The Society for News Design is excited to announce that Garry D. Howard is joining our lineup of speakers for the SND Charlotte workshop on April 19-21 in Charlotte, N.C.

Before joining ACBJ, Howard was editor-in-chief of the Sporting News, coming to the organization in 2010 from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. When he joined the Journal in 1994, he became one of the first African Americans in charge of a major newspaper’s sports section. Howard was president of the Associated Press Sports Editors, and previously worked at the Trenton Times, the New Brunswick Home News, the Times-Union, the St. Petersburg Independent, the St. Petersburg Times, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

SND.org’s Jon Wile chatted with Howard about the importance of empowering designers in newsrooms and how editors can best work with designers.

YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN ON THE REPORTING AND EDITING SIDE OF THE NEWSROOM, BUT YOU’VE HAD AN IMMENSE RESPECT FOR DESIGNERS. HOW DID THAT START? WHEN DID YOU REALIZE DESIGNERS COULD ADD VALUE TO YOUR SECTION? When I was hired at the St. Petersburg Independent as a sports copy editor, I began learning about page design, and upon the merger with The St. Petersburg Times, I was editing and designing five high school sports regional pages a day. I began dabbling with area composition, trying to get all of the pieces to come together before we cut and paste them onto pages. It was very exciting and saved a great deal of time. In addition, our readership noticed!

After spending over seven years at The Philadelphia Inquirer, I came to realize that the graphics and design department members were my best friends when it came to displays. They thought differently and always said, “What about this?” It became one of my favorite terms.

Finally, when I was Sports Editor at the Milwaukee Journal, I was searching for designers to make us look great. When we stumbled into Sam Manchester, who was hired as a graphic designer at the paper but loved sports, well, we hit the proverbial jackpot. Sam was the best I ever saw. Period. So we stole him for our department. Sam designed all of our special sections, covers, etc. And we never had to offer him ideas; he had thousands. He even did 10 different hairstyles (with no faces) for Brandon Jennings, a Milwaukee Bucks point guard, to identify the NBA player’s eclectic approach to life. Sam, who is now deputy sports editor at The New York Times, was a dream match and made me a firm believer in designers as pure geniuses.

IF AN EDITOR ISN’T COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH A DESIGN TEAM, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE HIM OR HER? Artists and designers can be like thoroughbred horses: they spook easily. They need space to breathe and think; they don’t need you offering mundane ideas that don’t further the concept. As Editor-in-Chief of The Sporting News, there was no way I could design all those color, high-gloss pages. Benson Taylor and the whole team of designers brought copy to life with brilliant pictures and great graphics. They were the rock stars; my name was just on top of the masthead. But because I built an environment that was conducive to their success, they blossomed. And I remembered to stay far out of their way.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG DESIGNER COMING OUT OF SCHOOL THAT WANTS TO WORK IN A NEWSROOM? Be prepared to think outside of the box. A newsroom today is a total collaboration. Everyone has a specific job to do but I want you to know that you are being paid to be creative. So be just that and push, push, push for different ways to catch the readers’ attention, pull them into a complicated story and make pages appealing. … You are there to raise the bar. So do that and lean on others in your design profession for help handing those relationships that affect your work. And lastly, really believe in yourself.

Register now

About SND Charlotte

• Don’t miss your chance to UNITE & REBEL, register today: Register
• Book your hotel room (before they run out!): Use the SND discount link
• Check out the lineup of speakers we’ve announced for the workshop. What a team!
• Don’t miss the Think Before You Make pre-conference day at the U.S. National Whitewater Center