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no talking

Enough with the manifestos about the future of news, let your product do the talking

Nikki Usher had a great Columbia Journalism Review article “Startup site manifestos are press criticism” where she notes that startup news orgs like PandoDaily, Vox, FiveThirtyEight and more have gotten into the habit of writing manifestos (much like the New York Times did when it launched in 1851). These manifestos are essentially their critique of the press in action.

The implication is that traditional journalism simply doesn’t offer readers this kind of news in the existing environment—that it’s not doing enough to give us what we need to know, and these sites are going to offer an alternative way to give us the public information that is the perceived obligation of journalism.

I think Nikki is right in her observation. These manifestos feel like the result of an organization sitting down on a psychologist’s couch, talking about its metaphorical parents and writing how it intends to deal with feelings of abandonment. “I WILL BE BETTER THAN THEM” the news organization shouts. Catharsis!

I found out about the post because of a tweet from my colleague Anthony DeRosa.

My response:

I’ve worked on several projects and endeavors over the years. Some of them are now shut down, some of them like Circa are currently kicking butt. But all of them were manifestos. They were all applied critiques of the news process. Emphasis on “applied.” and Broowaha were critiques on the closed process of data collection/reporting
Spot.Us was a critique on the flow of money in journalism and sought to make it more transparent and participatory.
NewsTrust was a critique of accountability
Circa is a critique of the “article” as the most common/base unit of information (among other critiques).
Manifesto writing is important and helpful, and each of these projects spilled plenty of digital ink describing their goals, but it was the product that spoke loudest. It was the product-in-action that defined what these projects said to the larger industry.

Vox’s stacks are more poignant than the video where Ezra Klein talks about how the web can change things. Pando’s use of comics scream louder than Sarah Lacy’s about page. FiveThirtyEight’s drop-down menu tab says more about its values than any interview about it could. First Look’s future products will say more than any blog post explaining those products.

At the heart of the New York Times innovation report I don’t think the conclusion was the NYT needs to write a new manifesto. Instead, NYT recognized it needs to re-think product(s). That’s how you critique the press today. That’s how one shows what you offer that no other news organizations can.

Writing a long article is how you critique a specific act of journalism (think Ombudsmen) and is incredibly valuable. Just look at the wonderful work of Margaret Sullivan for some of the best examples of recent memory. But a long manifesto won’t re-imagine what we do. Creating a news product is how you critique the press today at an institutional level. That’s how you make a statement on what you think the future will feel like.

lets-do-this-250There is so much talk about entrepreneurial journalism, it’s important to see the forest for the trees. Why is this a golden age of exploration in media? Why is it important to discuss the “future of journalism”? If you want to work on a new project or product ask yourself why. Is it because you can? Because you want to make money? Or because you have something to say and the best way to articulate it is by showing how things can work. Read more


Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

Complications and ethics issues in data mining workshop Thursday

Big Data has become a catchphrase in journalism — searchable databases, and data visualizations add context and credibility to news, but it can also add complications.

Exploring the complications and ethics issues in data mining is the focus of the 10th annual Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday.

The Workshop – “Data Minefields?” — brings together Poynter faculty, data journalists, media professionals and “digital do-ers” for a daylong program considering topics such as privacy, data and democracy, and using data to shape news decisions. Poynter’s Vice President of Academic Programs, Kelly McBride, and Ellyn Angelotti Kamke, of Poynter’s social media and law faculty, will facilitate the debates.

Keynote speaker Robert Hernandez, web journalist and self-described “hack-academic” from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, will review emerging technology, including Google Glass, and talk about ethics questions related to telling stories on new platforms. Hernandez says he’ll talk about “MacGyver-ing”* new tools to tell stories grounded in journalism fundamentals.

Another special session will feature Joe Vealencis, director of the Office of Strategic Communication for the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington, D.C., discussing “Transparency in an Age of Terrorism.”

