Society for News Design Spring 2011 Board Meeting
March 4, St. Louis, MO
Steve Dorsey, President
Jonathon Berlin, Vice President
Rob Schneider, Secretary/Treasurer
Kris Viesselman, Immediate Past President
Stephen Komives, Executive Director
Lee Steele, Region 1 (via Skype)
Shraddha Swaroop, Region 2
Michael Tribble, Region 4
Tyson Evans, Web site
Gustavo Lo Valvo, Region 12 South America
Anders Tapola, SNDS
Will Sullivan, St. Louis Workshop
Carlos Ayulo, St. Louis Workshop
Jason Chiu, Region 9 Canada
Melissa Angle, Training Director
Josh Crutchmer, 33rd Edition Coordinator
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. CDT
President Steve Dorsey called the meeting to order and the participants made introductions.
Executive Director Stephen Komives reviewed the minutes of the Fall 2010 Board Meeting in Denver. They included a proposal to revamp the Best of Multimedia competition, a restructuring of the Board of Directors and various plans to raise revenue between the meeting and the end of the year. Dorsey made a motion to accept the minutes. Training director Melissa Angle seconded the motion. The motion was approved.
Several new members of the board were formally introduced: Region 9 director Jason Chiu of Toronto, Region 12 director Gustavo Lo Valvo and Secretary/Treasurer Rob Schneider.
President Dorsey delivered a combined Officer’s Report. He discussed concerns about declining membership, which is now hovering near the 1,000-mark. He talked about many new member benefits that have been introduced this year, among them free digital training though the Quick Courses, a joint training venture with the American Press Institute, a plan to mail two magazines this year to members in addition to two issues of INK magazine, a startup venture created by two designers, Nick Mrozowski and Krissi Xenakis.
Dorsey said he had reached out to leaders of other organizations, among them API, ONA, ACES, NPPA, and AAJA, to ensure reciprocal membership rates and/or explore opportunities for partnership. He said anything we can do to augment the value of membership should be explored.
He said he had been in conversations with Gannett Corp. about exploring corporate memberships in the United States as well as training.
On competitions, he praised the efforts to expand and revamp the digital competition, in particular the efforts of Ryan Sparrow of Ball State; said the Print competition had come off better than projected on the entries and revenue side, and that the student help in Syracuse, led by David Miller and Kuan Luo on the blogging desk, had been outstanding; and talked about how December’s Photo Illo Throwdown added to SND’s catalog of competitions and taught us lessons about getting stuff done quickly. He praised the efforts of Yuri Victor and Joey Marburger in creating special host sites for that and the Digital competition.
Dorsey also praised the successful workshop held for students in Syracuse to coincide with the print competition. Jon Glass of Syracuse organized the event, which featured speakers Steve Cavendish, Tim Parks, Andrea Zagata and others.
He gave thanks to Region 1 director Lee Steele for producing coverage from Syracuse of the World Best portion of the competition coverage.
Vice President Jonathon Berlin gave an overview of the Best of Digital competition judging, which was held at Ball State in February. He said the 10 judges in Muncie were great about creating the structure for judging as they went over a very fluid weekend. From about 500 entries 63 winners were determined, with 1 Gold and a handful of JSRs and silver medals.
He said the competitions this year showed off how well SND can develop its traditional base and at the same time expand its reach. He said winners will be announced in the next few weeks and winners of the Best-Designed News Site and Best Designed App with be announced in St. Louis.
He said Ball State had been “incredibly supportive,” and the student involvement phenomenal, and that coordinator Ryan Sparrow “Never once blinked and was always the nicest guy in the room.”
Berlin gave an overview of Publications. He praised Suzette Moyer’s work on last year’s Design magazine and talked about the issue in the works now, which is also expanding SND into new territory. The idea is to take one issue a year and make it an “Idea Yearbook,” looking at ten great subjects that influenced news design in the last year, and then tying it to a symposium like Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. The goal is to create another gathering apart from the annual Workshop to help inspire people.
