2011 Medal comments


Sites were nominated by members and nonmembers through the Best of Digital Design entry site, self-nominated via the same site, submitted through suggestions and outreach by SND’s regional directors and from the Best of Digital judging team.

The Boston Globe, BostonGlobe.com

The Globe’s intrepid embrace of responsive design rewrites the equation of our industry’s expectations and ambitions and defines state-of-the-art across the Web.
The site embraces the increasingly chaotic ecosystem of devices without sacrificing thoughtfulness or splintering user experience.
Working with a team of external developers and designers at The Filament Group, Upstatement and Ethan Marcotte, the Boston Globe staff created a remarkably beautiful design that allows content to sing with typography and grids, also while functioning across all platforms – from mobile to full desktop – and even adapt to a 13-year-old Apple Newton MessagePad.
It’s no small feat. The Globe’s responsive design is remarkable and deserves to be noted as one of the key moments in media design history, akin to USA Today’s embrace of color and graphics. Its impact will affect a generation of digital journalists.


i. The New York Times, The 9/11 Tapes: The Story in the Air

Breaking/Daily News [Data project]


“Look at the restraint in the single-line excerpts that they use on the timeline … the simplicity of that. It allows you to know the story in so few characters. It’s really exquisite editing.”

ii. The New York Times, At the Metropolitan Museum, a New Wing, a New Vista

Features [Single-subject project]


“It gives you a really great sense of completion about what you have tackled and what you will tackle.”


Breaking/Daily News [Data project]

i. The Boston Globe, Results of the Globe’s fish testing

“This is really useful for the people who live in Boston. If you want to eat fish, this tells you exactly where you should go and where you should avoid.”

Features [Single-subject project]

ii. NPR, Visualizing How a Population Grows to 7 Billion

“One of the biggest struggles you have with a narrative graphic is, ‘How do you keep the graphics on the screen at the right pace, so that the reader doesn’t feel like she is watching something static on the screen while listening?’ A narrative graphic is very different from a video.”

iii. The New York Times, The Marathon Route’s Evolving Neighborhoods

“It’s better than running through it in real life …”

iv. University of North Carolina, Coal: A Love Story


Special events

v. The New York Times, The Reckoning

“There’s depth here. There’s humanity here. There’s tons of different ways to navigate through it … They had to rise to this story because of who they were, and they met it.”

vi. The New York Times, The Oscars

“They saw a gap. People who are going to watch [the Oscars] can have a companion.”

Portfolio: Organization

vii. The New York Times

Portfolio: Individual

viii. Tom Giratikanon, The Boston Globe


i. The Boston Globe, for embracing responsive design

Much of the past 17 years of news design on the Web has been spent mapping analog conventions to digital experiences, sometimes quite crudely. The Globe site is a refreshing shift away from crafting news design as a single artifact and toward news design as an organism that responds to context, to device and to the user.

ii. Chicago Now, for reductive, adaptive design

The Chicago Now redesign is a reductive refresh that rejects the conventions of a traditional newspaper-driven layout. The designers ruthlessly eliminated cruft and elevated the importance of content. At the story level, content is king, sharing space with a sensible branding system and little else. Above all, it solves all of these problems within the context of an adaptive design. This redesign is an impressive upgrade and an example of thoughtful, forward progress in digital news presentation.

iii. The Roanoke Times and Other Smaller Organizations, for overall creativity

Telling great stories and designing successful experiences is never easy. Whether the team or the organization is small, limited resources can limit but they can also inspire great creativity. Several small teams and organizations stood out in this year’s competition. The Roanoke Times is emblematic of the challenges of a smaller community and team. Roanoke’s coverage is deep within their community. The multimedia storytelling explores highly personal issues and forces viewers to confront issues that rarely surface in their daily lives. Another organization, The National Post translated its humor and whimsy to their audience’s digital experience. Whether it was Muppets facing off in fan voting or an interactive gallery of 40 faces of Harrison Ford, the Post’s voice is clear and engaging. La Informacion consistently challenges conventional thinking about informational graphics viewed on digital platforms. The visual storytelling is bold, the illustrations vivid. The Dallas Morning News manages to explore many different storytelling directions including sports-related games, tracking local food trucks or voting on for their favorite Mavericks cheerleader. These were not the only small organizations that show great promise and not all the storytelling was equally or evenly polished but the intent and the passion are clear.


Jonathon Berlin, Chicago Tribune and SND president
Brian Ellcierto, The Globe and Mail
Chiqui Esteban, Lainformacion.com
Jennifer George-Palilonis, Ball State University
Jeremy Gilbert, Northwestern University
Joey Marburger, The Washington Post
Ryan Mark, Chicago Tribune
Sara Quinn, Poynter Institute
Rob Schneider, The Dallas Morning News
Will Sullivan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
David Wright, NPR
Ben Wuersching, The Guardian
Chrys Wu, Matchstrike

Jeremy Gilbert, Northwestern University
Ryan Sparrow, Ball State University

Judging was held in February 2012 at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.