One panel – titled “Private Matters: Using and Fusing Data” – will explore concepts such as striking a balance between telling a story and individual privacy and ethical concerns about collecting and using data in journalism.

Strategic communications practitioners will appreciate a panel discussion highlighting the ways data is used in advertising, marketing and public relations including demographic research, product development and crisis response. Professionals will discuss problems and best practices in data mining such as using data to “sell” candidates and campaigns or including data to support new products. Jennifer LaFleur, senior editor for data journalism at the Center for Investigative Reporting and a former trainer for Investigative Reporters and Editors, will suggest how journalists should question data from strategic communicators.

As part of the 10th anniversary of the Media Ethics Workshop, Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication will honor Poynter’s Bob Steele with a new Excellence in Media Ethics Award. Steele, who worked with thousands of journalists during nearly 20 years at Poynter, recently retired from DePauw University. He will address attendees via Skype.

The Poynter Kent State Media Ethics Workshop is a training and development opportunity for media professionals, educators and students. The national program is available via internet live stream at All viewers and participants are encouraged to comment, engage with speakers and raise questions by Tweeting at #ksuethics14.

*MacGyvering is a reference to a 1985-92 television series about an agent who made practical, new things out of relatively ordinary things. Read more


Friday, Aug. 01, 2014


NPR One app potential is huge

Public radio and podcasts have taken on an increasing role in my life. I listen while running, cleaning, cooking, driving long distances or taking public transportation, mostly times when I can afford to multitask, but can’t be looking at video or don’t want the added work of reading text.

I downloaded the NPR One app this week and listened to it twice during long morning jogs, and while I was riding public transportation and hanging out in airports. I’ll stop short of calling it a game-changer. But it’s clear that this app, or one like it, has the potential to become a content platform for news and culture audio, the way Amazon is for shopping or Netflix is for movies.

NPR One is like Pandora for public radio content. Because I already have an NPR account, even though I was in New York, it immediately knew that my local station was really WUSF in Tampa Bay.

NPR One began with a Guy Raz welcome and a request for access to my microphone (I’m not sure why). It then gave me the latest three-to-four-minute top-of-the-hour news update. Then it bounced through radio news, first from the last 24 hours of daily NPR shows Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Soon I started getting a mix of more evergreen content, blended in with the day’s news. I got a heavy dose of WNYC content, presumably because that’s where I was, but also because there is no content from my local market currently available.

The app draws from a big pool of NPR-owned products including podcasts, Joel Sucherman, NPR senior director of digital products said. The algorithm blends machine learning and editorial curation to ensure users don’t end up in a filter bubble, he said.

When you like something, you can tag it interesting. When you don’t like something, you click the forward triangle, and it skips to the next story in the queue. Soon, the app was delivering Planet Money reports, Scott Simon interviews with interesting musicians and stories about books and authors. I clicked past a Terry Gross interview once, because it was really long, and I never heard from her again, even though I wouldn’t mind the occasional film director interview. Some of the most pleasurable stories came from something called Vintage NPR, a collection of ‘driveway moments’ that manage to stand up over time.

NPR staff currently tags all NPR content as it goes into their management system, Sucherman said. A second level of NPR One editors then determine what “buckets” that content should go in. Those buckets determine how long the content will be available on NPR One and how and when the app will match it to customers.

NPR One was publicly available Monday for Android and IOS. They won’t say how many people downloaded it, but it was in the top three free apps in Apple’s App Store all week. Jeremy Pennycook, NPR One product manager, described the debut as more of a preview than a launch. Developers perfected the software enough so that users could open it up and press play. Many additions and improvements are in the works, he said. Eventually it will learn what time of day or days of the week users prefer shorter, newsy content to longer feature content.

