SND 42 Best of Digital News Design live results

Judging for SND’s Best of Digital Design competition is Feb. 25-27. Winners will be announced throughout the weekend. Check this post regularly for updates on medal winners and award tallies.

Full results can be found at, and make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram to see silver and gold medal winners along with judges’ comments.

For a full overview of how the judging process works, read this Q&A.

The Society for News Design is proud to announce results from its Best of Digital Design contest, which started in 2002 and is part of the 42nd edition of the news design creative competition. SND invited 21 judges from across the United States and around the globe to review 1,764 entries (a record amount). Judging is taking place virtually this year, with judges spread across more than 10 timezones and working from four continents. More than 100 organizations from 26 countries entered the competition.

The digital design competition uniquely honors journalistic, visual and technical excellence for work produced in 2020. Winners of World’s Best Designed™, World’s Best Designer and Best in Show will be announced in the weeks following the competition.

China’s Wildlife Trade by South China Morning Post. View the piece here.

Awards of Excellence Winners

Recognizes outstanding and excellent visual storytelling. These entries go beyond mere technical or aesthetic competency and may push the boundaries of originality and creativity.

For full results visit

Total: 551
2. Story Page Design: 130
3. Information Graphics: 114
4. Format: 174
5. Line of Coverage: 38
6. Product Design: 27
7. Experimental Design: 13
8. Portfolio:

Bronze medal winners

Recognizes visual storytelling at the leading edge of craftsmanship or innovation. These entries should demonstrate technical mastery, aesthetic mastery, or both. Entries receiving a Bronze Medal must have an elevated level of execution, originality or degree of difficulty.

For full results visit

This story explained systematic racism in an effective way. The consistent use of color and illustration that elevated the project overall. It’s a nice execution of illustration and the medium. View the piece here.

Total: 102
2. Story Page Design: 20
3. Information Graphics: 32
4. Format: 21
5. Line of Coverage: 13
6. Product Design: 6
7. Experimental Design: 0
8. Portfolio: 10

Silver medal winners

The aesthetic and technical proficiency of these entries should stretch the limits of the medium — representing an elevated level of execution and originality in pursuit of powerful storytelling. It should be nearly impossible to find anything deficient.

For full results visit

The New York Times’ “How a Massive Bomb Came Together in Beirut’s Port” article was the first Silver Medal awarded. Judges’ comments include, “That transition from 3D to satellite image is almost perfect, both mobile and desktop.” View the piece here.

Total: 37
2. Story Page Design: 9
3. Information Graphics: 8
4. Format: 4
5. Line of Coverage: 5
6. Product Design: 1
7. Experimental Design: 1
8. Portfolio: 9

Gold medal winners

Visual storytelling that defines the state of the art. These entries must stretch the limits of creativity both visually and technically. They must be groundbreaking in both form and fit — telling their story in the most powerful way imaginable. It should be perfect or as near as one can reasonably come. Any entry receiving this award should be held up as the gold standard for the design community.

For full results visit

Total: 12
2. Story Page Design: 3
3. Information Graphics: 3
4. Format: 2
5. Line of Coverage: 3
6. Product Design: 0
7. Experimental Design: 0
8. Portfolio: 1

2 Gold Medals to The New York Times for its piece “Who Gets to Breathe Clean Air in New Delhi?”

The New York Times’ “Who Gets to Breathe Clean Air in New Delhi?” article was the first Gold Medal awarded. Judges’ comments include, “There was perfect attention to detail. You can’t pick out anything that’s slightly subpar.” View the piece here.

Gold Medal to The New York Times for its piece “The African-American Art Shaping the 21st Century”

Judges said: “Something is so good about how they displayed it like a museum. So hard to stop and look at anything on the internet, but this made me stop. It touches that emotional button. It gave me chills when things were scrolled and revealed.”

Gold Medal to NRC Media for its piece Illegal with friends. The lives of Ali and Amadu.

