts are always a surprise, without an obvious template or formula. They are a delight.
De Morgen, a Flemish paper in Brussels, took the organization that we saw in Scandinavian papers infused it with so much life. It could so easily careen out of control but it never does.
It is incredibly detailed without being complicated. De Morgan exhibits a control over white spaces that many papers simply lose.
There is a near perfect balance between illustration and photography selection
The pages are filled with images of, often, solitary people. But the portraiture is never staid; instead they fill the paper with personalities.
The Guardian (Britain)
We came to The Guardian with an expectation that it would deliver great visual journalism, but even with those expectations it amazed us with its energy and how many surprises it delivered throughout.
It sets a standard for the industry in just about every discipline for a print publication.
It’s not just great typography, it’s smart words in the great typography, and it runs throughout this paper. And it’s not just great photography, it’s great photo editing to showcase that photography.
A great example of what this paper does is the front page on the day of the Scotland referendum on independence. They understand the moments, and they frame them in a way that makes the reader stop and take note.
For a paper with a reputation as a hard left, very serious paper, we found an awful lot of whimsy in there, too.
The range of this paper is incredible.
How many papers can toggle between calling out the government on going to war and then do a full-page whimsical World Cup illustration on their covers?
No matter which tool they’re using—typography, photography, illustration, art direction— they use it as well as anyone. And Politiken is doing it day in and day out.
They don’t take themselves too seriously. They take the news of the day seriously—regardless of what that news of the day is.
It is a paper that is daring and bold and fearless in their photo selection.
They strike an excellent balance between long-form and quick reads, and they pivot between them from page to page. They are exceedingly nimble.
World’s Best-Designed™ Digital
Judges: Fernando Diaz (The Center for Investigative Reporting), Ted Irvine (Vox Media), and Martina Schories, (Sueddeutsche Zeitung).
Speaking on behalf of the judges, Fernando Diaz announced the World’s Best Designed Digital News Site:
This year’s distinguished finalists have made indelible marks in the ever evolving nature of news. They are beautiful, informative, entertaining and useful. We find ourselves at a crossroads. Content is changing along with our audiences and their expectations. News is now more personal than ever. Content may be king, but attention is the coin of the realm.
This year we chose to embrace the superlative of World’s Best and award only one winner. We judged the finalists and dozens of others on content, audience, overall experience, performance, presentation, community and portability. We identified these criteria because we believe every news organization that matters already considers these in their strategy and all news organizations should.
You must be thoughtful and meaningful, but fast. You must be clear, engaging and engaged. You must be available anywhere and everywhere. Now, more than ever, your audience is in control.
From desktop to mobile to app, this year’s winner works. Everywhere. On anything. It provides a richer news experience than any one “site.” It is redefining “community,” by evolving our relationships with the news and each other. We must not only embrace this shift, but learn from it and evolve our organizations accordingly. It is the platform that you love, or hate, or love to hate. But increasingly cannot live without. This would not be possible without world class design.
This year’s winner is Facebook.