The developers specified that all the audio listeners hear on the app will have “that NPR sound.” But they didn’t say how that will happen. Content like This American Life, that is heard on NPR stations but not owned by the NPR network, isn’t currently available on NPR One. There will be interesting negotiations about the pricing and licensing, considering that This American Life has recently gone out on its own. NPR One’s success is contingent on it being the go-to mobile platform, at least for public radio stories and shows, but maybe for an even broader array of audio content. How or even if independent content that seems as natural fit, as well as the good stuff from Public Radio International and American Public Media, isn’t clear.

“It’s a big ecosystem and the edges are very fuzzy,” Pennycook conceded.

(Disclosure: I have weekly media segment on WUSF and also a side podcast; neither are available on NPR One.)

NPR worked closely with six big local stations in the initial development and then later brought in a broader working group of large, midsize and smaller stations Sucherman said. While the app was smart enough to know what my local station was, it couldn’t recognize that I was already a donor. Thus the occasional instructions to press the “donate” button seemed annoying in a way that doesn’t bother me when I hear the same plea on the radio. When I did press that button, I got an email with “give now” button that sent me to my local station’s pledge page.

In order to capitalize on the opportunity, staff at local stations will have to load their “segmented audio” into the NPR One content system. That should be an incentive to the notoriously thinly staffed mid-size and small stations to create such content and produce it in a way that in conforms with the technical requirements of the app. Local stations will be rewarded with data about public radio listeners who may not be donors, including who their listeners are, where they go, when they listen and what they are most interested in. That kind of data will be a goldmine for local stations.

Sucherman and Pennycook pointed out that NPR was conscientious to connect users to their local station, which by design are crucial to NPR’s revenue model. With money from their pledge drives, local stations pay their own bills as well as pay the fees to license NPR shows.

“We had the best interests of the network and local stations in mind,” Pennycook said. “We are disrupting ourselves so someone else does not come in and eat our lunch.”

For me, the user experience was slightly addicting. Unlike the Public Radio app, NPR One can run in the background, so you can text and surf while you listen. It downloaded enough ahead of time that even in New York City, on the notoriously spotty AT&T connection, it didn’t drop as I ran through the streets. On an airplane I was able to listen to four or five stories after my phone lost its connection.

The most notable glitch was repetition, which Guy Raz promised in his introduction wouldn’t happen. The app delivers two quick sponsor messages in a row, which often repeated one right after the other as I continued to listen. I heard a few of the same stories the second time I used the app as well. Also, it drained my battery quickly.

Whether NPR One becomes a true platform, as opposed to just an app, will depend on the mix of content, transparency and sophistication of the algorithm. The reason Amazon works is because consumers can get to the variety of what they want, in a environment where Amazon controls for quality. That ‘NPR sound’ that both Sucherman and Pennycook mentioned can be a bit like Starbucks: It’s consistent and reliable, but sometimes you want a local vibe that is completely different.

Of course, there’s a natural evolution for all platforms.

Facebook had three distinct phases for me. First there was novelty. Then, as more and more people that I cared about joined, I felt a true connection to the platform because it enhanced my life by giving me information I wasn’t getting anywhere else. Lately, as it has become harder to find the content that actually enhances my life, that connection to Facebook has waned such that it’s more an indulgence than a necessity.

Maybe that’s natural evolution for all platforms. At first cable TV was so cool, then it was so pointless, but eventually it brought me unique content from MTV’s “Real World” to “Mad Men.” At first Netflix saved me time, then I couldn’t find anything I wanted to watch, and now I have “Orange Is the New Black” and “House of Cards.”

It’s obvious that there is an audience for this type of news and culture audio and I think a need for a platform, outside of terrestrial radio, to deliver it. If NPR One doesn’t grow into that platform, something else will. Before Facebook there was MySpace.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Guy Raz’s last name and Terry Gross’ first name. Read more


Friday, July 25, 2014


What writers can un-learn from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

The release of a hot trailer for the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey has stirred up renewed attention to the book trilogy that spawned it, the work of a very lucky British woman named E.L. James.  I very much like the arc of her personal story: from self-publishing the first book to sales of more than 90 million copies worldwide, with translations into more than 50 languages.  So perhaps I should make this a very short essay with this advice to writers everywhere: Sex sells.

