A newspaper design competition held by the Society for News Design (SND) has named two of Toronto’s own publications as the world’s best. And the winners are unexpected.

In a city where the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail are two of the biggest and most established newspapers, it’s the smaller underdogs that are making a comeback.

Toronto’s winners are The Grid and the National Post, two papers that have journalistic reputation problems—the Post due to their bankruptcy and Conrad Black, and The Grid because they’re not a traditional breaking news publication with a heavy emphasis on politics.

There were five winner in total, the other three being from Mexico, Denmark, and Germany. The judges themselves were from Beijing, Indianapolis, Missouri, Denmark, and Massachusetts.

The question that arises is does excellent design equal reputable journalism? Both are subjective  tothe reader, but the SND judges seemed to think so: “The more time you spend with this guerilla guide, the more ‘good shit’ shows up,” said the judge’s statement about The Grid. “The engaged writing, smart editing and heavy research is done is a young, sophisticated voice and executed while obviously having great fun.” With a circulation of 25,000 to 74,999 (non-daily) The Grid is hardly the city’s most read paper/magazine, but its certainly working very hard to become so.

The National Post took a big hit after its bankruptcy and since has been struggling to bring its reputation. With a circulation of 75,000 to 174,999 daily, the Post still isn’t as well read as the Star orThe Globe with numbers of 381,310, based on 2010, and between 310, 000 to 378,000 in 2012, respectively. The judge’s comments on the Post were that “This newspaper—always elegant , always powerful—stands out as a World’s Best this year for its excellence in, and devotion to, true visual storytelling. From its dramatic use of illustration, even on its front page, to its combination of photos, graphics and text on stories like the tsunami is Japan, the Post utilizes every visual tool in its arsenal to perfection.”

Whether the National Post and The Grid are your go-to newspapers or not, it’s good to know that Canada has not one, but two, of the world’s best.