We’ve combined designs.

Most design entries have done something good, but none have excelled at everything.

And it’s probably our fault. Reporting and writing are difficult enough while sheltering at home hundreds or even thousands of miles from campus. Trying to meet our tough design requirements might be impossible.

The problem is that award-winning design isn’t just pretty or newsy. It’s both. The Society for News Design, which judges these entries, chooses each winner based on “how well it accomplishes its editorial and design objectives.”

That’s separate from purely visual excellence, which we’ve recognized before.

So we’re combining three weeks worth of entries and splitting each winner between two media outlets – because if we could merge their efforts, they’d be downright stunning. If that doesn’t make sense, we explain below.

The Red & Black staff

April 23, 2020 Special Issue

Kunal Mehta and Marci Suela, Spartan Daily

Vol. 154, April 23, 2020

Several college newspapers have published special COVID-19 print editions, which were available on Issuu. Page for page, perhaps none is cleaner and better than The Red & Black’s April 23 edition for its University of Georgia audience.

Coincidentally, that’s the same day the Spartan Daily did the same for its readers at San Jose State University. But here’s the challenge: If you’re going to essentially print a traditional newspaper online, you need to squeeze the only advantage newsprint still has. Namely, the sheer size of the canvas.

The Red & Black’s special edition starts strong with an illustrated cover that artistically captures social distancing, and each page is constructed at a pro level. But most of those inside pages resemble each other, and the photos, illustrations, and graphics would be just as easily consumed in more contemporary online formats.

What The Red & Black needed was some of what the Spartan Daily has done.

Check out the full-page infographic written by Kunal Mehta and designed by Marci Suela. Work like that will keep newsprint relevant, simply because it’s (not yet) easily transported to a phone or even a laptop. If print survives, it’ll need more of both The Red & Black and Spartan Daily.

Ben Korn and Lizzy Rueppel, The Michigan Daily

While in quarantine, here’s what University of Michigan Professors recommend

Kristen Grau, University Press Online

How many college students and faculty in Florida have had COVID-19?

University of Michigan writer Ben Korn said exactly what journalism judges love to hear, especially after they’ve reviewed dozens of nearly identical entries for the past three weeks: “We approached this project differently then we would a typical news story.”

Crediting “amazing graphic designer” Lizzy Rueppel, Korn explained…

We were inspired to make “Spotify profile” cards for each professor, reminiscent of how students actually use their music. Then we rolled the project out over social media, highlighting a few professors “profile cards” each day and directing readers to see the full list on our website.

It was hands-down the best social-media design we’ve seen in weeks. But what if that pro-level design was matched with powerful news reporting instead of book recommendations from professors? At Florida Atlantic University, Kristen Grau used Instagram – and only Instagram – to show how inconsistent (and frankly sketchy) Florida’s public universities have been about reporting COVID-19 cases.

“I hope Florida students and faculty view the case numbers and their student population with skepticism and push for more transparency,” Grau told judges. “It’s important to release these numbers and keep digging for this information.”

If Michigan and FAU ever joined forces, they’d own collegiate journalism on Instagram. That might sound like so-what praise, but journalism needs to go where the people are, and there are more than 120 million Instagram users in this country.

Your last chance to enter The CCC Awards is this Friday at 11:59:59 p.m. in whatever time zone you’re sheltering in.


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