Judges said: The project was incredibly charming, delightful, well executed and surprising. There are a lot of stories about immigration and this was so intimate. You felt like you were getting to know these guys. The way the images were manipulated is an incredible feat that is groundbreaking as is the innovative approach to bring the sketchy style, audio and technical aspect together. I haven’t seen anything quite like it.

Gold Medal to The New York Times for its piece  “Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count”

Judges said: In a crisis, we don’t want to overwhelm people for the information they need. This is not a visually flashy piece, but exercises an admirable amount of restraint to give people the most relevant information. You don’t need to think hard how to interpret the information presented. They are clear, concise, and give people the information they need quickly and help people assess what the danger is wherever they live. It was such a monumental effort to collect the data themselves while pulling it together so quickly. They’ve had to adapt, provide more context, and add more useful things to the tracker as time went on. I can imagine gathering this data by state is a mess. This dashboard shaped the visual reporting and data of covid in the U.S. for the Times, and for everyone else. It allowed everyone else to be creative and add flashier things because this piece raised the bar. Making this data publicly available is a service and accomplishment. The way this piece influenced the Times’ reporting is absolutely commendable.

Gold Medal to The Washington Post for its piece “Why outbreaks like coronavirus spread exponentially, and how to “flatten the curve””

Judges said: The Washington Post’s ‘Flatten the Curve’ story was one of the best pieces of the last year. The animation, charts, and simulations set a standard; this was created early in the process of understanding prevention of spreading coronavirus. It is state of the art because it is perfectly executed, and it was an elegant solution to a complicated problem. People shared this, and it helped people understand the context of prevention. Readers were able to read and think about the real consequences of the charts.

Gold Medal to The Marshall Project for its piece “Welcome to the Zo”

Judges said: It has the potential to reach a broader audience because the characters are personal enough where they feel like people you would know … but they’re not quite individual people, so you can almost see yourself in them, which I think is what’s great about the cartoon and graphic novel medium. It offered variety and I love the way it builds on itself. It gets messier but moves to a new frame and you can tell it’s really difficult to kind of execute, so they did such a great job that I wanted to spend time watching them all. I think it definitely stretches the limits usually and technically and I definitely think it’s groundbreaking in form.

Gold Medal to The New York Times in Line of Coverage: Long-form series

How the Virus Got Out | An Incalculable Loss | How the Virus Won | How a Massive Bomb Came Together in Beirut’s Port | Charting an Empire: A Timeline of Trump’s Finances | The Swamp That Trump Built | Who Gets to Breathe Clean Air in New Delhi?

Judges said: With long-form it’s hard to keep readers engaged but they were able to take a massive amount of reporting and inspire a busy reader to make it to the end because of the huge range of these entries. We also appreciated the mastery of the graphics married to video which is difficult and cutting edge. The way they blended the video loops with annotations in the bombing presentation to see the particulates, slowed it down frame by frame to point out what was going on and show the rate at which it happened is spot on. There was also so much reporting about Trump’s financing.The ability to zoom into certain points that provided information on The Apprentice being a big moment but also shows his companies are losing more on a whole in addition to the well done swing animation. A stunning group of long-form visual journalism.

Gold Medal to The New York Times for Line of Coverage: Public Service – Trackers

Coronavirus World Map: Tracking the Global Outbreak | Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count | The Pandemic’s Hidden Toll: Half a Million Deaths | See Coronavirus Restrictions and Mask Mandates for All 50 States | 527,000 More U.S. Deaths Than Normal Since Covid-19 Struck | One-Third of All U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Nursing Home Residents or Workers | Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker | More Than One-Third of U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Are Linked to Nursing Homes | Tracking the Coronavirus at U.S. Colleges and Universities | Track Coronavirus Cases in Places Important to You | How Full Are Hospital I.C.U.s Near You? | See How the Vaccine Rollout Is Going in Your State

Judges said: What the New York Times accomplished is the definition of public service. They covered every angle possible with trackers, and they updated the trackers consistently as time went on. The Times took on tracking numbers throughout the world, and made the information available for other organizations. Anything that’s possible to track or update, the New York Times does it and does it perfectly. We started to think about what to cover with covid data because they gave us the baseline on how to be excellent. The scale and ambition is a monumental public service. This is the gold standard.

