Well, the two US-publications really split the entire competition between them and the rest of the world. Or at least it looked that way to the audience, when the awards were announced:
Best of show: National Geographic (print) New York Times (online)
Best map: National Geographic
No wonder that the audience wanted to discuss it a bit afterwards. As Alberto Cairo asked the judges very politely – ‘You gave almost 40 out 110 awards to just two news-organizations. What do you recommend for the smaller organizations in the world, if they want to be at the same level or if they want to win the same number of awards in the future. What should they pay attention to?’
Kat Downs from the Washington Post tried to answer that tricky question. She recommended smaller online-organisations to go for simplicity like the gold-awarded dinosaur-graphic from Brazil. She acknowledged that it would probably be impossible to do 3D-motioncapture graphics right now, but had hopes for the future that expensive and complicated tools would be more accesible for everyone.
Matt Perry added that he would advise smaller printed papers to develop a keener eye for the details. What really set the selected winners apart is their ability to select what to put in and what to leave out – and they were in general more clean and more finely tuned than the rest.
Can judges judge their fellow judges?
When the next question centered about the timeliness in having the judges selected from the same organisations that send in a lot of entries to the competition, the judges fell a bit into defence. Ryan Sparrow said he felt the judges were pretty proud and happy about what was awarded and what was left behind, and Paolo Ciuccarelli added that he had some concerns at first about judging his fellow judges’ submissions, but he had been surprised by the process and felt they had done a good job. And of course the judges weren’t allowed to judge their own submissions.
It’s still an interesting question – do the judges’ publications and countries in general win more awards? A quick look through recent years could support the theory, although I think everyone agrees that the judges aren’t favouring themselves intentionally.
(more to come – it’s award-dinner time)