Sunday, March 17, 2013

The dust has settled. I've got an hour or so to kill before my train, then hell flight back to HK.

What a week it's been, culminating in what I think is the best awards results our paper has ever had.

I'm very pleased for Simon and Adolfo for their great results and well earned awards. Simon winning gold is something I expected at SND, so his gold win here vindicates that inexplicably not happening earlier. We've celebrated well, very pleased with things. Yet still I'm going to have a bitch.

Something I've learned this week is that a lot of people were disappointed by the SND results this year. Apparently the judges argument for being so tight was that the standard was so high this year they decided to raise the bar. 


Ok, on a level i understand that. Something that wins an award 20 years ago is surely out of the running this year. Not because it's not worthy, but because of basic evolution. Something that's cutting edge and stand out 20 years ago is built on over the years and new standards are set. The bar is raised. But raise it such a notch in one go? I don't agree.

The thing is, you're messing with people's reputations. To suddenly raise the bar to such an extent that people's work, if entered last year, would've yielded a result but come away this year with nothing is simply not right. 

It makes the work of this year appear weaker than the previous year. As mentioned before, this is all management understands. They're not going to understand that the judges - amongst themselves - decided to raise the bar. They just wonder why we didn't do as well as last year. 

What I think should've happened was if the standards are better then more awards are given out. I know the guys don't expect anything. They might be pleased or disappointed but they certainly don't COUNT on anything. From where I sit though I can get a distance and I know we did more and better work than we did last year yet win - apart from Adolfo's silver - flimsy page design awards. This year we should've cleaned up. My calculation: 20 awards easily.

And the same for Melofeij. I overheard judges saying some graphics were great but did they deserve the space allocated to them. I can't help but think this applies to us.

We've worked hard, spotted a place where we can do stand alone graphics, gone for it, established it and managed to make it our own. To the point where they're in demand and difficult to keep up with. I would've thought this is something to be rewarded rather than something that goes against us.

My predecessor, god bless him, wanted to do this but it's a very difficult thing to establish. It's difficult for editors to understand the value of it. We were lucky, saw an opportunity and went for it and because it was successful were able to continue it. Something a lot of papers are unable to do, including ours previously.

That establishing this somehow (possibly) goes against you I simply don't understand. The weird thing for me is with both SND and Melofeij, when a paper gives big space to graphics it seems to be rewarded. Some papers have different restrictions. We've established our spot. There's no way we're going to get several broadsheet pages dedicated to James Bond. But we have the back page and we've milked it as best we can. 

I see this as something to be rewarded - and therefore encouraged rather than 'did the graphic warrant the space'.

Ironically, a guy in Russia forms a magazine dedicated to graphics, full page graphics - great idea - and is rewarded by being a judge and speaker - even though it's only been around for 7 months. We've established a spot within a difficult system and done it for two years yet this potentially goes against us?

I overheard some of the judges after the awards were announced. Let me say I think overall they did a great job. Was very impressed with the work that got up there. Humbling and inspiring - some of it out of reach because of resources - but very inspiring.

What I want to say is there's a danger of being in a bubble as a judging panel and getting too intellectual. We live in the real world and every situation has it's limitations. Of course it's impossible to know those but I'm not sure that work should be judged from a perfect whorl scenario. At some papers it may exists .. but at most it certainly doesn't.

Anyway, fantastic week in Pamplona. Great results, very happy, great time. These things are difficult and very subjective. Appreciate everyone's efforts and simply amazed by some of the talents out there. 

Thanks to everyone at Melofeij for their huge effort and great to meet so many lovely people.

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