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The 2020 best of digital news design award winners show just how far editorial design has come.

The Society of News Design (SND) posted their awards for work published in 2020. No surprise that the New York Times cleaned house with…

The Society of News Design (SND) posted their awards for work published in 2020. No surprise that the New York Times cleaned house with all of their great work related to the pandemic. And they continued their sweep with many more long-form stories and specials like Who Gets to Breathe Clean Air in New Delhi? and The African-American Art Shaping the 21st Century. The former entry features a side-scrolling interface, but please don’t take that to mean carousels are back! I loved Reuters’ work on Wildfires: A devastated coast because of their use of the screen as a canvas meant to scroll. Take a look at this project and others in these awards and tell me the “fold” still exists!

Looking through more work, I’m inspired by the Marshall Project’s art direction for Mauled: When Police Dogs Are Weapons. And I was immediately pulled into the South China Morning Posts’ film China’s Rebel City: The Hong Kong Protests. There is a lot to look through and process.

It’s nice to see the SND catch up to modern times and celebrate the fantastic work that goes into the reportage, data science, and digital design — The new trifecta in solid journalism. The last time I paid attention to the SND awards was five years ago when I attended the event in Washington D.C. at the now-closed Newseum. During the awards, anything published online or considered interactive was referred to as “online multimedia graphics.” As if the newspaper industry had completely let digital transformation blow right past them all — oh, wait…

To demonstrate just how far SND has come in its evolution of acknowledging digital, I caught two projects that received awards, yet neither is primarily a journalistic story. The first is Blacklight, a tool from The Markup that scans websites for technology installed to track user behavior. The second is a typeface called “Climate Crisis Font” designed to represent “the percentual situation of the Arctic ice pack” from 1979 to 2050. The font’s weights are arranged by decade degrade like melted ice as you get closer to the last based on data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Wow, editorial design has sure come a long way!

Seeing the breadth and depth of the work submitted to the SND awards is very exciting. It makes me happy to see such a big field of innovation and new methods for reporting the news and telling stories. Whereas just a few years ago, the possibility of making a career as an editorial designer looked bleak, now it would seem the doors have been blown open.

One more thing. If you enjoyed reading this post and looking through the projects remember that journalism needs your support. Get your credit card out and become a subscriber. I pay good money to five newspapers, ten magazines, public radio, and a few newsletters because the world would absolutely, completely, and utterly suck without solid journalism. Step up and do your part.