In praise of judging

As coronavirus wreaks havoc with this year’s creative award shows, D&AD CEO Patrick Burgoyne reflects on why judging matters, if done well

Normally at this time of year, awards bodies are bringing together judges from all over the world to sit down and decide on this year’s Pencils, Lions, arrows, cubes and assorted other amusingly-shaped trophies. There is no normal this year.

Instead, organisers are scrambling to adapt to our new reality. Almost all awards judging will now be done online. Not only do we have to figure out how to schedule these sessions with judges spread across all the world’s time zones, but we also have to protect the integrity of the process. How do we ensure that all judges have the chance to contribute to the discussion, to make sure that everyone feels listened to, that the debate that is so essential is just as robust and passionate and heartfelt as people expect?

The wider awards industry has taken a few knocks of late, particularly the big movie schemes. Once again, the lack of diversity in the results has been laid squarely at the academies’ doors. Although the organisers would claim they are doing all they can to shift things in a positive direction, the pesky voters refuse to return the results many would like to see.

How do we ensure that all judges have the chance to contribute to the discussion, that the debate is just as robust and passionate and heartfelt as people expect?

But there is an important difference between the likes of the Motion Picture Academy of America and most creative awards: they (except for a few categories) vote, we judge. And it is in the judging process itself that there is huge – if not always recognised – value.

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes