Designer of the Year – Newspaper

Scroll down to meet the nominees for Designer of the Year – Newspaper.

An award for designers and graphic artists. Judges will look at finished pages that demonstrate innovative and skilled design and layout.

The shortlist

Debbie Rodman, Bury Free Press

Supporting statement:

What’s on needed an urgent update and redesign in the 165-year-old Bury Free Press – enter Debbie Rodman. 

Debbie had been part of the design hub bringing out magazines and supplements via the Cambridge News and was drafted in to bring her expertise to Iliffe’s stable of products.

She took on the newly-titled Culture and localised content by sourcing foodies, health experts and winning back contacts we had let slip over the years. 

She then brought innovative magazine skills to the newspaper to create a what’s on which continues to punch above its weight and is now carried across the five Suffolk Iliffe titles. 

The Health and Wellbeing page is a monthly yoga/health piece and this design flows nicely down the page, bringing the reader in at top left and leading them down through the poses naturally. It’s fresh, easy on the eye and makes the reader stop and increase dwell-time – a main aim of the redesign. 

Forest Live DPS shows the clever use of a graphic trees theme through the headline and into the text. Never afraid to use white space, Debbie’s eye for magazines comes in clearly here as she removes any clutter and lets the design breathe. 

The dinosaur spread uses a clever claw scratch effect and some nice airy pullquotes to show off a one-night show interview with aplomb.   

Debbie has learned to use a neutral colour palette well – clever use of cutouts, white space and excellent page design flow allows the reader to work his or her way across a page or DPS with ease compared to some of the newsier pages and this design prowess extends through the whole of Culture. 

We sit Culture now at the back of the book and it gives the reader something valuable and worthy to happen across after the wealth of news, views (and property!) has come and gone and leaves them with a great impression of the title and hopefully wanting to read us again the next week. 

Key elements of the Culture section are also now uploaded to the BFP website (and now the app, too) which also helps us to drive traffic back to the brand and increase our digital footprint.

Judges’ Comments:  

Classy, stylish design and layout. 

It’s a skilled sub who can take a conventional design and update it without jarring the readers – this is a good cross section of the skills to draw readers to pages that often don’t get the credit they deserve. Great use of images and clean typography.

Ian Bond, Hull Daily Mail

Supporting statement:

Libby Squire coverage

University of Hull student Libby Squire went missing after a night out in Hull on February 1, 2019. What followed was one of the complexed and challenging stories that I have ever had to work on in my 18 years at the Mail. 

The police spent the following weeks and months searching for any sign of the missing 21-year-old. Her heartbroken family, friends and the people of Hull waited for any news of what happened to her. 

My submission includes just a tiny part of the comprehensive coverage we featured in the Mail. From tragic front pages of when Libby’s body was discovered in the Humber Estuary to the heart-breaking scenes at the 21-year-old’s funeral. I have submitted spreads detailing the complexity of the police investigation, using maps and CCTV, to explain every detail to the readers and stories appealing for information from the public to find any clue to the missing student. 

Get on board

A fantastic story for Hull on the back of a successful year as UK City of Culture detailing a £27m project to promote the city’s rich maritime heritage. Working in partnership with Hull City Council I created a wrap and spreads in the main edition showing the exciting and vibrant projects to redevelop city assets. These pages included stunning artist’s impressions of how the projects will look and how readers can get involved. 

I also worked with the council to design and create a 32-page glossy magazine explaining in more detail every aspect of the project. The magazine was inserted into the paper on the same day and I have included some of the spreads using the clean and creative design.

Melissa Ede

My final submission covers the tragic death of transgender millionaire lottery winner Melissa Ede. The former taxi driver really was one of the city’s most colourful characters and my pages detail her amazing life from wanting to go to Mars to winning £4m on a scratchcard. 

I really wanted to pay tribute to Melissa who always loved being the centre of attention. Her heartbroken fiancée told us she put a copy of this Hull Daily Mail in her coffin when she was buried, she said she would have absolutely loved it.

Judges Comments:  

Good use of design to drive content of major local interest. Particularly impressed with the Maritime special both in concept and execution.

Once again, Ian shows his superb skills as a newspaper designer. The design enhances clarity and interest.

Keith Williams, Derby Telegraph

Supporting statement:

Keith is a seasoned sub of the old school, with almost 30 years of local newspaper experience to draw upon.