Dorsey talked about staffing issues, specifically vacancies in Regions 3, 10, 15 and 19.
He said there were people in mind for those vacancies, including someone in India for Region 19 where there is a lot of potential for expansion of SND’s reach. He introduced a motion:
MOTION: To immediately merge regions 9 and 10, Eastern and Western Canada, into a single region.
Region 9 director Jason Chiu asked about the portion of Region 18 pertaining to Quebec, if that should be part of the merger as well. There was debate on this topic and it was agreed to study it and discuss it further at the fall board meeting. Schneider seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Dorsey turned the discussion to future workshops. He said the board should commit to determining sites for 2012, 2013 and 2014 by the end of the year, and should look at new models that may not involve a host sponsor.
Web Publications director Tyson Evans asked about exploring joint workshops. Komives said SND is very open to this but there has been resistance on the part of other organizations to create joint ventures.
Viesselman made a motion to accept the Officer’s Report. Region 4 director Michael Tribble seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Schneider discussed how in 2010 and 2011 the budget was “right-sized” to reflect new realities. He praised the efforts of the leadership to push through 2010 without tapping reserves.
He said SND has $137,000 in cash right now and gave an overview of major expenses facing the Society in coming months, including reimbursements to judges and facilities expenses from Syracuse, the cost of producing the book and magazines, and contracts with vendors involved in the St. Louis Workshop.
He talked about how the $25,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation will be giving a boost to training efforts this year. He noted that 57 people are already registered for the St. Louis Workshop thanks to early promotion and special “early-bird” pricing offers.
He said SND needs to attract about 1,500 members in order for membership revenue to offset office administration expenses and membership expenses. He said in the short term we’re doing well enough in other areas to make up for the shortfall there.
Angle made a motion to accept Schneider’s report. Tribble seconded. The motion carried.
Komives gave a brief financial update, noting that the Print competition and the Digital competition combined to bring in about $25,000 more than anticipated this year, and that the reserve fund showed a year-over-year gain for the first time since 2007.
Komives said his major focus in the last six months has been in 1. Getting the new Best of Digital Design competition off the ground; and 2. Crafting the Quick Course schedule and recruiting trainers and site chairs for the spring events. Six Digital classes are slated to take place between March and May, he said, and suggested the regional directors take the lead in scheduling a couple more in areas such as Canada and the U.S. west coast.
He also gave a status update on the Denver workshop and subsequent negotiations with the hotel in the wake of less-than-budgeted attendance numbers, and said the St. Louis contract had been renegotiated to reflect the numbers drawn in Denver (about 300 paid attendees).
Komives also talked about the need to get 2011 budgets approved. He said budgets had been sent to program chairs in January but there had been scant replies. Dorsey said he would help see through the process ASAP.
Komives said long-range he would like to see the Web site developed as a teaching tool, with the 30-year archive built out in easy-to-use form. It’s a major undertaking that would necessitate funding. Schneider said he would be willing to help identify potential sponsors and volunteers for this effort, as a way to add more premium benefits to membership.
Komives also talked about the lessons learned from the Photo Illo Throwdown and suggested a similar competition be held this year. Foundation President Denise Reagan said the key to the success of a venture like this is every board member using social media outreach effectively to drum up interest beyond the membership.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the report. Schneider seconded the motion.
The motion carried.
Foundation President Denise Reagan said she and Education chair Jennifer George-Palilonis are putting a 100 percent digital application process into effect for the SND scholarship and travel grants, in an attempt to streamline the process.
She also said Laura Black at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the local contact in charge of the Workshop Silent Auction. She is already collecting items and Reagan put out a plea to the board to assist in the effort.
She said they’re looking for anything and everything, from 6-packs of local micro-brews to software and hardware. She discussed the poor track record SND has had with firms such as Apple and Adobe concerning such donations and wondered if we could engage news organizations more in this effort instead of going to the software firms.