Gold Medal to The New York Times for Line of Coverage: Public Service – Inequality

Bird’s Eye View of Protests Across the U.S. and Around the World | How Black Lives Matter Reached Every Corner of America | Here Are the 100 U.S. Cities Where Protesters Were Tear-Gassed | The Fullest Look Yet at the Racial Inequity of Coronavirus | How Decades of Racist Housing Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering | Who Gets to Breathe Clean Air in New Delhi? | How the Police Killed Breonna Taylor

Judges said: This is an absolutely insane effort to utilize visual journalism to bring context to huge issues, not just in America, but all over the world. It is amazing that they use a wide range of visual techniques, from drone footage, mapping, and data journalism, to cover a story in every perspective in the best possible way. It is all in service of bringing context to issues that are at the heart of problems in society. The creativity and visual storytelling behind these stories is what we want the future to look like. The way they cover the micro and macro scales of these stories, even in the absence of good information, is so incredibly impressive.

Gold Medal to The New York Times for its non-virus portfolio of graphics

Here are the 100 us cities where protesters were tear gassed | N.Y.P.D. Says It Used Restraint During Protests. Here’s What the Videos Show. | How a Massive Bomb Came Together in Beirut’s Port | Biden Wins | Who Gets to Breathe Clean Air in New Delhi? | How the Police Killed Breonna Taylor

Judges said: This portfolio is state of the art. Not only the range of visual excellence, but the range of different topics they cover. They go all in on every topic they presented here in the best way possible. They were able to quality work as coronavirus unfolded. This is a way of rewarding the New York Times for its devotion of resources to visual journalism in order to tell these stories. All of the pieces are perfect and the definition of graphics. In these pieces, there was emotional, creative, and emphatic work.These are the examples we would point to as best of the best.

Gold Medal to Politiken in Format: Use of Photography or Photo Story for its piece “Blue Sky”

Judges said: I had one of the strongest emotional connections to this, despite not having a person in the photographs. I gasped when I got to the grid of all the skies. News outlets should be showcasing stuff like this, absolutely. I was blown away. The sky is all around us, but when you see it through this lens, in this presentation, it makes you pause and appreciate all the different ways that it shows up. We’re in this pandemic, we’re looking for something to spend some time with that feels meaningful. It’s a history project, but it’s so of-the-moment. It was really exciting to see this completely new concept.

Best in Show

SND Digital’s Best in Show recognizes the best individual entries from the entire competition. All 21 judges weigh in on each award. Best in Show awards are divided by organizational size to take challenges that differently-sized newsrooms face into consideration. As a result, three “Best in Show” awards will be given — one for small organizations, one for medium organizations, and one for large organizations.

Best in Show winners will be announced in the weeks following the competition.

‘World’s Best Designed™’ and ‘Designer’

Each year, the highest goal of this competition is to identify work that has fundamentally shifted or improved how news and information is delivered across digital platforms.

World’s Best-Designed™ is one of SND’s oldest and most prominent awards. For the first time, SND will also award World’s Best Designer.

The winners will be announced in the weeks following the competition.

Meet the Judges

A team of 21 judges was selected by the Digital Design Competition Committee to evaluate each entry on how well it accomplishes its editorial and design objectives. SND strives for diversity in judges, who are are journalism, new media and design experts from around the world. If judges have any apparent conflicts of interest on particular entries, they will not be assigned to evaluate those entries.

