The Society for News Design was celebrating 25 years as an organization in 2004. The annual workshop was in San Jose, Calif. And the conference organizers — myself among them — wanted to look back at our craft in a meaningful way.
Enter the idea for 25 Influential Moments in News Design, which resulted in a video and magazine project. The aim was to do an oral history of the Society at 25 by reflecting on the things that influenced a generation of information design professionals.
With the help of Michael Whitley and Bryan Volk, the work of gathering video in multiple cities from the industry’s major voices began and the final edited pieces you’re seeing are largely their vision. Nanette Bisher and Bill Gaspard, who both had been or would be SND presidents, signed on to anchor the project and the effort was immediately buoyed by their knowledge of where SND had been. Jonathon Berlin and I solicited authors, called people everywhere to ask them to spend some time talking, and made a special issue of Design magazine devoted to the project.
The video, underwritten by the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News, was unveiled at the Society’s business meeting during the San Jose workshop and the accompanying magazine was distributed to the assembled audience of more than 750.
The response was immediate.
Many liked it.
Did we whiff on anything? Well, yes.
We should have included the rise of online and how that’s changing what it means to be a news designer.
Anything else? You tell us.
We stand by the rest of the list. Honest.
Matt Mansfield is an associate professor at Northwestern University and the co-director of the Medill School of Journalism’s Washington program. He was president of SND in 2009.