But just as there is good food writing and bad food writing; good sports writing and bad sports writing; there is also good sex writing and bad sex writing. To illustrate this, I have chosen a scene – almost at random – from one of James’s book to analyze.  As you will see, it turns out to be much less graphic than the bondage scenes for which the work has become famous and notorious, but the style of writing remains consistent:

Christian nods as he turns and leads me through the double doors into the grandiose foyer. I revel in the feel of his large hand and his long, skilled fingers curled around mine. I feel the familiar pull—I am drawn, Icarus to his sun. I have been burned already, and yet here I am again.

Reaching the elevators, he presses the call button. I peek up at him, and he’s wearing his enigmatic half smile. As the doors open, he releases my hand and ushers me in. The doors close and I risk a second peek. He glances down at me, gray eyes alive, and it’s there in the air between us, that electricity. It’s palpable. I can almost taste it, pulsing between us, drawing us together.

“Oh my,” I gasp as I bask briefly in the intensity of this visceral, primal attraction. “I feel it, too,” he says, his eyes clouded and intense.

Desire pools dark and deadly in my groin.  He clasps my hand and grazes my knuckles with his thumb, and all my muscles clench tightly, deliciously, deep inside me.

Holy cow. How can he still do this to me?

“Please don’t bite your lip, Anastasia,” he whispers.

I gaze up at him, releasing my lip. I want him. Here, now, in the elevator. How could I not?

“You know what it does to me,” he murmurs.

Oh, I still affect him. My inner goddess stirs from her five-day sulk.

Oy.  What I usually call X-ray reading, which I reserve for great works of journalism or literature must briefly descend to SEX-ray reading (and let’s see if I can get through it without revealing anything too weird about myself).

There is nothing original or interesting or even mildly erotic about this passage. We’ve seen or heard it all before:  Icarus flying too close to the sun.  (When I saw it, I blurted out:  Oh, not Icarus, again.  Can’t we find another less abused mythological figure?)  The encounter in the elevator is a staple from everything from porn movies to TV commercials. What follows are those suspiciously large hands and long fingers.  There are those coy glances, and electricity in the air between them.  Can you imagine that?  Electricity in the air between them – in an elevator?  There must be pulsing – don’t forget the pulsing. Add some gasping and basking, and let’s not forget a dash of visceral and primal.  There is clenching, grazing, and clenching.  No mommy porn can be complete without the appearance of the word “deep.”  The closest thing to original language is “Desire pools dark and deadly in my groin.”  But all that alliteration cannot muffle the screams in my head that protest against the collision of “pools” and “groin.” Is this passion, I wonder, or a urinary tract infection?

To neutralize the poison of this passage, I offer a counter-example, also written by a woman, Florida’s own Zora Neal Huston.  Their Eyes Were Watching God was published in 1937 to mixed and controversial reviews but is now counted among the important novels of the 20th century.  A blurb on the 75th anniversary edition by Alice Walker reads: “There is no book more important to me than this one.”

There is a photo of a pear tree on the cover, and beneath the title, an image of a bee.  That artwork pays homage to the book’s most famous passage.  The main character Janie Crawford thinks back to when she was 16-years-old.  Her memories of a young lover, Johnny Taylor, turn into an erotic reverie.

It was a spring afternoon in West Florida.  Janie had spent most of the day under a blossoming pear tree in the back-yard.  She had been spending every minute that she could steal from her chores under that tree for the last three days.  That was to say, ever since the first tiny bloom had opened.  It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery.  From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom.  It stirred her tremendously….

She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her.  She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight.  So this was marriage! She had been summoned to behold a revelation.  Then Janie felt a pain remorseless sweet that left her limp and languid….Through pollinated air she saw a glorious being coming up the road.  In her former blindness she had known him as shiftless Johnny Taylor, tall and lean.  That was before the golden dust of pollen had beglamored his rags and her eyes.

