Accolades: Comments, tributes to 2019 Lifetime honoree Tim Harrower

Tim Harrower, 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient

Related: “Saluting Tim Harrower,
2019 SND Lifetime Award recipient”

CHICAGO — Tim Harrower was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award — the Society for News Design’s highest honor — Thursday, April 4, 2019, at the opening reception and awards of the organization’s 40th annual workshop in Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center.


Director of the USA TODAY Network Design Studio

“A generation of designers used Tim’s handbook as a roadmap through the quickly evolving world of Quark- and InDesign-based news design,” said Tracy Collins, director of the USA TODAY Network Design Studio. “It was unintimidating, at times hilarious, practical and filled with brilliant tips — all of the things that someone new to the craft needed to relax and find their way, while it tried its hardest to keep them from going astray. It was true to Tim, and Tim has always been true to the messages he delivered to so many.”


Vice President, news performance and partnerships

GateHouse Media’s Center for News & Design

SND past president and 2015 Lifetime Award recipient

“It’s hard for me to really quantify everything Tim taught me over the years. First it was The Handbook, of course. It was so rich and relevant. And it kept evolving and staying up to date with tools and trends. But I couldn’t get enough — I guess you could say I was a Harrower groupie — I traveled to his seminars again and again. I was thirsty to understand his process and style. He taught me even more about *teaching.* On top of that, he gave us all a great example of how to stay focused and humble, and not take the politics and BS too seriously.”


VP/Content, American City Business Journals

“Tim Harrower has had such an impact on my professional career. But the odd thing is that I’ve never met him. His book, “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook,” became a bible for me as soon as I got it, as I’m sure it was for many other designers. I used the book in the news design class that I took as a student in college, and then years later — and a few editions later — I used his book when I taught news design classes. Tim’s impact on the industry through this book is unmeasurable, and we are all better for his contributions to the news design community.”


Professor, Cal State Long Beach, formerly of The Miami Herald

“I was first introduced to Tim Harrower’s books in graduate school. Since I was first introduced to media design, Harrower’s “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook” became my bible. I had it with me through school. It was in my desk as I worked as a page designer. As a tenured journalism professor that teaches media design, it’s listed in every single one of my syllabi. Harrower’s works are as essential to me today as they were many years ago.”


U.S. Government “Dark Arts” (he won’t tell us what, but suffice it to say it doesn’t include Illustrator, or even secret copies of Freehand)

2013 Lifetime Award recipient

“It’s awesome that Tim — the Rodney Dangerfield** of newspaper design — is getting the lifetime achievement award. But seriously this is well-earned. Tim is the reason I pursued a career in newspapering … instead of taking that Wall Street job — thx heaps, Tim!

I mean Tim literally changed my worldview in regard to newspapering; he showed me that you could inject humor into your work. David Carson blew my mind. I did a page on Bruce [Springsteen] that was my homage to David Carson and it was pretty much illegible; yes, it won SND award.”

*i guess he’s more the lenny bruce of newspaper design but seriously like 3 people know who that is (and even fewer in oregon)


Michael Whitley, Tim and Harris Siegel. Which of these is not like the other? Tim listens patiently as Whitley and Harris debate whether soccer or hockey is in fact The Great Game.


Assistant Managing Editor, The Los Angeles Times

“I studied photojournalism, so my design “program” was a copy of the Newspaper Designer’s handbook and a one-day training seminar Tim lead. Simplify. Take smart, calculated risks. Good material sometimes has to die for great material to shine. All these years later and the best of what I do can still be traced to that book, and pasting together pretend newspaper pages in a hotel ballroom with Tim. He changed the trajectory of my career.”


Ball State University

Professional Lecturer of Journalism Graphics

“Telling the story of the first amendment with visual storytelling made me one of his biggest fans. To this day, Tim’s textbooks are the only textbooks that my students will read — no kidding — and they are always impressed when I talk about knowing him or hearing him speak. His textbooks are the ones that students don’t sell back to the bookstore at the end of the semester and instead put on their bookshelves at home.”


President, Bisher Design

Consultant, SND past president

“Tim Harrower.

Such a nice guy.

And smart.

He knows so many good words.

So many valuable words.

It is an honor to have crossed paths with both Susan Mango Curtis and Tim Harrower. Their contributions toward the betterment of journalism has been profound.

Recognizing the work of these stellar humans gives me hope that the earth will keep spinning on its axis. And the moon will stay up there. Being mad and beautiful.

Congratulations Tim.

Congratulations Susan.


Huffman is a visual and content strategist and consultant who works in places such as India, Dubai, and Las Vegas, where he directed the redesign of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2017. His last full-time job was at USA TODAY, where he was a deputy managing editor.

“If you’re lucky, you’ve participated in or least observed one of Tim Harrower’s workshops. Either way you learned something.

If you’re lucky, you’ve read his book about news design.

If you’re lucky, you’ve read his book about reporting and writing news.

If you’re lucky, you’ve never hired Tim Harrower.

I know. I did.

Last century in a galaxy far way at a Pulitzer-winning, afternoon newspaper in Rochester, N.Y., Tim Harrower accepted my offer to be the features editor of the now-defunct but one-time Gannett flagship, the Times-Union.

He was outstanding as an editor of words and of art, making sure the Penney-Missouri prize-winning “upfront” section did not rest on its laurels.

