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Internal dispute in Society of News Design, SND, President resigns


At last a topic worth some discussion on the SND-site. But the discussion 'is not available'. Composited screengrabs from SND homepage

Are you a member of Society for News Design? If you are, your President has just resigned.

This is quite extraordinary – Presidents of this society are chosen in a manner, where they start by getting elected to the board and gradually move up the hierarchy year by year. So Matt Mansfield, the now-resigned President, would have had some years to get used to the thought of spending this year as President.

When Matt resigned he did so by posting on the SND-website. He told the community that he loves SND but basically had no other option than resigning ‘But it’s recently become clear to me that I should move on because of an internal dispute on the Society’s board’. He then goes with listing a whole list of good things going on in SND, but every journalist – visual or not – who reads such a statement will skip the activity-list to get to the explanation of the resignation. Unfortunately there is none.

The SND-website allows comments, but that feature has been turned off for this entry – even if such a resignation probably could draw more comments, than the last 50 posts combined.

To make matters even more shady the Executive Director of SND, Elisa Burroughs, last week chose to leave her work after five years as Director to ‘explore new options’. The search committee for a new Director were to be lead by the Vice President, Bonita Burton. And it’s the past president who writes the praise of Elisa Burroughs. I would have expected the President to do both, so I guess the two resignations are somehow connected.

Matt Mansfield makes a point of telling the community that the Vice President will not be the president before she gets elected by the members. This seems strange to me – at least from my European perspective – where I pretty much had the idea, that these presidential elections were always agreed beforehand and only formal.

And to round it off we have another statement from the past Presidents and founders signed by Richard Curtis, which doesn’t clear up the mess, but rather adds to it. He tells us that this group of old-timers in SND during a teleconference tried to dissuade Matt from resigning but are convinced that he did so in the interest of the Society.

Something is clearly happening behind the closed doors of the board. If you’re not a member of SND you might think all this is of no interest to you, but this could be turn out to be a major turning point for the organisation. Perhaps this is a new start and even if you’re not a member of the Society today, you’ll find that it will have something to offer you in the future?

Or perhaps it’s a final contraction? Over at Visualeditors the top-active thread (started before this mess) is the one titled ‘SND -is it worth the dues?’, and most commenters are not re-newing their membership.

Looks like the SND-organization is in a major crisis and is now struggling as much as the papers where all the members work.