You don’t need your X-ray glasses to realize that this passage is a highly stylized description of a sexualized sensibility. I’m all for sex – in life and literature.  I’ve studied the ways in which human sexuality is portrayed in popular culture and in art.  You would think that decades of such contemplation would lead to wisdom, but I admit to being as confused as ever about the power that sex holds over us.  Only religion can compete.  Sex, beyond its biological imperatives, is a cultural force that fascinates us, dominates our thinking, and drives us to acts that help us, hurt us, and complicate our lives.

Descriptions and depictions of sex, I would argue, in media, advertising, literature, and drama are easy enough to create, but difficult to do well.

Let’s consider for a moment the difference between creative work that is erotic vs. pornographic.  My inclination is to identify pornography by what it says, and erotica by what it does not say.  Porn is, by practice if not definition, prone to exaggeration and overstatement; eros works by suggestion, imagery, and understatement.  Both porn and eros have the same desired effect:  to excite the body, to prepare it for sex.  Porn does this primarily through the eyes; eros through the imagination.

What interests me most about Hurston’s passage – beyond its erotic allure – is the way in which the most standard metaphors of language are transformed from something common and euphemistic into something astonishing and exciting.

To use the most old-fashioned language, a woman who lost her virginity was said to be “de-flowered.”  When young teens began to learn about sexuality, it was all about “the birds and the bees.”  The parts of the flower, we might have learned in high school biology, had their male and female equivalents.  We can find traces of all these comparisons in Hurston’s passage, and yet the power and originality of the language unveils the sex act in ways we haven’t seen before.

Sometimes a pear tree, Dr. Freud, is more than a pear tree.

There is a name for Hurston’s technique, and as an anthropologist and author, she would have known it:  Anthropomorphism.  Here’s the definition from the American Heritage Dictionary: “attributing of human motivation, characteristics, or behavior to inanimate objects, animals, or natural phenomenon.”  This process is easy enough to recognize when the subject is a mammal or primate but becomes harder as we move down the chain of being.  When it’s a flower, Hurston gives its bloom a “snowy virginity.”  The breeze has a “breath” and even “pants” like an energetic lover.  There is a “love embrace” and even a “marriage” between the parts of the tree.

Then there is a cluster of words and images that in a different context or via expressions of connotation remind us of sexuality.  A tree blossoms and blooms, and so, in a sense, does a young woman. Janie is “stretched on her back beneath the pear tree” as if it were her lover.  A bee will  “sink into the sanctum of a bloom” bearing pollen, and carrying countless associations with sexual union, fertility, and procreation.  The “thousand sister-calyxes” describe the sepals of a group of flowers, but a “calyx” also describes the cup-like structure of a human organ, such as a pelvis.  It arches, as a lover would arch her back, and the result is a kind of sexual orgasm:  “the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight.”  (In porn, that’s called the “money shot.”)  At the end of that passage, Janie is a spent lover, feeling “limp and languid,” alliterative words beginning with liquid consonants that offer their own kind of lubrication.

What a great move of perspective to look down a road through the glorious haze of “pollinated air,” to see the human object of her desire.  He is transformed now through the lens of her Sex-ray vision. “the golden dust of pollen had beglamored his rags and her eyes.”  There is magic at work here.  The pollen is a form of fairy dust.  To be “beglamored” means to be transformed as if in a spell or trance.

To understand how good this is – how artistic and controlled — all that is needed is to compare it to Fifty Shades of Grey.

The key to writing good sex (good anything) is original language.

Recall how Vladimir Nabokov describes Humbert Humbert’s first sighting of Delores Haze, who would become his beloved Lolita:

With awe and delight…I saw again her lovely indrawn abdomen where my southbound mouth had briefly paused; and those puerile hips on which I had kissed the crenulated imprint left by the band of her shorts….The twenty-five years I had lived since then, tapered to a palpitating point, and vanished.

