Society for News Design to expand digital journalism training programs, support news innovation with $130,000 from Knight Foundation

Press Release

October 13, 2015


ORLANDO, FLA. – Oct. 13, 2105 –To help journalists update and build new skills in the digital age, the Society for News Design will expand its training opportunities, bringing multidisciplinary teams together to create new models, news experiences and storytelling tools, while sharing lessons to advance the field. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is supporting the expansion with $130,000.

Related Link

"Inventing the digital storytelling future" by Kyle Ellis and Stephen Kornives, 10/13/2015

The Society for News Design creates, promotes and teaches the best visual journalism skills and user-centered design techniques, helping journalists learn how to design new tools and products that address audience needs. The organization currently serves 840 members at all levels in digital and print journalism: students, entry-level professionals, mid-level managers, high-ranking editors and publishers. 

With Knight funding, Society for News Design will expand its rapid prototyping program, SNDMakes, which launched in 2014. SNDMakes is a two-and-a-half-day design-a-thon that pairs professionals across disciplines — designers, developers, educators, journalists, product managers and students — to tackle a specific challenge that impacts digital journalism and information consumption. Previous SNDMakes programs have covered the building of open-source solutions to address questions, including “How do we foster new story forms?” “How can we build better content management workflows?” “How can we improve photo stories?”

In addition, Society for News Design will create a new program, SNDExp, aimed at improving the quality of design and storytelling at nonprofit and small media organizations and academic institutions. SNDExp will convene designers, developers and technologists to teach best practices and explore existing tools, applying user-centered design. Both SNDMakes and SNDExp will help to create a community of people committed to building products that meet news consumers on whatever platform they choose to consume content.

“One of the hardest things to do, in a professional workplace, is admit, 'I don't know how to',” said Stephen Komives, Society for News Design executive director. “These programs will create a safe zone, a non-competitive place where journalists from many disciplines and backgrounds can come together to, on an industry-level, invent better storytelling, and, on an individual level, to overcome fear of the unknown."

“As technology rapidly evolves, so do the tools and storytelling techniques that journalists use to do their work. The ability to design services and programs that address audience needs is becoming a requirement not only for news designers but for non-designers,” said Shazna Nessa Knight Foundation director for journalism. “To this end, Society for News Design will help increase opportunities for journalists through peer-to-peer learning and help build a network that fosters innovation in the field.”

In the coming year, Society for News Design plans to train more than 250 journalists and students, representing a diverse range of expertise, roles and other demographics, through these programs. Both programs will feature an open application process through the organization’s website,

Funding will also support Society for News Design’s outreach efforts to the digital community. The society will facilitate a continued conversation using e-mail, social media, its website and its annual conference, to sustain momentum in thoughtful, deliberate ways. Past participants will be invited to share resources, announcements, best practices and advice. The society also plans monthly Twitter chats with a specific focus on design, development and media innovation.

Support for the Society for News Design is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to expand digital journalism training opportunities, support emerging leaders and strengthen the network of people working to advance the practice of journalism. 

For more information on the Society for News Design and its programs, visit

About the Society for News Design

The Society for News Design’s mission is to invent, make, promote and teach the world’s best visual journalism. Additionally, it seeks to:

  • Promote the highest ethical standards in all of our crafts
  • Champion visual journalism as an integral discipline
  • Educate journalists on a continuing basis
  • Celebrate excellence in all aspects of journalism
  • Encourage innovation throughout our industry
  • Provide a forum for critical review and discussion of issues
  • Value our unique and diverse international and multicultural character.

For more, visit

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit For more, visit


Stephen Komives, executive director, Society for News Design, 407-420-7748, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, director of communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, [email protected]