She said she is seeking a replacement for Diversity chair Javier Torres, International Education chair Michael Stoll, whose terms ended Dec. 31, as well as for trustees Phil Ritzenberg and Richard Curtis.
Colin Smith of the Salt Lake City Tribune has accepted an at-large appointment as a trustee, she said.
The Foundation has its own board and functions separately from SND so no motion was made to accept the report.
Training Director Melissa Angle ran down the list of Quick Courses coming up in the spring. She said she would like to enlist the help of the board members to put together a 5-to-10 minute video, to be shown at the beginning of all SND events.
She also asked for help in planning more meetups and mixers in the regions in the next year. Members are looking for ways to come together she said, and having even just one speaker is enough to create a gathering.
She said she is working on an Events 101 worksheet to explain how to host various types of SND events.
Viesselman said formalizing the ways in which new members should be recruited at these events should be made part of such a worksheet.
Dorsey said more should be done to trumpet keynote speakers, such as Zach Wise, who spoke at Cleveland in November and was “incredible.” The low turnout at this event, even though it was free, was surprising. he said. “It’s stunning, the lack of involvement,” he said.
The pre-St. Louis Workshop offerings, such as a possible NPPA course and a Digital workshop, were discussed.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the report. Schneider seconded the motion.
The motion carried.
With competitions recently wrapped up, this discussion covered several areas.
Dorsey began by talking about The Book. The fifth annual cover competition is under way, he said, and the book itself is in production. Competition coordinator Marshall Matlock was in St. Petersburg overseeing the photography of the winning pages, in fact, and so was not at the board meeting. There were 830 winners, fewer than last year, which should make for more images and better display of winning entries.
33rd Edition Coordinator Josh Crutchmer talked about the post-Print Competition Committee discussions, which have focused on 1. Getting the Call for Entries out earlier; 2. Adjustments to the rules to better facilitate arriving at a Best of Show, which has not been awarded in a decade. Current rules dictate a unanimous vote by judges, which has created a too-tough standard, he said; 3. Consideration of adding a fifth judging team, which would speed the judging process but also add to the cost. Crutchmer said the committee would be discussing these issues and others in late March.
Crutchmer said he had fielded questions about the nominating of judges and becoming a facilitator, which he said were difficult to find on the Web site. Komives created pages on the site to remedy this.
Evans asked if the Competition Committee should be unified, to tackle issues related to both Print and Digital and create more ties between the two.
Schneider said such a setup could avoid duplication of efforts.
Komives said the existing Print Competition Committee, intact, might be needed by Matlock to address issues with that competition, but suggested an umbrella committee, composed of judges and coordinators from both competitions, be appointed to look at issues common to both areas.
Dorsey set a time frame: to make initial calls to the Competition Coordinators by the end of March to discuss the composition of various committees and see where help is needed.
Crutchmer said he has two goals as coordinator: to see entries rise beyond the 11,000 mark (this year’s competition reached 10,515 entries); and to leave the coordinator of SND34 in as “clean, efficient, manageable shape as I can.” He said more work could be done in reaching out to magazines to raise awareness.
The issue of a printed Call for Entries was raised. International Relations director Hans-Peter Janisch had raised the fact that many international members did not receive theirs until the actual deadline had passed, and that most have the awareness to download the pdfs online. Lily Lu of SND Chinese said members in her region do not receive such mailings. Reagan said the Print Competition is the only one she knows that comes with complete categories and forms in the print packet.
Dorsey talked about SPD contest, how poster and postcard mailings are used to raise awareness and send interested entrants to the Web site to download forms. Following this model could allow us to reach a lot more people for the current cost of the Call for Entries.
Dorsey asked Evans to explore a QR-coded front-end system that could streamline the audit and data entry processes as well.
More discussion and exploration would be needed.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the written report, submitted by Matlock.
Tribble seconded the motion. The motion carried.
Berlin reviewed the Print Publications report submitted by Suzette Moyer, which detailed the aforementioned plans to focus the next issue of Design Magazine on creating an “Idea Yearbook.”
