By Lee Steele
Circ. 75,000 – 174,999
While this is the first time they have won World’s Best, when the pages of a redesigned Excelsior showed up on the SND judging tables in 2007, the previously little-known daily sparked great excitement in seasoned judges and assistants who thought they’d seen it all. It was the talk of the competition as much for the scope of its astounding visual transformation as for the dynamic individual pages and spreads that were being judged.
In the ensuing five years, the paper has kept up and refined its sophisticated typography, bold color palette and overall visual energy. That energy once again captivated this World’s Best judging team.
This is a paper with a lot going on — lots of stories, sidebars and breakouts along with lots of photographs and graphics. It’s who they are. That they’re able to bring order to this potential chaos without dulling their edge is a testament to the care they take on every page.
At the same time there is a small, but smart personality shift in each of the sections. It’s an acknowledgment of the change in content but done skillfully enough without making the paper as a whole feel disjointed.
The aptly named sports section — Adrenaline — is presented with all the energy of actually being in the stands at a Mexican soccer game. The features section — heavy on entertainment — is as colorful and dramatic as its subject matter. The designers do a terrific job everyday, often with little more than the paper’s solid architecture, exquisite typography and some well-chosen handout photos.
While we saw many papers that did a great job with sports and features, we saw few that maintain that visual momentum in the business and local sections. Excelsior does. Along with its Global section, some of the best covers and inside pages in the paper graced those sections.
Even with its dynamic presentation, Excelsior as a whole ably adjusts the volume as the content demands, from the high amp sports and feature sections to the relative quiet of its elegant, exceptionally beautiful editorial pages. They do this through artful — and sometimes substantial — shifts in the grid, typography, color palette and graphic details.
Excelsior is a paper that directly translates the color, energy and passion of their region onto the pages of their newspaper. It grabs you and doesn’t let you go from the first page until the last.
Bill Gaspard, China Daily, Beijing
Scott Goldman, The Indianapolis Star and IndyStar.com
Rhonda Prast, Missouri School of Journalism
Søren Nyeland, Politiken, Copenhagen, Denmark
Bob Unger, The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass.