2020 Best in Show

A group of 21 judges from around the world selected three stories from small, medium and large newsrooms for Best in Show honors in the Society for News Design’s 42 edition creative competition, the Best of Digital News Design. The Best in Show winners are:

“Who gets to breathe clean air in New Delhi” won two gold medals in the competition for Information Graphics — Environment & Science and Story Page Design – International categories. “Your climate future” won a silver medal for the Story Page Design — Environment & Science category and “No epicentro” won a bronze medal for the Best storytelling, multimedia or interactive tools for readers or journalists category.

The Best of Digital News Design™ is a juried contest honoring visual and technical excellence in storytelling, graphics, social media and product design. The competition awarded 12 gold medals, 37 silver medals, 102 bronze medals, 551 awards of excellence to work from more than 120 publications. The winners came from 1,764 entries.

Best in Show (large newsrooms)

The New York Times | “Who gets to breathe clean air in New Delhi” 

Judges noted: “This piece conveys both the human story and the environmental story, interweaving them seamlessly. The video vignettes and restrained color-coding take you inside Monu and Aamya’s lives, illuminating the similarities and disparities—all the while, creating a creeping sense of how air pollution pervades all they do. Gripping in all the right ways.”

One judge called it “an absolute masterclass on how to weave maps, photography and data into the telling of a compelling story,” and another cited it “the shining example of what’s possible in visual journalism: the story is so engaging you are pulled in and you read through without noticing that it weaves tremendous amounts of data (whose collection and analysis was a herculean effort in itself), with videos, charts, photographs, text, animation and user interface elements. All this is done completely in service to the narrative and the integration across all possible multimedia formats is completely seamless.”

A third judge concluded: “This piece has stayed with me throughout the competition — in my opinion, it’s the perfect example of what our jobs can be: combining data visualization, audio, video and text to create a truly immersive, moving experience.”

Best in Show (medium-size newsrooms)

NRK | “Your climate future” 

In a note to judges, NRK described the premise of the project: To allow a reader to experience climate change as a local, with its impact close in time or close in area. The story explores how the livelihoods in each municipality of Norway will change towards the end of the century due to climate alterations. An animated character serves as the reader’s companion throughout the story. The mobile-friendly project included 356 data-driven, illustrated and animated long-feature articles.

Judges appreciated the use of engaging, accessible, and even humorous illustrated storytelling to show Norwegians the impact of climate change. “Customizing the story and data your exactly location drives home that this will be happening to you and your descendants. This piece is a perfect mix: entertaining, memorable, useful, and personal.”

Another judge said: “Bringing disparate datasets of the most daunting and complex topic of our time and presenting it in a relatable, personal, and non-overwhelming fashion is a huge achievement.” And the highest compliment: “I want one for my city!”

Best in Show (small newsrooms)

Agência Lupa | “No epicentro” 

As noted to judges in its entry: Agência Lupa faced a similar challenge as many news organizations in how to visualize the alarming number of of Covid-19 deaths, as noted to judges in its entry. Because major outbreaks happened in metropolitan areas and many Brazilians didn’t see the effects of the disease in their daily lives, Agência Lupa created a simulation to make the losses easier to understand: What if all these deaths had happened near you?.

One judge noted: “Media outlets have struggled with expressing the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic in visceral terms: this is as close as we’ve got to do so.”

Judges also applauded the “clear narrative concept, for a much-needed message, executed with state-of-the-art craftsmanship. Any readers coming across this on the internet would stop in their tracks and learn something new about a news statistic they probably thought they already understood.”

Another called it incredibly compelling: “Using the tool I saw my entire small hometown decimated, wiped out completely by April 3rd. It encapsulated earnestly the devastating loss around us For me, the dots became more than a face in a crowd in a distant city — they became every single one of my neighbors, the children playing in the street, the mail person and my parents.”