Schneider said the budgets prepared would allow for a second magazine this year and asked if the second issue would be out to members before St. Louis. Berlin said a more detailed schedule would be worked out in the next month.
Berlin also discussed the mailing of INK, the first issue of which is to be mailed to members in the next week and would contain a flier trumpeting the API/SND seminar discussed above.
Evans presented the Web Publications report. He began by asking everyone in the room to write one thought piece for the site.
Dorsey asked about the potential of the site to draw advertising. Evans said it is a “chicken-and-egg” issue, that we need to have a site that is strong enough and trafficked enough to draw ads. He said he didn’t think the present site meets that criteria. He said improvements to the job board could be a good first step in that direction.
Viesselman asked if SND needs to issue a call for volunteers to improve the site,
Berlin said the site presents two enormous avenues to pursue: content and site development. He suggested Evans take the lead on site development, including coming up with a detailed plan for improvements and grant pursuing, and that Berlin would spearhead content by enlisting volunteers.
Berlin said he would like to appoint a board member to be the lead-corraler of regional news for the site.
Komives said regional board reports should really be just a composite of items posted to the blogs over a 6-month period.
Evans said the 30-plus-year archive SND possesses is ripe for a grant. He added that a key responsibility for board members is to have bylines on the site.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the Publications reports. Berlin seconded the motion.
The motion carried.
Hans-Peter Janisch’s report raised two topics – launching an initiative to expand SND’s reach into India, and the issue of the Printed Call. Komives mentioned India is one of the world’s top-5 users of newsprint and that the potential for growth there, along the lines of SND Chinese, is certainly possible if the right advocate can be found.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the International report. Schneider seconded the motion.
The motion carried.
SND CHINESE (REGION 21)
In her report Lily Lu talked about the workshop she built in Beijing after SND Denver, and said plans were under way to stage another, likely in the Liaoning Province, this year. She asked if the Digital Training grant was limited to use in the United States. Komives said it was not. She said she would inquire further about setting up the first Digital Quick Course in China.
Lu said China earned 26 awards in the Print Competition this year, including the country’s second Gold medal. She said mailings of books and other printed material to that country should be discontinued because of issues with government censors.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the SND Chinese report. Tribble seconded the motion.
The motion carried.
SNDS director Anders Tapola offered a review of the 2010 SNDS Opera, held in Oslo. He said it drew 300 attendees and that revenue met expectations. In May the next workshop will be held in Stockholm, as SNDS celebrates 25 years in existence. He detailed plans for this heavy-metal celebration.
Tapola said the 2012 event will be held in Denmark after hopes to identify a host sponsor in Sweden did not come to fruition. He said the next board meeting, to be held in Copenhagen next February, would focus on restructuring the SNDS board. He said the organization plans to work with professional conference organizers in the long-term, to avoid having different reinventing the wheel each year.
He said SNDS had 154 members last fall, and is up to 309 now. He cited automatic membership for conference attendees as one reason for the growth.
In the SNDS competition this year, he said there were 800 entries, with 5 Gold medals and a Best of Show.
Komives asked if SND should consider automatically enrolling into SND non-members who register for the Annual Workshop. Dorsey colorfully answered in the affirmative.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the SNDS report. Schneider seconded the motion.
The motion carried.
Workshop Site co-chair Will Sullivan gave an overview of preparations for SND St. Louis. He said 57 people to date have registered, thanks largely to a Black Friday promotion that brought in 50 registrations before the end of 2010.
He said the details of the opening reception at the City Museum were still being worked out. The museum is about eight blocks from the host hotel, a “crazy adult art playground,” Sullivan said.
He said a call was being prepared for student help to handle some basic duties during the Workshop. And a second promotional video is also under construction.
Sullivan talked about Friday night social events, which will include a Pub Crawl on Washington Avenue and a Trivia Night, whose locale still needs to be decided, which would be another SNDF fund-raiser.
On sponsorships, Sullivan said he is pursuing backing from the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, who might be interested in sponsoring specific speakers to the Workshop.
