2020 Facilitators Q&A

Like most things, volunteering for the digital competition looked a little bit different this year. Here’s what three volunteers had to say about their experience.

Courtney Kan is a projects editor at the Washington Post. This is her 4th time volunteering with the competition.

Stephanie Hays is a a designer at The Seattle Times where she works on daily pages, features and occasionally digital projects. This is her second time volunteering with the competition.

Fernanda Didini is an art director and dataviz designer. This is her first time volunteering with the competition.


How did you get involved with SND? Have you volunteered with the competition before?

CK: I first got involved through attending SND conferences and writing for SND.org. I also served as the editor of SND.org from 2015-2016.

SH: Aviva Loeb and Paige Connor both flagged me down at a college journalism conference I was at several years ago and told me how wonderful it is to be in an organization with other news designers and convinced me to join.

FD: I collected and used the Best of Print News Design and Malofiej Competitions yearbooks as inspiration and a way to see what other designers were doing worldwide. Since I started my print magazine career, yearbooks were my library because we didn’t have access to magazines from other countries.

What will you take back to your job from this experience?

CK: Inspiration. Volunteering at this competition provides a great opportunity to see work from around the world that is pushing visual storytelling and product design forward. Especially in a year like 2020 where the news cycle was relentless, there are so many great projects that I missed.

SH: Oddly enough, a big thing is how to handle logistics for a lot of people in different time zones. It has been a big challenge bringing in volunteers and judges from across the world, but is totally worth it. And of course, listening to the judges discuss what entries deserve an award and what don’t is incredibly valuable. Hearing what other people pick up on in pieces and are looking for is such a good fresh perspective.

FD: The medal discussions are very detailed. It’s good to hear the judges analyzing each project from the technology behind the pieces to the overall consistency. It feels like a design class with the best teachers.

Do you have a personal favorite entry that you’ve seen so far? Why?

SH: I probably have to say this piece from The New York Times about clean air in New Delhi. It’s won a lot of awards and for good reason. My jaw dropped when this came out and every time I look at it afterward it still has a big impact. You really feel for those kids who have to deal with that much air pollution. But I also thought this piece from Ruptly about the Dyatlov group was a really compelling way to tell a historical mystery and it was incredibly engaging.

FD: This Dante’s Circle piece from TASS was well designed — pretty illustrations, nice colors, and lots of details.

What does volunteering virtually look like for you? Does it have any advantages?

SH: A lot of moving up and down the stairs to work at either the kitchen table or my desk. And what can feel like an infinite number of slack messages. The biggest advantage for sure though is that we have volunteers from across the world. Having their perspective is really great, and also wonderful to add more people to the SND Digital team!

Have you noticed any design trends that seemed to shape the way we told stories in 2020?

FD: I think there is an immersive experience from some pieces that was not just a trend but also a necessity to bring the readers to a physical place that we are apart. Articles like this New York Times piece that mimics the museum experience and others that use videos/animated images to mimic real-life movement are stuck in my mind.