SND33 Best in Show: Svenska Dagbladet’s breaking news coverage of Norway attacks

For the first time since 2002, the judges of SND’s annual creative competition selected a Best in Show: Svenksa Dagbladet‘s breaking news coverage of the July 2011 Norway attacks.

The 16 pages from the Stockholm, Sweden, paper combine stunning photography, engrossing information graphics, sharp typography, brilliant pacing and page architecture in a piece of journalism that answers every question a reader might have about the attack in which 77 people were killed in Oslo and a nearby island.

“This is what we hope for people to do,” said Steve Cavendish (The City Paper in Nashville), one of the judges. “As journalists you’d be hard-pressed to find anything done better on deadline.”

Twenty-one judges from seven countries, voted 16 to three, with two judges abstaining. A three-quarters majority is required for an entry to be named Best in Show.

UPDATE: See video coverage of the judges’ discussion about this entry and the award.

Svenska Dagbladet’s winning pages earned a Gold medal earlier in the weekend, and was selected for the competition’s top honor from a group of five other Gold-medal winners. The other Golds were for: a 24-page tiled Ramadan poster, and a business page on privacy from the Times of Oman; a cover and spread from Bloomberg Business Week on Steve Jobs; a business page from The Washington Post on tablet shopping; and a portfolio of illustrations by Pablo Bernasconi of La Nacion in Buenos Aires.

The entire judging team reviewed the six Gold-medal winners and narrowed them down to two finalists after passionate discussion, with judges championing the entries they supported for the top award. A simple majority hand-vote carried nominated entries forward. A penultimate vote narrowly moved the attack coverage into final consideration for Best in Show.

Judges then voted anonymously on a paper ballot to determine whether the Svenksa Dagbladet pages should be deemed the best entry in this year’s competition.

The vote passed.

“It is a testament to the quality of the winner and the ability of judges to discuss, engage and debate six very deserving Gold winners and name this one Best in Show,” said coordinator Josh Crutchmer, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I certainly agree with their choice. It shows what journalists should be doing when news breaks and how design plays a central role.”

The last time the honor was given was to The New York Times information graphics coverage of 9/11. Changes to competition rules this year shifted the Best in Show process from requiring a unanimous vote of the entire judging team to the process that unfolded in the main ballroom of the Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse, N.Y., where the competition is held.

Staffan Lowstedt, a picture editor for the Stockholm paper, had to abstain from the discussion and vote related to his paper’s work. When the final votes were tallied and the Best in Show was announced, the entire group hugged and cheered.

It was an emotional moment.

Lowstedt climbed on top of one of the judging tables, raised his arms and said simply, “Thank you.”

Svenska Dagbladet also won one other award in addition to its gold medal in a year when less than seven percent of entries were awarded.

Here’s who worked on the pages:

  • Anna W. Thurfjell, head of design
  • Tor Johnson, picture editor
  • Jessika Olofsson, picture editor
  • Helena Frank, page designer
  • Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters, photographer

Check out coverage of all the Gold medals:

First Gold medal: Washington Post goes tablet shopping
Second Gold medal: Times of Oman’s Ramadan tiled poster
Third Gold medal: Times of Oman business page
Fourth Gold medal: Svenska Dagbladet’s breaking news coverage of Norway attacks
Fifth Gold medal: Illustration portfolio by Pablo Bernasconi of La Nacion
Sixth Gold medal: A cover and spread about Steve Jobs from Bloomberg Business Week