He said he had also made contact with the Digital Publishers Alliance, to potentially sponsor a day (Thursday) of investigation of tablets and other emerging platforms. He said such backing could produce new members for SND.
Additionally, he said he is working on details for NPPA and ACES to participate.
He said a workshop of three tracks is planned: Career-building, Roots (print design) and New Platforms. Sullivan said several potential speakers in each track have been approached and hopes to firm up about 70 percent of the schedule in the coming month.
He listed needs as 1. A producer for the Saturday awards banquet; 2. Speaker prep managers and others needed on the floor both days to ensure sessions come off on time.
He asked the board to share any leads concerning sponsorship contacts and said there was a need to move faster on social networking sites with news and updates regarding the Workshop.
Berlin said he would take the lead in arranging Q&As with the keynote speakers already committed: Dave Gray of XPlane and Rob King of ESPN.
Schneider discussed sponsorships, an effort he is spearheading along with Bob Rose of the Post-Dispatch. He said he hopes to build a tiered system for “smaller levels of access,” starting at the $100 mark.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the Workshop report. Berlin seconded the motion.
The motion carried.
Dorsey shifted the focus to a conversation about future workshop sites.
Region 4 director Michael Tribble made a formal proposal to bring the SND Workshop to Cleveland in 2012. He said he had the backing of The Plain Dealer and its parent company, Advance publications. Tribble said he would serve as site chair.
Tribble read a letter of invitation and intent from Plain Dealer Editor Debra Simmons:
“From the early influences of industrial icon John D. Rockefeller to the birth of Superman in a house on Kimberly Avenue to the work of renowned disc jockey Alan Freed that breathed life to rock ’n’ roll, Cleveland’s rich history of big ideas, imagination and innovation is the perfect backdrop for the annual gathering of visual journalism’s brightest,” Simmons wrote.
Tribble said plans are being explored to host the opening reception at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. He said early working themes are Innovation, Ideas, Inspiration.
Viesselman made a motion to accept the proposal. Evans seconded the motion.
Cleveland was awarded the 2012 SND Annual Workshop and Exhibition.
Dorsey said the next effort would be to cultivate options for 2013 and beyond. The question was posed, what would the model look like without a sponsor organization?
Komives said an East Coast location such as New York would be ideal for 2013, and that he had begun contacting potential site chairs for such an event, as well as exploring hotel and college options.
Other potential cities, listed for their proximity to members and ease of air travel, were put forth: Toronto, Atlanta, Dallas. Los Angeles, San Francisco, as well as Hong Kong and Germany.
As far as models, Evans floated the idea of an annex-style workshop in conjunction with ONA or another organization. He asked if several smaller workshops, targeting specific niche areas of interest, might better serve the membership. “It’s hard to do justice to anyone who wants to go really deep into any specific area,” at a general workshop, he said.
Dorsey said the financial aspects of a joint operation would have to be studied.
Komives said the idea of a Unity-like workshop of all the visual organizations would be a great one to explore, but that other organizations don’t appear overly excited about the idea.
Viesselman talked about the model presented by Malofiej and NH workshops, which feature a narrower focus, a single track and shorter sessions. The shorter sessions in particular seem popular and make speakers tightly focus their messages.
Berlin said a host-free model would likely necessitate a board position dedicated to workshops to handle centralized planning.
Dorsey said SND would cast a wide net with the goal of setting the 2013 and 2014 sites by the end of the year and determining the model for future workshops by then as well. He said the officers would present an update at the fall board meeting.
The potential dates for Cleveland 2012 were discussed. As it is an election year, November was ruled out. The political convention dates of Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 were blacked out, as was the ONA workshop date of Sept. 20-23.
Komives said an early October workshop would appear to be best. He and Tribble said they would be contacting the hotels and move quickly to secure and promote dates for 2012.
BRAINSTORMING: MEMBERSHIP, PROMOTING ST. LOUIS
The membership discussion began with an exploration of different renewal options. Three-year renewals were discussed, as was the idea of an automatic renewal option.
