Tim Franklin, Poynter's president, announced to the staff this morning that he is leaving the institute to become senior associate dean at the Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing at Northwestern University.
"It has been one of the great privileges of my life to lead The Poynter Institute and the remarkably talented and hard-working faculty and staff here who every day change lives and have an impact on the journalism industry," Franklin said in a statement. "Together, we’ve strengthened the institute and broadened its reach and impact. I’ve been grateful every day to call folks here colleagues."
He will be replaced in the interim by Andy Corty, the president and publisher of Florida Trend magazine. Poynter's board of trustees will soon begin a search for his successor.
Franklin, who joined Poynter in 2014, has led a financial turnaround at the institute and adapted Poynter’s business to the changing industry during his tenure as president. After several consecutive years of reporting seven-figure losses, Poynter reported last year a surplus of $900,000 for 2015 (it still posted a $1.3 million operating loss for that year). Poynter’s finances have improved since then — the institute has had three consecutive quarters of operating surpluses and is budgeted to break even in 2017.
Under Franklin’s leadership, Poynter has remade its business model. In addition to selling its training to individual journalists on a retail basis, Poynter has been wholesaling its training to news companies. It has almost finished with an overhaul of News University, the institute’s online learning platform, and is completing a second redesign of its media news website, Poynter.org.
"It’s been a privilege to be your president and to be able to lead this great, great institution," Franklin said at Poynter's Monday morning staff meeting.
Franklin said his decision to leave was spurred by Medill’s reputation for excellence in education and a desire to return to the Chicago area, where his wife, Alison Franklin, works at a law firm. Franklin rose through the ranks of the Chicago Tribune before leaving to become the top editor at The Indianapolis Star, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun.
Paul Tash, the chairman and CEO of Times Publishing Company, praised Tim's record at Poynter in a statement.
"While I regret Tim’s departure, I take great satisfaction in the strides that Poynter has taken while he’s been president these last three years," said Tash, who was at the morning meeting. "Poynter’s work has never been more important, and its standing has never been higher. The opportunity to be its next president will attract terrific candidates from all corners."
Franklin will oversee Medill’s campuses in Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. He also will lead Medill’s efforts to forge partnerships with major media companies and nonprofits and work on major strategic initiatives with foundations. He will report to Dean Brad Hamm.
Last year the institute taught more than 100,000 journalists, journalism educators and journalism educators from 92 countries and all 50 states. Poynter now has training partnerships with a number of large media and technology companies, including the USA Today Network, Google, Facebook, The Associated Press, National Geographic and Univision, among others.
During his tenure, Franklin helped lead the creation of the International Fact-Checking Network, an alliance now consisting of about 100 news fact-checkers globally. Poynter also secured funding this year from the Knight Foundation to launch the Poynter Local News Innovation Project and a related channel on Poynter.org.
Franklin became president of Poynter in February 2014, after serving as a managing editor in the Bloomberg News Washington bureau.