Most days, Keith leads on the Derby Telegraph and designs and edits the majority of the news pages, including the front.

He decides the running order of the paper based on what he believes the readers would want to see, rather than relying solely on which stories have received the most online page views.

He digs out quirky angles and gives stories a unique perspective.

From essentially templated pages, he does his utmost to make each one different, making the very best of the available images and coming up with headlines that both grab attention and make people want to read on.

In the three examples submitted, Keith demonstrates clearly his talent for superb design and great headlines.

In the front page “Cast a vote for new PM” Keith seized upon the idea that people in the Derby suburb of Chaddesden (the city’s readership heartland) were being offered the chance to have their say on who would be the new prime minister.

From what might otherwise have been a short, he built the story into a quirky splash using the iconic picture of Number 10 and a snappy split headline.

In the second front page he has taken a lead story with no photo and transformed it by using a giant cut-out of a fly. The picture at the top was a teaser using a filer from Derby County’s win which got them to the Championship play-offs. The tight crop makes it power off the page.

In the third example, Keith has given his treatment to a court lead about a drink-driver who blamed his inebriation on eating pickles.

Having been supplied with only a snatch photo of the defendant, he has run with the pickle theme and dug out a file photo of a jar of gherkins on which he has fitted the headline “I wasn’t pickled… alcohol in the vinegar must have tipped me over drink-drive limit”.

Good enough is not good enough for Keith, who can’t leave a page without knowing he has put his all into it.

Keith truly believes that newspapers still have something special to offer and starts every working day in the hope that he can help to keep the printed product vibrant and relevant to the people of Derby.

Judges’ Comments:  

Really professional. Good thinking outside the box and outside the template. A class performer

Skillful layout and design leads to impactive pages, whatever the challenges of the subject matter

This is a skilled sub – taking sometimes dry topics and stock pics and making them eye catching (despite templates) to draw the reader in.

Kelly Leung, Reach Data Unit

Supporting statement:

Designing to show Data is a challenging task, taking readers on a journey that can be easily followed but also display the complexity of a variety of data. Visual representation of data can be quite limited however as a designer’s job it is to create something that is boring to something aesthetically pleasing but yet simple to understand. 

Firearm Crimes Shooting Up

It’s a frightening time to know that statistics show a rise of firearms involved within the UK. This infographic piece is showing after years of decline, a sudden number of crimes that has been involved with firearms is now and still on the rise. The bullet path for the graphics is the graphs itself in order to create a more visual representation of firearm in action. However, the challenge was to represent the firearms by using illustrated shapes.

Theft in the classroom

Children have experienced theft in or around school, and I have used an illustrated school area to visually represent the proportion of thefts that occurred in each location. The graph underneath along with the illustration is to predict what thieves are most likely to target after from past data. The use of colours helps readers to distinguish the levels of crime in different areas. 

Hitting the high notes

The use of symbols is an important element when designing or creating for infographic work. I believe the sample reflects my passion for bringing data to life. The selection of the colours is to demonstrate the greatest vocal range of the top five singers on the keyboard. The sense of hearing is represented on the page for readers to hear what they see.

My submission reflects my passion and creativity for bringing data to life. Making it easy to understand, simplicity and illustrative elements to add extra visual depth for readers to understand. The usage of different typefaces and fonts are important in all work, it sets the tone of the page. Sophisticated data is hard to comprehend and can be quite tedious therefore I use my skills to merge all that in one to make life much easier.

Judges’ Comments:  

Data and design harnessed to good effect. Excellent use of graphics which really help the reader and approached in a refreshing way.

Good interpretation of factual material which tells the reader all they need to know. Graphics need a combination of clarity and creativity as seen here – the musical notes elevated a wire story to something to linger over.

Marianna Longo, Reach Data Unit

Supporting statement:

I, as the lead designer for the Reach Data Unit’s print output, work every day in synergy with the data journalists of my team, to convey daily agenda-setting stories and explore major issues in an innovative way. Our pages add value to the regional papers, while also attracting new, younger, visually focused readers.

My aim is to take numbers and statistics and turn them into something that is not just visually pleasing, but which tells a story at a glance in a way words cannot. I believe every visualisation should be understandable to a wide audience, and should catch every single person’s attention – regardless of age, class or culture. Because the most powerful designs are those that include people and do not make them feel excluded by complexity or abstraction.

