J. Ford Huffman exits USA Today

J. Ford Huffman, deputy managing editor of design at USA TODAY, one of the paper's original architects and a 25-year veteran, has accepted a buyout -- one of as many as 43 rumored to be pending (management sought 45 according to recent media reports). "While I'm excited about the opportunities, leaving something I helped create 25 years ago is sad," he said.

"I know this paper by heart. But I'm eager for the next chapter in life and glad Gannett is giving me the chance. I'm happy I have the chance to explore new creative opportunities," Huffman said.

Huffman's current responsibilities include recommending the design and art direction of USA TODAY's Page One. But he's played many roles during his career -- both at USAT and before:

  • He designed the front page of the top-selling Sept. 12, 2001, issue (3.6 million copies) that Society for News Design magazine called "an unprecedented national statement." Earlier he directed the presentation of the entire paper's millennium edition (Dec. 31, 1999) that sold 3.3 million copies.

  • In 2007, Huffman was on the team that developed the initial concept for USA TODAY's active-lifestyle monthly magazine, due in 2008. Also, he has helped facilitate the merger of the print and online visual departments.

  • Huffman is one of nine "expert" contributors (including Nigel Holmes) in Jennifer George-Palilonis' textbook, A Practical Guide to Graphics Reporting (Elsevier, 2006). He's led discussions at workshops from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to San Jose, Costa Rica, for the Society for News Design, and in Warsaw, Poland, and Budapest, Hungary, for the Freedom Forum. He's taught at the Defense Information School at Ft. Meade, Md., the American Press and Poynter journalism institutes and at universities from Miami to South Dakota. He regularly teaches in USA TODAY's continuing-education program.

  • He's been invited to Gannett newsrooms more than 50 times to lead discussions about writing and presentation and to advise on design, including Gannett's military Times newspapers. The Army, Navy, and Air Force Times were redesigned and the Marine Corps Times introduced in 1999.

  • His reviews appear on the books pages of USA TODAY and the military Times.

  • In early 1981, he was in the group that developed the first prototypes of USA TODAY. At the paper's start in 1982, he was a content editor in Life. In 1984, he was on the full-time corporate New Media Task Force exploring Gannett's online possibilities.

  • Before that he worked at the Wheeling, W. Va., News-Register, the afternoon Rochester Times-Union, the morning Democrat and Chronicle in 1986, and Gannett News Service. He is a 10-year member of ASNE's program committee and a past national director of NLGJA.

Outside the newsroom, he has designed sets for Oglebay Institute's Towngate Theater in Wheeling, W.Va. The Left Hand of Justice debuts in January 2008. He's a former two-term president of the 200-member D.C. Front Runners and has finished 22 marathons. The U.S. Marine Corps selected his illustration as the branding image for the Corps' 2004 marathon.

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Anonymous Nanette said...

J. Ford Huffman is my hero.

Friday, December 07, 2007 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger gabi campanario said...

best of luck J Ford! I'm glad I got to work with you for a while at USAT, you taught me a lot!

Friday, December 07, 2007 6:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Randy Lovely said...

J Ford .... It's been my pleasure to know you as a professional and a friend. USA Today and Gannett are diminished by your departure, but the creative world will definitely benefit. Have fun, and run with it.... Randy

Friday, December 07, 2007 8:00:00 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

J. Ford is credited with visiting 50 Gannett newsrooms to provide guidance....that's gotta be low because I've invited him into all that I've been in and that's a lot.

Memorable J. Ford-isms:

"The only reason I can think of to run a yellow tint box is if you are doing a story about yellow tint boxes."

"That type is so wide only a hammer head shark could read it."

And, finally:

"That's why they call it work."

All the best J. Ford and please keep in touch.

Tom Callinan
Editor and VP
Cincinnati Enquirer

Friday, December 07, 2007 8:02:00 PM  
Blogger Susie Forrester said...

You will not remember me, but I remember you and the wisdom you shared. Enjoy your days...and be assured that the lessons you taught me, and many others, are still at work, somewhere, everyday.
Susie Forrester

Friday, December 07, 2007 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Dean DiMarzo said...

J. Ford, you've been a great teacher.
Thanks for the wisdom you've shared and the encouragement that you've given. Best of luck.

Monday, December 10, 2007 2:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Keith Moyer said...

J. Ford:
The industry is losing one of its most creative minds with your parting.

Congratulations! As someone who decided on a similar path earlier this year, I can say you're in for a treat. You're a truly gifted journalist and, more importantly, you're a kind, exemplary human being who I've been proud to call a friend for the past 25 years. I'll be in touch!

Keith Moyer

Monday, December 10, 2007 3:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

. Ford,

You were one of my first teachers, and along with John Monahan, helped me begin my journalism graphics and design career at the Gannett Graphics Network. I'm still at it (for better or worse...)! I'm sure you will be up to all kinds of creative fun with a little more time on your hands. I hope I get to hear or see some of it. Take care!

Lisa (Young) McQuaid

Monday, December 10, 2007 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Connell said...

May the road rise to meet you, J. Ford.

Monday, December 24, 2007 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Marliss said...

I really enjoyed seeing you again and listening intently to your speech at the banquet last night. Thanks for a great evening.
Marliss Healy Barczak

Sunday, July 06, 2008 4:50:00 PM  

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