Sunday, 19 February 2012

The best designed newspapers in the world

The annual awards for the world's best designed newspapers have just finished. The top prizes in the Society of News Design's 33rd annual competition went to the Excelsior (Mexico), the National Post and The Grid (both Canada), Politiken (Denmark) and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (Germany). There are some innovative pages as always so it's certainly worth a look around the SND site.
Meanwhile, here are a few of my thoughts and observations:
i) The winners are all expansive, graphic, fond of white space, not obsessed with story count ... and there isn't a single advert in sight (honestly, not one).

ii) All are worth a look but the National Post from Toronto (above) really catches the eye - bold and original work here.   
iii) There were 10,131 entries from 39 countries.
iv) The US had the most category winners with 338.
v) It's the fifth year in a row that UK newspapers have failed to really impress. We had eight category winners out of 717, which made us 12th in the countries' league table, but none made it to the last 24 in the top category. The Independent on Sunday was awarded two Awards of Excellence in the breaking news category for its pages on the Japanese Earthquake and the Norwegian massacre, the FT won a clutch of awards for its magazine pages and the Sunday Herald in Glasgow also picked up an Award of Excellence.
vi) The last UK newspaper to be named as one of the world's best was The Guardian in 2007. Previous UK newspapers named in the category include The Guardian (2005, 2007), Independent on Sunday (2001, 2002, 2003), the Glasgow Herald (2003), The European (1997), The Scotsman (1994, 1996, 1997) and The Daily Telegraph (1994, 1995).
vii) Arab newspaper design has made great strides this year with Oman (49) and UAE (35) coming in as the third and fourth countries behind America and Canada. I worked with some young journalist at the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan last year and the increasing importance they put on design is evident. Mario Garcia takes a particular look at the pages from the Times of Oman here and there is a neat slide show here.
viii) Garcia also highlights the excellent infographics of Simon Scarr of the South China Morning Post which received nine awards.
xi) Finally, I was surprised, when looking through the SND site to find an American judge leading the discussion on the Washington Post's business page which won a Gold Medal in the business page design category. Here is the video.
What had me perplexed was the fact is he is wearing a Newcastle United shirt from the 2006-2007 season. A bit of digging and I found out he is Steve Cavendish , editor of the City Paper in Nashville and a committed Newcastle United fanatic. We made contact on Twitter and he says he was captivated by "the Entertainers" in the Keegan years and has been a fan ever since. Steve joins an illustrious band of Toon Army hacks including myself, David Bourn, Paul Robertson, Chris Rushton, Tim Williams, Richard Bowyer, Laurie Allsopp, Neil Hacking, Ged Clarke, Mark Duell ... but so far he is the only international one I have heard of. If you know of any others, please let me know.
Footnote: Astonishingly, since I originally wrote this, South China Morning Post graphic artist Simon Scarr has been in touch (see comment below) to say he too is a Newcastle supporter. Any more?


  1. Hmm... all a bit predictable, given the overwhelming American bias of the judging panel. The trouble is, most of the example pages not only don't have any advertising, they don't have much news either.
    There are some fabulous graphics and some great design ideas (I love Politiken's hand-drawn page) but most of the pages on the SND slideshows are really magazine designs containing features and analysis. They have a place in newspapers, of course, but it's not the whole story. Where are the pages with the news?
    Great graphics by Simon Scarr - and good to see a paper than can still afford to give them the space they deserve.

  2. Hi Peter, this is Simon Scarr... someone pointed me to your blog post about our work. First of all thanks for the kind words. But most importantly, I am also a Newcastle fan. Born and raised in the North East. Another supporter to add to that list...