Most of the founders of SND attended the first Newspaper Design Seminar at the API held on July 16-20, 1978. The faculty consisted of: Gus Hartoonian, Anton (Toni) Majeri, Edmund C. Arnold, Paul Back, Harold Evans, Rolf Rehe, Frank Peters, Ed Breen, Lou Silverstein, Hayward Blake, George Delmerico and Peter Masters.
Participants were N. Christian Anderson III, Rob Austin, Alan Berner, Kenneth Bronson, Robert Chin, Rob Covey, Richard Crocker, Richard Curtis, P.J. Erickson, John Flanagan, John Foley, Sara Giovanitti, John Gorsage, David Gray, Vernon Henry, Jack Holley, Frank Howe, James Irvine, Robin Jareaux, Charles King, Robert Lockwood, Richard Martin, Johnny Maupin, William McGrath, Julie Monroe, Charles Morris, Rose O’Donnell, Paul Paauwe, Neal Pattison, John Raschka, Donald Romaniuk, Don Scarborough, James Shuttleworth, Peg Sloan and Ronald Willnow.
Twenty-two committed individuals traveled to the Buck Hill Inn in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania during two snowy days in January, 1979, to organize a group dedicated to the betterment of newspapers through design. At that meeting, a steering committee was formed to govern the group, tentative dues schedules were established, and the purpose of the group was defined.
Those in attendance were N. Chris Anderson, Jackie Combs, Richard Curtis, Richard D’Agostino, John Davidson, Roger Fidler, John Flanagan, Sara Giovanitti, Dave Gray, Robin Jareaux, Jeff Lindenmuth, Robert Lockwood, William McGrath, John Maupin, Robert Mellis, Edward Miller, Rose O’Donnell, John Raschka, Terry Redknapp, Rolf Rehe, Dale Schneck and William Tudor.
SND was incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania on May 22, 1979 as a 501(c)(6) non-profit trade association.
The directors at the time of incorporation were Richard Curtis (The (Baltimore) News-American), Roger Fidler (Knight-Ridder Newspapers), Sara Giovanitti (The Boston Globe), Dave Gray (The Providence Journal), Robert Lockwood (The Allentown Call) and Rolf Rehe (Herron School of Art).
The Society established its headquarters at The Newspaper Center in Reston, Va., in June, 1982, and hired its first full-time staff member that year. It moved to Providence, R.I., in July of 1996 and to North Kingstown, R.I., in 2002. In December 2009, the headquarters were moved to Orlando, Florida.
In 1997, the current name, the Society for News Design was adopted. A new logo was introduced at the annual workshop in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1998. Lynn Wylie, a student at the Newcastle College of Art & Design (UK) at the time, created the concept which was chosen in an international competition. The final versions appropriate for print, web and other uses were finished by corporate designer Joe Finocchiaro.