By Gayle Grin
SND President and Managing Editor, National Post
SND Chinese, the Chinese-language chapter and newest SND affiliate, after forming mere months ago, wasted no time demonstrating their ambition and commitment to their region and their craft by hosting the first-ever SND event in China.
The SND Chinese workshop held in Shanghai June 27-30 was a heart-warming success. There were over 40 attendees from Chinese-speaking papers, a notably significant attendance in the wake of major earthquakes which had newsrooms across China scrambling to cover events and also contributing financially to the relief. Additionally, many of the attendees had never been to Shanghai before — so meeting in this busy, bustling city was a new chapter for all of us on numerous levels.
SND and SND Chinese chose this time to forge stronger connections with emerging Chinese visual journalists as the world focuses on the Beijing Olympics, making this workshop unique. Alan Jin, executive director of SND Chinese and Lily Lu, the regional director asked for SND’s help to bring journalists to China who had visual experience covering the Olympics who could help prep the attendees for what they might expect in the coming months.
Chris Courtney from Red Eye of the Chicago Tribune, Greg Manifold from the Washington Post, and myself as SND President from The National Post, Canada, went to this workshop to share ideas and best practices. It was so exciting to have open paths of communication and interaction between visual journalists on this international level.
I am so excited by this new affiliation. SND was there with the purpose of inspiring with examples of past Olympic newspaper coverage … and we, the SND speakers, left China being inspired by the very good work everyone shared with us. Given the recent news events, we saw many Chinese newspaper earthquake pages. They were very well-designed, tight deadline efforts that really reflected the Chinese culture. This was such an exciting example of international cross-pollination.
The Shanghai seminar was quite different from other SND Quick Courses and annual conferences. The translation was not simultaneous, which allowed one to pause between points and to interact with the translator. This was positive in so far as eventually the audience got comfortable enough to join in on the interaction as well.
Chris, Greg and I made many new friends in China. We went there with the purpose of helping them but we left in awe of their enthusiasm as emerging visual journalists. I was so inspired by the experience that my presidential farewell message at the end of the session was very emotional. I made a huge pitch for the SND Vegas conference coming this fall because I knew the Las Vegas workshop would be so helpful for our new friends, but also because Chris, Greg and I want to see these enthusiastic journalists again soon.
As hosts, SND Chinese was very gracious. We found this to be typical of the Chinese people as well. We were guests in their country and they were quite hospitable. They showed us many sides of Shanghai and some aspect of Chinese life.
Before the workshop began, they brought us to an ancient old town called ZHU JIA JIAO (朱家角). It was the town of the family of ZHU. We took a quiet, rainy ride on a small boat on one of the water avenues through the town.
After the first session the SND Chinese board took us to DONG BEI REN (东北人), (DONG BEI means North-East, REN means person). It was a restaurant with food from the northeastern region of China. Afterwards we drove through the People’s Square which is the center of Shanghai, and went walking down a pedestrian street, Nan Jing Road — the most well-known road of Shanghai.
The final social event was held at a restaurant XIN TIAN DI in the old French district, an area which is unaffordable to most Chinese at this time. The purpose of the event was to relax and mingle. There was also an opportunity at this time for the Chinese papers to share their work and portfolios. I was quite impressed with the work I was asked to review.
The sponsor of this event was CFP(视觉中国). CFP Group is committed to the development of the China news, pictures and other creative industries and to promote China’s image with the international market picture of the interactive development of the market.
We welcomed our SND colleagues, and look forward to more long-term collaboration. SND Chineses are already very dedicated volunteers, and committed to growing newspaper design in Chinese language papers. Alan Jin, and Lily Lu were an inspiration with all the arrangements they coordinated for this session and it’s such a perfect time to grow design in Chinese-speaking newspapers. The Olympics will challenge any group to become more visual in their presentation and this coverage and experience will be a great preparation for the upcoming coverage of Expo Shanghai in 2010.
This was another example of SND’s growth on an international level.
Please join me in welcoming SND Chinese!
~ Gayle Grin is the president of the Society for News Design and a managing editor at The National Post. She wrote this following her trip to Shanghai.