“It’s a very interactive piece on a flat medium, not a newspaper trying to be something else…“
– SND35 Long-form judges*
The editor’s column, March 2014
For years, news media have tried to find out what to do with themselves. As far back as 1996 the programme for the annual SNDS conference (in Sundsvall) focused on the difficulties newspapers had when facing the internet. The struggle for survival is not nearly over yet but the technical possibilities have changed tremendously.
And the struggle is taking place in both digital and print publications. Two trends can be observed in today’s media landscape:
- The attempt to get people to read long stories in digital media.
- The invasion of the internet in the printed newspapers.
The first trend is connected to the iPad and other tablets – but is now also finding its way into the good old internet. Several news publishers are creating areas on their sites which let users read long stories undisturbed by news flashes, irrelevant corny headlines or irritating, animated ads. This is not a bad thing – although some of us still prefer to have the light from the reading lamp shine on the pages, not from them.
The other trend is, however, really annoying. More and more news coverage in print is based on twitter feeds, Facebook updates and similar “who-said-what-and-I-saw-it-on-the-internet” reporting. Whole articles are based on sources grabbed from the web, and newspapers and magazines alike run special pages based on what can be found online, passed on with none or minimal journalistic editing.
One reason for this could be a shortage of staff, of course, making way for an easy solution to fill the pages with free stuff based on copy-paste.
But, honestly, whenever I want to know what happens on the internet, I log on to – the internet. Use the excellent social media apps to find new ideas and get in touch with people, but please, please keep undigested tweets and irrelevant updates out of the print product I pay to have delivered in print.
The worst example I’ve come across recently was a fact box for an article printed in my favourite newspaper, looking like this (yes, in capital letters):
- READ MORE ON GOOGLE
– followed by seven or eight sentences I was supposed to type into Google to find further reading.
“Read more on Google”?? What on Earth has that got to do with facts? Google is a search engine, for Chrissakes, not an automated facts generator. Our sense of ethics are under attack when commercial data algorithms alone, rather than journalists, are supposed to deliver the facts unedited.
I worry about this in respect to not only print but also online communication. We should always keep in mind where our sources come from and present the facts as best we can, in a media suitable for the specific story. That is why the quote above, taken from this year’s judges’ statement for a Gold winner in the SND35 competition, hits the nail. It is possible to tell great stories in extraordinary ways without trying to be something else.
In the magazine
Here at SNDS Magazine, we do our best to find, and tell, stories that have value for you as SNDS members. Some of these members work at Dagens Nyheter in Stockholm and for the second year in a row now, they can say they work at the World’s best designed newspaper. Two other proud Scandinavians are winners in this year’s World Press Photo contest – see page 6–7.
Jørgen Høg, former editor of SNDS Magazine, reports from the jury work in the SND35 competition (p. 16–17).
We also look back on some of the past SNDS conferences and how they have been presented (p. 18–21).
It’s our pleasure to bring you Philip Ritzenberger’s view on the past and the future of SND (p. 28–30). Philip was there when SND was founded in 1979, so he has been with us all the way and knows what he’s talking about.
In February, 13 jury members met with the competition committee in Billund to find the best Scandinavian digital and print designs from 2013. We report from the event (p. 8–13).
We also look at a new Portuguese iPad-only magazine – and an impossible font. Last but not least, we’re introducing a new column on the back page – “In My Honest Opinion”, or IMHO. SNDS President Flemming Hvidtfeldt kicks off this new format, but alternating contributors will get the chance to express their opinions in the future.
We hope you like it. If you think something is missing, or if you have ideas for things we should include in the magazine, please give us a hint.
Editor, SNDS Magazine
* About the New York Times Gold winner in Special News Topics, Local/Regional in SND35, this year’s Best of News Design competition.