Read more about how judging works. For full bios, visit

News 1

  • Jane Pong, Bloomberg
  • Rebecca Pazos, Straits Times
  • Agnes Chang, ProPublica

News 2

  • Martin Frobisher, Tampa Bay Times
  • Lily Mihalik, Politico
  • Alexandre Lage, Globoesporte

Graphics 1

  • Dawn Cai, The New York Times
  • Julius Troger, Zeit Online
  • Xaquin GV, Visualization for Transparency Foundation

Graphics 2

  • Priya Krishnakumar, CNN
  • Brian Jacobs, National Geographic
  • Darla Cameron, Texas Tribune


  • Jan Diehm, The Pudding
  • Corinne Chin, Seattle Times
  • Mike Grant, Get Current Studio


  • Tiffany Middleton, FanDuel
  • Tony Elkins, USA Today
  • Reed Reibstein, Philadelphia Inquirer


  • Aly Hurt, NPR
  • Ryan Murphy, LA Times
  • Renate Rognan, NRK

Judging takeaways

Professional volunteer Mary Freda (left) talks to Simon Scarr (second from left) with Reuters, Kennedy Elliott (second from right) with National Geographic and Jan Diehm (right) with The Pudding about what they’ve seen at SND’s Digital Design Competition on Feb. 7, 2020.

Each year, we interview the judges for the Best of Digital Design competition and talk to them about the judging process. To read about what the judges from last year’s competition had to say about the process, what work stood out to them and trends they hope to see more of, visit Keep an eye on this space as we will post interviews with this year’s judges once the competition is off and running.

Facilitators and Volunteers

This year the Competition Committee included 10 people from newsrooms across the country. The committee works on a variety of tasks, including choosing judges and deciding the categories of entry.

There are also over a dozen volunteers to help keep things running smoothly, handling everything from social media to helping facilitate to dealing with logistics.

The Competition Committee includes Ryan Sparrow, SND Executive Committee Programs representative; Anna Boone, Star Tribune Digital Designer; Heather Donahue, Creative Director; Jeremy Gilbert, Knight Chair in Digital Media Strategy, Northwestern University; Brian Gross, Washington Post Deputy Design Director; Stephanie Hays, Seattle Times Designer; Yue Qiu, Bloomberg Graphics Team Leader; Sisi Wei, Open News Director of Programs; Mary Freda, The Times of Northwest Indiana Reporter; Simon Scarr, Deputy Head of Reuters Graphics.

Volunteers include Stephanie Redding, Washington Business Journal Senior Designer; Julia Terbrock, Washington City Paper Creative Director; Courtney Kan, Washington Post Projects Editor; Megan McCrink, Art Director at Politico; Clare Ramirez, Washington Post Designer; Laurie Lawrence, Creative Director at American City Business Journals; Michelle Bloom, Editor for Off-Platform Visuals at Politico; Fernanda Didini, Freelance, Formerly NBC; Aviva Loeb, Washington Post Designer; Emily Wright, Washington Post Designer; Alistair Walker, Production Editor at Politico Europe; Hilary Fung, Product Lead for Data Visualization and Interactive Storytelling at The San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst; Matt Callahan Washington Post Design Editor; Amy Coval, Student at Northwestern University; Claire Kuwana, Student at Northwestern University; Skye Doherty, Journalism and Interaction Design Researcher at The University of Queensland; Stephanie Adeline, Data Journalist at The Straits Times.

For more information, check out these frequently asked questions.

Where We’re Located

This year, for the first time, the competition is being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to holding the competition in person again when it is safe to do so.

Sohail al-Jamea (left) with McClatchy, Umi Syam (middle) The New York Times and Tiffany Middleton (right) with ESPN judge features entries at the SND Digital Design Competition Feb. 9.

Recap of SND41

Last year 14 judges reviewed 1,315 entries from around the world. They awarded 392 Awards of Excellence, 92 Bronze Medals, 36 Silver Medals and 3 Gold Medals.

The World’s Best-Designed™ winner was The Washington Post. Finalists included the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, New York Magazine, California Sunday Magazine and their Pop-Up Magazine, New York Times Cooking, The Guardian’s Membership Experience Design, Vox’s video explainers, and South China Morning Post’s Information Graphics.

For all of last year’s results, visit

Photos by Stephanie Hays | SND Best of Digital Design Competition Committee


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