Before there was InDesign there were dummy sheets, pieces of paper that – if you were lucky — were proportionate to the full-size newspaper page. You sketched your layout on the dummy and sent it to the Composing Room, where the union compositor pasted the text and art onto a full-size grid based on the marks you put on the dummy.

I always prided myself in being the master of the dummy sheet. Every line drawn precisely and accurately. In pencil, ballpoint pen, and in black and red felt-tips. No questions from the Composing Room that way.

Dummy sheets weren’t good enough for Tim.

He used a full-size grid As His Dummy Sheet, putting my dummies to shame. The Composing Room loved it. I hated him for it. He made my dummies look amateurish.

Eventually Tim and Robin left upstate New York winters and returned to Oregon. But not before I learned that he is meticulous but not tedious. Thorough but never dull. Fair and accurate but not pompous about journalism. Clever. Funny as heck. And always ready to smile.

In 2016 and 2017 I had the pleasure of coaching hundreds of Hindustan Times staffers in four newsrooms spread across India. In my bag of workshop resources?  Tim Harrower’s “Inside Reporting.” My references to Tim Harrower prompted Indian journalists to purchase the book.

This was 30 years after I’d engaged Tim to edit a features section.

(By the way: Down the hallowed hall in the separate Rochester newsroom, the Democrat and Chronicle, were three other names that are familiar to SND: Randy Stano, Dale Peskin and Dierck Casselman.)

I’m lucky to have worked with Tim – and Randy and Dale and Dierck. Lucky to have Tim’s books.

And the Society for News Design is lucky to have Tim as a face of journalistic design.  


Consultant; former media advisor at Indiana University

“Tim has educated and inspired visual journalists of all ages. His sessions mesmerized us and taught us the many facets of publication design, and his textbooks on design and reporting became roadmaps for journalists at all levels, from novices to veterans. His influence on the industry has been both broad and profound.”


Editor, ColdType

[Excerpted from the SND judging way back when; courtesy Design Journal, Issue 67, page 22]:

“If this is the future of newspapers,” said one exasperated judge, after listening to another raving about some weird, jumbo broadsheet feature pages with monsterized fashion sketches, lots of white space and hardly any text, “then newspapers have no future”.  – Tim Harrower, who demanded anonymity at the time, is outed as the SND 19th Edition judge who stared into the dregs of a glass of beer and foresaw the demise of newspapers way back in 1998. If only we’d listened!”


Senior Manager of Culture and Engagement


“I believe I have owned nearly every edition of “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook.” I used it for five years when I taught design at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. It’s full of relatable examples and Tim’s trademark humor. I swear I can hear him in my head whenever I read it.

I was an avid fan of The Edge in The Oregonian. I wish I could find a collection of those columns.

Perhaps my proudest moment in SND history is winning Tim’s newspaper design trivia contest at the workshop in Washington, D.C., with Stephen Komives and Svenåke Boström — beating Harris Siegel and his team. I remember how Harris kept saying something about how our knowledge of newspapers was savant-like. We blew them away. Good times.”


Senior director for print innovation, Advance Digital

”It sounds cliche to say that Tim Harrower wrote the book on newspaper design but hey, he actually did. But his influence goes far beyond his books. His work legitimized the value of great presentation as a means to connect with readers, the best motivation for what we do. And as a role model, Tim Harrower has been bigger than the books and the work, exuding a generosity of purpose that made us all want to offer more and help others do better. Thanks for all that, Tim.”


UI Developer, Court Technology Services

“Back in 1993, I landed my first “real” designer job, at The Victoria (TX) Advocate. They created a new position — designer/graphics editor — and I was the lucky candidate. Soon after starting, I got my hands on an SND annual, and that’s where I discovered The Oregonian, and Tim Harrower. I just loved the dude’s wit and his inventiveness. I even subscribed to The Oregonian for a while.

When I also realized he wrote “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook,” I was officially a fanboy. I’ve met Tim a few times and he doesn’t disappoint — he’s nice, witty and gracious with his time. This award is long overdue.”


Professor of Practice in Journalism and Media Management, School of Communication, University of Miami

SND past president (1992)

“We have watched Tim expand his journalistic influence from a talented feature editor to a global visual guru. Tim’s books and presentations have inspired generations of journalists from the scholastic to the professional level.”


Matt Mansfield, Partner, MG Strategy & Design

SND past president

SND Chicago site chair

“I needed the spiral-bound edition of “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook” because I used it that much. When I met the hero who made it, I was amazed that Tim Harrower was as direct and funny as he was in the book. I can’t imagine someone else who had such a profound effect on my era of news design. He literally wrote the book.”


SND President

VP, StrategicDesign at agencyQ

“Tim’s work is at the foundation of our craft, in both print and digital. Even 20 years later, I can give my Designer’s Handbook to my UX designers so they can learn the fundamental basics of good design. Regardless of medium, design teams have become better because of Tim’s work and dedication to the field of design.”


SND past president

2012 Lifetime Achievement recipient

“There were so few instructive and inspiring resources for copy editors doing page layouts at the time Tim’s books were first published. Tim helped lead the way for layout artists to grow into page designers and page designers to grow into visual journalists. I have always been honored to have had work included in Harrower handbook history, Congratulations!”

About Steve Dorsey

@Gannett VP innovation. Boards: @INMAorg, @SND. He was the 2011 president of the Society; 2015 Lifetime Award recipient. Dad to Fiona; partner to @paprgrl76. Relocated Detroiter. Tigers fan. Designer. Editor. SU grad.

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