SND and Nick – What I learned this weekend

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some preconceived thoughts on what exactly SND was going to be like. I’m happy to report that it far exceeded my expectations and proved to be very beneficial to my mind as a designer.

While I had known news design has certain trends, it’s a completely different experience to see those trends repeated across different magazines as they are laid out next to each other on a table. The amount of caricature drawings and rainbow color schemes I saw over the course of three days was nothing short of astonishing to me. Even the publications that are known to break out of the box and be unique failed to be overly impressive when paired next to other publications doing something very similar.

The most interesting thing I noticed during SND, and in particular during the medal consideration discussions was how critical the judges were. First, there were designs that I particularly enjoyed and thought were impressive, but after hearing the judges talk I was able to more clearly pick out the particular details that hurt some designs and elevated others. What was most intriguing to me were seeing the judges applaud a particular design, really fighting for it and then when the question came up if it deserved silver or, rarely, a gold it was a unanimous “No.” That kind of confidence in the level of a particular design was fascinating and I definitely left with a better taste myself in what constitutes good/bad design.

I’m very glad this was the year that online judging was taking place. At Newhouse I’ve been exposed to the multimedia longform stories such as The New York Times’ “Snowfall” and I am endlessly fascinated at the manner in which stories and traditional news can be relayed with technology. While the category was small this year I can’t help but think about the next 1-3 years as it expands tremendously. I think we’ll see a shift in the future of the industry into incorporating more of the features seen in tablets, smartphones, and the web in general to create a new experience that is more interactive and engaging than ever before.

SND was a fantastic experience and I left with dozens of photos of both what not to do and what to do with my own designs, for this class and the future. As I prepare to leave Newhouse and craft my portfolio and work in the future I’ll be able to look back at this weekend and cite the foundational things I learned at SND.

• 1. Humor

This illustration of a squirrel Shakespeare had me giggling for a solid few minutes.

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• 2. the most compelling photo you saw

This picture of one of the victims of the Boston Bombing is one of the most compelling images I saw during SND. The way it is framed in an elevator as he goes to physical therapy with his mother and the look on his face just convey the emotion and trauma he experienced.

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• 3. bad thinking

I think this was from “Times of Oman” but am not entirely sure. It was an infographic of the Unite Nations and the year in which a country joined. It’s such a chaotic mess of multicolored lines that I don’t even try to read it and instead gloss over all the lines.

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• 4. innovative thinking

Andrea Levy was given free reign for a section in “The Plain Dealer” called OpinionArt where she not only does the art and design but the writing as well. As an Arts Journalist this review of “Gravity” was fantastic and really got me thinking about how to convey a review in an interesting way.

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• 5. a judge or facilitator who traveled more than 1000 miles to be here

The lovely Virginia England who came from Mississippi to be a facilitator.

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• 6. favorite thing you ate

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Chicken, roasted potatoes, veggies, fruit, salad and bread. The fantastic dinner from Saturday was my favorite thing I ate.

• 7. best magazine cover you saw

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Thursday Magazine had a number of amazing covers on their magazine but this one titled “The Natural Cure” made up of blocks of meat and vegetables was my favorite.

• 8. best A1 you saw

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It may seem very basic but the “Daily Sun” had a really nice A1 for their St. Patrick’s day issue that I really enjoyed.

• 9. photo illustration


I really enjoyed this photo illustration from Times of Oman.

• 10. favorite foreign language page/paper

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“Times of Oman” was my favorite that I saw. I know we talked about it in class but I just wasn’t expecting the amazing designs I saw from the paper this past weekend.

• 11. a trend you noticed

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Big ol’heads. For whatever reason big caricature drawings kept showing up in every single section we laid out over in the features section. I’m not a big fan of this trend myself but for it to be popping up so much it must be something worth doing.

• 12. best headline

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OBSESSIVE. The overall layout of this page is just really well done, and even earned an Award of Excellence if memory serves. There are a lot of handwritten marks about the sizes of each letter along with angle measurements. The entire design of the headline really conveys the contents of the article as it relates to OCD.

• 13. the classmate with whom you spent the most time

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The Features Team of course! Katie, Insher, Colleen, and Miriam.

• 14. iconic SND scene

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We all became way too familiar with the stacks upon stacks of solo cups that were at the end of each presentation table.

• 15. you surrounded by discarded papers

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And this is only on the first day when the pile was still considered “small.”

Nick Schmiedicker

One Comment

  1. So glad you found the experience worth the effort. I feel like I can go blue in the face trying to explain how awesome news design can be, but it’s never quite as believable as seeing it for yourself. : ) LOVE the Shakespeare squirrel!

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