Other options floated included an opt-out of The Book. Dorsey said the office had said in the past this opt-out program would be difficult to administer. Komives said it would not be.
Dorsey also repeated the idea of automatically registering to SND anyone who registers to the Annual Workshop, follwing the SNDS model.
Region 12 director Gustavo Lo Valvo talked about his hopes to organize more corporate memberships in South America.
Reagan pointed out that the Web site makes renewing cumbersome. Region 2 director Shraddha Swaroop said she had heard from members they would like the 3-year option, and perhaps a young-professionals rate. The AAJA renewal form was held up as a model, in terms of ease-of-use.
Sullivan suggested a special incentive campaign – join or renew in a particular month for a special rate. He reiterated the appeal of a three-year membership. Komives suggested discounts for members who refer others into the Society.
Sullivan introduced a motion:
MOTION: To introduce a three-year SND membership option, effective immediately.
Dorsey asked that the motion be tabled for the time being. He said the logistics, and the potential revenue gain/loss needed study. He asked Angle and Komives with Chiu and Swaroop to come up with their top five recommendations concerning pricing and present them to the board via email by April.
He also suggested a contest among board members, to see who could bring in the most renewals by fall.
PROMOTING ST. LOUIS
Angle said it’s not too early to start applying constant pressure to the board and holding board members accountable for promoting St. Louis, as Berlin had done for Denver last year. Viesselman suggested a shared calendar of promotion and said the Q&As with speakers last year were great.
Dorsey said international members really need to be sold on St. Louis, as it represents a long flight for many and its attractiveness to tourists is not as well known as, say, New York. Crutchmer said destination is a big deal with Workshops.
Dorsey said there was a need to get a promotions point person appointed, preferably in the next week. And that the board and officers should make personal appeals to all papers and organizations large and small.
Komives suggested making May Personal Call Month on behalf of the workshop.
Region 2 director Shraddha Swaroop discussed the SNDLA meetup held Nov. 17, which drew 70 people, including 55 from the Los Angeles Times. She said an event in Phoenix is planned which will include a Spring Training baseball game. A meetup in May in Minneapolis is still in the planning stages. Swaroop said recruiting and appointing state leaders is an effective way to build membership. Swaroop said she has state leaders in 13 states in her region. She asked about potential live-streaming and archiving of Quick Courses, as a way to help members who say travel costs keep them from attending seminars. Schneider lauded Swaroop for her outreach efforts using Facebook. Dorsey reiterated the need for more regional blogging efforts at snd.org.
Region 1 director Lee Steele, via Skype, talked about a planned meetup in Washington, DC, in the summer, and asked about possible topics worth exploring. He said he also is working with the Society of Professional Journalists to give SND a presence at their many regional workshops.
Region 4 director Michael Tribble talked about the November Quick Course in Cleveland, as well as speaking engagements he had made at the College Media Advisors conference in Louisville last fall. He said he is working on naming state leaders, and that Dennis Varney would be the state leader in Kentucky. He also threw out, by the way, that Cleveland now has plans to host the 2012 Annual Workshop.
Region 12 director Gustavo Lo Valvo talked about how 2009 saw big growth in his region, thanks to the Annual Workshop, and the corporate membership program. In 2010, Lo Valvo said, SND lost 150 members in Region 12 due to lack of activity. He said there is a need to take action, to be more present. Lo Valvo also said his efforts right now focus on building a network to create activity in every country, which can be more organic and efficient. He talked about three planned events in his region for 2011, including an information design seminar in Venezuela in June, an August workshop in Santiago, Chile, and a November workshop in Lima, Peru, to which Region 14 director Javier Errea has been invited.
Dorsey made a motion to accept the board reports presented – as well as those filed from members not in attendance — from the regional directors. Schneider seconded the motion. The motion carried.
At 4:29 p.m. Dorsey made a motion to adjourn the meeting.
Tribble seconded the motion.
The motion carried and the meeting was adjourned.