With the newspaper industry struggling with the mammoth task of redefining its role in the modern media landscape, many are still tolling the bell to announce its demise. But amid all the chatter of business models, digital-first content and salvation by apps, discussion about how papers actually look can get swept under the carpet. Thankfully the Society of News Design holds an annual awards programme to recognise the very best work out there and last week announced the winners – see who they are and why they won here…
Excelsior (Mexico City, Mexico)
The judges were impressed by this paper’s “sophisticated typography, bold color palette and overall visual energy” and the way the hectic pace of Mexican life was captured in its pages.
“This is a paper with a lot going on — lots of stories, sidebars and breakouts along with lots of photographs and graphics. It’s who they are. That they’re able to bring order to this potential chaos without dulling their edge is a testament to the care they take on every page…It grabs you and doesn’t let you go from the first page until the last.
They were also impress with the way Excelsior “ably adjusts the volume as the content demands” and said: “There is a small, but smart personality shift in each of the sections. It’s an acknowledgment of the change in content but done skillfully enough without making the paper as a whole feel disjointed.”
National Post (Toronto, Canada)
The Post, according to the judges, “lures its readers in with a sultry beauty, and then captivates them with an authoritative attitude” and is remarkable for its “excellence in, and devotion to, true visual storytelling.”
“The base structure of the Post is well-defined and delivers a stunning, unique look, starting with the vertical nameplate on Page 1 and continuing with the horizontal “workspace” at the top of each inside page. This space’s diversity, with the bold use of horizontal images, breakout information or strong quotes — adds a dynamic start to every page in the book.”
And this attention to detail dovetails with its instinctive feel for its readers: “This is a paper that knows when to whisper, and knows when to shout. It chooses its words, pictures, graphics and illustrations with care. "
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (Frankfurt, Germany)
It’s not the first time the FAS has been recognised in these awards and the old German master apparently shows no sign of relinquishing its status as one of the best around.
It is praised for its “elegant photography and typography that give it an authoritative look that appeals to a discerning readership. Bold photo crops, superb illustrations and near-perfect page production make inside pages as compelling as its section covers or even its front page.
“FAS layers its stories, many of them running three or four full columns, with excellent photojournalism, vibrant illustrations, and clear, direct information graphics that are laid into the body of the stories both to provide a visual break and enhance the elegantly displayed prose.
It pulls off the trick of managing to stay high-end and dynamic, thanks to: “Excellent portrait photography, superb photo editing, brilliantly crafted illustrations, a disciplined use of its signature red and blue color pallet, plus a variety of story forms compel visitors to pay attention to every page.”
The Grid (Toronto, Canada)
The Grid is the pugnacious upstart crashing in with its big bold style and guerilla slogan: “Good sh*t is happening – lots and lots of it,” and it’s no nonsense approach has swept the judges along too – they say the paper’s slogan could apply to itself as much as the city it covers.
“The design is minimalistic and the cool, restrained and exclusive fonts are Tiempo for body copy, and the logo face and display fonts are Fakt. What really makes this publication a different visual experience for the reader are the many tiny informative graphic details throughout the pages. It must be extremely time-consuming doing these pages, but it works so well for the reader. Specific keywords are highlighted with yellow; small locator maps show where to find the spot mentioned in the presentation.
“The Grid also surprises with sparse but great inside photography on full spreads. Our favorite was the fantastic photo of a line at a hotdog stand — and the photo goes on through four straight pages. This is a wonderful surprise for the reader.
“This publication really catches you and it will not let you go. Any big city with respect for itself should get a “good sh*t” guerrilla guide like this. Right now.”
Politiken (Copenhagen, Germany)
Although at 127 years old Politiken is a venerable old publication, a re-design in December to “appeal to readers in a fresh and modern way with the goals of improved navigation and usability” was hailed by teh judges a s a great success.
“Each front page has an atypical visual approach or solution – from documentary photojournalism to caricature. Great attention has been given to type decisions, even down to the smallest details.
“Extra white space above and below headlines, body text and leading choices for optimum readability indicate the reader experience comes first. The simplicity of the byline styles and columnist sigs adds to the paper’s elegant visage.”
Particularly impressive was the combination of a lively visual syntax that doesn’t descend into confusion.
The judges said: “Pages are full of multiple entry points and provocative illustrative work. Color is used to step readers through stories and columns.
“Politiken is a model for the power of visual consistency throughout a newspaper.”