Further thoughts from SND Boston 07

•November 26, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Here are some further thoughts from the SND Boston conference this year which I talked about in the first posting briefly.

Sections as loud, fast, and in-your-face as the games they cover. Featuring Vince Chiaramonte (The Buffalo News), Scott Minister (The Columbus Dispatch), and Alexandro Medrano (El Nuevo Excelsior). Traducido a español. Stanbro

Of course not all great design can be done over night, and one of the obvious points raised was that if there is enough lead in time to a story being published, coupled with resources being made available to the designer/journalist, and most importantly a passion for sport, then beautifully designed pages as shown below can be achieved.

The theme of passion for sport was raised over and over. It makes sense too. If you really love the work you are doing, you are more likely to put the effort and time into doing good work and doing justice to the story. It was obvious from the presentations that not only were they proud of the work they were producing these people were really passionate about the sports they were designing for. What a great combination.

The passion coupled with time and resources provides a major distinction between New Zealand newspapers sports sections and those on display at SND and on newspaper design blogs. In NZ there is a heavy reliance on stock photography or agency photography with little or no use of designers and illustrators. One of the auctions at the SND conference was for an illustration by one designer for your newspaper. Although I am not with a newspaper, I was going to donate it to either the ODT or the Press from New Zealand, just to show them what can be done. Some of the layouts shown below just wouldn’t even be considered in NZ. Which is a real pity as they add so much to the pleasure that one gets from Newspapers and only adds to the passion and drama that is sports. It’s not as if we don’t have the subject matter, we do, we just choose to resource and present the sports sections like all the other sections of the newspaper in NZ.

One interesting point was hammered home over and over, Infographics on their own do not tell a story. Good infographics can help, but there needs to be a context and more often than not they are used to support a story, rather than try to tell a story on their own.

I would love to see the day where an illustrator and graphic designer were assigned to each of the sections within a newspaper in NZ. Give these people the resources to be able to do not only the day to day stuff that adds to the news, but allow them the time and money to be able to produce the work of the sort of standard we see below. There is no doubt that this sort of work can be produced in NZ, it can, we just choose not to. In this time of falling readership and encroachment of other media sources it seems a shame to just take it and not take the initiative and create a richer newspaper environment in NZ.



•November 15, 2007 • Leave a Comment

For not wanting to feel like you are reading over Manuel’s shoulder [Fawlty Towers], pay a visit to the Latin chapter of the SND {Society of Newspaper Designers}.


I have absolutely no idea what is being said on those pages, but as the old proverb goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and good design can tell a story no matter what language it is in. The visual references that these guys put up is amazing, so much work stands on it’s own as pieces of design. Which I guess is the point of it all. A good designer should be able to tell a story, convey information, portray an event etc with the use of imagery. Many of the works shown are drawn from all over the world, but the fascinating thing about the variety of work, is how visually different regions of the world are, and which tools these regions are using to tell a story.

Take for instance this from http://www.lancenet.com.br

Unfortunately as is often the case, the web site [although nice] is a pale shadow of the print edition, and this layout is so different from anything that we would see in NZ papers that’s for sure.
Football from Lancenet.br

Apart from the fact that it’s a cartoon, when was the last time a double page spread was dedicated to any sport in NZ, let alone in such a manner that it works as a piece of design alone.

I love full page spreads like this, and contrary to what is thought, horizontal design is possible in the newspaper world, and even more so in the magazine world. In fact a great layout like this should be available for download as a stand alone spreads, if for nothing else for geeks like me {{ I’ve tried to get Matt from Idealog.co.nz to get some pdf or jpg layouts of his mag as stand alone images, they are stunning }}.

Contrast this with the Guardian. This is a typical spread from the sports section. It’s a great read, but that’s it – a read. It can’t be skimmed and has little or no value pinned on my sons football poster wall. It may very well be that the typical layout of the Lancet from Brazil is more along these lines than that of the image above, but it still speaks volumes to the contrasting styles of the papers and the culture of newspaper design between the two regions.


Meanwhile back in NZ, it’s not as if we don’t have the material to base good design on. I mean without a story to tell, this is otherwise just art [not that there’s anything wrong with that – thanks Sienfeld]. But take this layout for example. It’s a preview of the NBA season by Ernie Smith of the Virginian-Pilot.

NBA Layout

Looking for material to base this on we have the;

  1. Cricket Season
  2. The Rugby Season
  3. The Football Season
  4. The Netball Season
  5. The League Season
  6. Name your Season

These types of layouts are commonplace in many European and North American newspapers. They not only cover a story, they often act as a year long reference point, that quite often ends up on the wall of a child’s room, sports bar or office cafeteria. As they should.

I’d love to see the Press or one of the other papers actually spending the time and money to come up with these simple solutions to sports information. Surely this sort of layout wouldn’t be hard to sell to advertisers?

So don’t forget to go over to the Latin branch of the SND and feast on their stunning layouts.


•October 30, 2007 • Leave a Comment

I was lucky enough recently to attend the Society of Newspaper Designers annual conference and awards dinner in Boston. Not being of the industry but having had spent many years being a more than active reader [more like pursuer] of good magazine and newspaper design, this was a chance in a million to meet some of the people that have given me great pleasure and inspiration over the last few years. Besides which, much of my research is driven by what these guys are doing and how they are driving the intersection of news design and digital information.

There were many highlights over the weekend of which Mark Porter creative director of the Guardian was possibly the stand out for me personally. You also couldn’t get a more different approach to work and presentation than that of Mark on the saturday morning session and Chip Kidd on the friday morning session – but that’s another story.

For me some of the highlights that also stood out were those of whom I had had little knowledge or exposure to. Possibly one of the most visually inspiring was that of Scott Minister and Vince Chiaramonte. Although I had know of their stuff via www.newspagedesigner.com I was even more impressed with the marriage of the love of sports with that of design. Up until then I thought the two were bedfellows that wouldn’t be be sharing a douvet. However it was Scott’s (and others) emphasis on just how important to the design process the love of sport was to his work that I became even more inspired. Now to many people this isn’t new, and for some this may be downright boring, but I took much inspiration from these presentations, which you can download Scott’s here, and download Vince’s here.

Some inspiration from these two.

Scott Minister, the Columbus Dispatch


newspaper design


Bracket Attack

five bucks

And Vince Chiaramonte, The Buffalo News



bad blood





lance armstrong

newspaper design