SND Chinese meetup draws packed house

[Contributed by Amy Wu (Wu Hsiao Mei)]

SHANGHAI, China – In the age of Google the U.S. newspaper industry may be riddled with layoffs and cutbacks, but here in China newspaper professionals hope to avoid the industry’s overall woes by sharpening their skills in these fast changing times.

On Saturday, Sept. 18, more than 100 Chinese newspaper graphics designers, editors, photojournalists, academics, and industry professionals, attended the Society for News Design Chinese meetup held at the University of Hong Kong’s Shanghai Teaching Center in Shanghai. The meetup covered topics from trends in newspaper design to examining the impact of Web 2.0 on the industry and promoted networking and discussion amongst professionals.

Attendees came from Shanghai and nearby cities including Wuxi and Hefei. The meetup was organized by SND Chinese, affiliated with the Society for News Design, and was supported by the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Center and by two Shanghai-based newspapers, the Chinese Business News and Oriental Morning Post.

“We want to prepare news designers and management for the continued rise of new media, and we also held this event to get them to think on a deeper level,” says Lily Lu, co-founder and executive director of SND Chinese and a veteran newspaper designer based in New Jersey. Many of China’s newspaper designers are young people in their 20s and 30s, and Lu hopes to keep the industry moving forward by introducing new media and the importance of networking to this next generation of visual journalists.

“What has occurred at American newspapers serves as a lesson to us. This danger hasn’t arrived to China yet, but we see this as a turning point for visual journalists due to new media,” says Wang Guoqing, vice president of SND Chinese and Design Director at Oriental Morning Post.
To be sure, “we must change with the times and learn because the world is changing so quickly especially with new technologies. We are faced with this reality,” says Ying Chan, director and professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Center.

Speakers also included Stacy Sweat, who worked at The Chicago Tribune before launching her own graphics design business in 2006. Sweat talked about how her newspaper experience helps her business thrive. Sweat recently came to China to work on project for the University of Chicago’s China center in Beijing.

Another speaker was Chang He, vice editor in chief of graphics at the Oriental Morning Post, talked about the power of Web 2.0, especially social networking. At the Oriental Morning Post reporters incorporate the Chinese versions of Twitter and Facebook in their daily work.

Attendees were inspired by the lectures. “I wanted to come and learn more about the trends in the industry, especially since newspapers are becoming more and more visual these days,” says Chen Yu Hua a graphics designer at Jiefang Daily News in Shanghai.

“Although I hadn’t yet considered starting my own business, her (Stacy Sweat’s) lecture really got me thinking about many things in my career,” says Li Feng, a graphics designer at Wuxi Daily News.

The event included an exhibition of selected SND’s 31st News Design Competition winners. Lu co-founded SND Chinese in 2008, and since then the organization has grown to nearly 100 members. Lu spent 16 years working at the Newark Star-Ledger in New Jersey. She is a native of Shanghai and came to the U.S. in 1986.

Lu plans to continue her mission by dividing her time between the U.S. and China. “I am a very lucky person in that I am able to do something that I love and can make a contribution too,” Lu says. “I’m devoted to keeping this profession alive and healthy especially for the next generation of visual journalists.”

SND is currently holding a membership drive. For more information about SND Chinese go to www.snd.org or www.sndchinese.cn

Amy Wu is a NYC based Globe Communication Specialist.