I combine my illustration and communication design skills together in order to achieve visuals that are usable and full of meaning.

My critical understanding united to my ability to synthesize information allows me to find a visual element – a graphic sign or an illustration – that captures the essence of the article bringing it straight to the reader through a thought-provoking visualisation.

I design the page using dedicated software, chiefly Adobe Illustrator as it allows geometries and proportions to be accurately represented. Accuracy and attention to detail are highly important in this job. Alignment, colours and fonts need to be carefully measured and thought out to create a harmonious appearance.

The data for the visual is usually sourced by one of the dedicated journalists on the team – usually either from FoI, web scraping, APIs, or open Government datasets. 

My entries are just a selection of the hundreds of daily print pages I’ve worked on during the recent years at Reach plc. These are data-lead stories published every day across more than a dozen regional titles, including flagship papers such as the Manchester Evening News, Liverpool Echo, Bristol Post and the Chronicle.

My first entry, “From Russia With Warships”, shows the increasing tensions between the UK and Russia. I decided to show the story represented as the game Battleships, with each square representing a year to show the increased number of Russian warships that have approached the UK waters, and pegs representing the UK’s response to each approach.

The page is successful as the story is immediately obvious to the reader, based only on a glance. 

“How The Sun Shone On 2018” explores the yearly hours of sunshine in the UK, since 1929. The year 2018 was officially the second-sunniest on record (the year 2003 was the sunniest year). Each ray of sun shows the hours of sunshine recorded each year since 1929.


In my last entry, “Attacks behind bars”, the bars, go from being a simple graphic tool to show numbers to become the main visual itself, which tells the whole story at a glance. The page explains in a dramatic but simple way how violence in prison has hit record levels and how many of the attacks were serious.

Judges Comments:  

Excellent graphical style and presentation.

Really clever use of graphics with a particular twist. Very impressive.

Simon Hill, Express & Star

Supporting statement:

There nothing more Black Country than a bostin season for Wolves and a spot of Peaky Blinders.

Simon Hill is the go-to designer at the Express & Star, whose skills have been used to create the weekly Weekend supplement in the Express 7 Star. He was also the exclusive designer of the Back Where We Belong book, sold alongside the Express & Star as a souvenir of a memorable season at Molineux.

Style, panache and humour are the characteristics of Simon’s work. He has worked hard to simplify the design of the Express & Star and that is also evident in the entries submitted for this award.

Judges’ Comments:  

A breadth of skills made this entry stand out – and a lot of pages. The Wolves pages look incredible, especially on use of design to display data .

Brilliant, evocative layout and design skills on show here. 

Tom Evans, Liverpool Echo

Supporting statement:

Digital can do wonderful things – but people remember a good front page for far longer than they do a good homepage. When something momentous is happening – such as the end of the Hillsborough trial, or the Champions League final – everyone wants to see what the front page of the Echo looks like. So, I’m honoured that I’m trusted to design it.

But the bread and butter days are far more frequent and far harder than the days when you don’t need to think about what your splash will be – that’s why I’ve included the knife crime one. It’s just an ordinary Saturday Echo with a pretty ordinary splash, but I think I’ve dressed it up nicely, and it balances well with the various blurbs and boosts. It stood out on the newsstands, anyway.

We knew the verdict was on its way from the Hillsborough trials, but the trickiest question was how to handle a ‘not guilty’, when our role as the Echo has been, for the past 30 years, to stand up for the families. In the end I chose to say three of the things the court HAD found Duckenfield to be – through the evidence, and through his own words – and illustrate it with a sparse, poignant pic of that terrible day. 

Note: Tom adds that the LFC fan Dave Roland – the man pictured with his head in his hands on the stands on the front page above – recently passed away from coronavirus.

We’d produced three special pullouts in the lead-up to the Champions League final, and this was the third of them. We were running out of ways to say the same thing. So I remembered a trick I’d used before, to make players look like comic book characters, and used it to design a supplement cover that went down really well with LFC fans around the world, going by their reaction on social media.

Judges’ Comments:  

Powerful projection and an excellent understanding of the aims of his craft.

Striking, innovative pages, showing entrant’s flair over a variety of topics.