At one point early in the novel Humbert laments, “Oh, my Lolita, I only have words to play with!”  Rather than a lament, Nabokov could adopt it as a boast for I know no other novelist who is as relentlessly playful with the English language. Enjoy some of the phrases above, from “indrawn abdomen” to “southbound mouth” to “crenulated imprint” to “palpitating point.”  Appreciate the balance, alliteration, assonance, repetition, variation – the wild and witty texture of the prose.

Now hold it up against “Holy cow. How can he still do this to me?” Read more


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Newspaper group CEO: We need to embrace all media including print

A longtime newspaper man who recently turned academic, Mr. David Boardman posted an essay sharing his personal lamentations about the state of the newspaper business and how the NAA chose to present its industry outlook at the 2014 World Newspaper Congress.

Mr. Boardman’s focus on print publications doesn’t adequately show the changes and growth that are taking place. The reality is that the newspaper business is comprised of multiple platforms, reaching many audiences. Read more


Monday, July 14, 2014

Walter Cronkite

Accept praise for something great in your story – even if you didn’t mean it

We writers say we want more praise for our work, but, when it comes, we are often not ready to accept it. We are better at absorbing the blows of negative criticism, perhaps because we suffer from the impostor syndrome, that fear that this is the day that we will be found out, exposed as frauds, banished to law school.

If you are one of those writers who fend off criticism, this essay is for you. As I learned years ago, praise can come at some surprising moments, and for surprising reasons. When it arrives, let it wash over you like a waterfall.

My career in journalism was launched by a short essay I wrote for the New York Times in 1974. It was called “Infectious Cronkitis,” and an editor at the Times by the name of Howard Goldberg told me later that while he liked the essay, he really liked that title.

I was raised in New York, but in 1974 I taught at a small college in Alabama. As I watched local news programs in the South, I was puzzled that all the anchors sounded like they were from the Midwest. I later discovered that most of these news men and women grew up in the South but had been trained or coaxed to abandoned Southern dialects for the “cracked twig” standard. It was as if they all wanted to sound like Cronkite.

This seemed to me like an illness, a form of self-loathing, a prejudice against even educated forms of Southern speech. I remember so clearly writing my essay in a makeshift office in a rented apartment, sitting on a metal chair, banging on a Remington portable typewriter, my baby daughter Alison toddling nearby.

I paused for some inspiration. I needed a name for this conceptual scoop. I was using words like “disease,” “illness,” and “syndrome.” My hands rested on the keyboard, and I looked toward the ceiling, as if in prayer. I needed a name. Suddenly, I thought of a college teacher whose nickname was “The Disease,” not because of the state of his health or his teaching style, but because of his last name: Jurgalitis.

Then came the list of associations: Jurgalitis…Appendicitis…Bronchitis…

I fell back in my chair and hit my head on the floor, a blow cushioned by a pea-green shag carpet.


That word changed everything. The column was reprinted in papers across the nation. I got miffed mail from Dan Rather and Uncle Walter himself. I was invited by Edwin Newman to appear on the Today show to talk about language prejudice. Word got to Gene Patterson, then president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, who hired me to lead a writing improvement effort for newspapers. I became a writing coach at the St. Petersburg Times and then the first faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a school that now influences the work of journalists across the globe. I’ve taught there 35 years and have my name as editor or author on 17 books.

Credit Cronkitis, or the Muse who gave that word to me.

I wrote more op-ed columns for the Times about the emerging culture of the New South. During a visit to New York City I was invited to the Times to meet the editors who had been promoting my work, especially Charlotte Curtis and her deputy Howard Goldberg. They were generous in their praise, and I was flattered and grateful.

Then came that comment from Goldberg about “Infectious Cronkitis.” He liked the content of that column, but he loved the title.  “Cronkitis, a great pun in TWO languages,” is the way I remember it.

Two languages? Goldberg explained to someone else in the room: “You know, the German word for disease is krankheit – pronounced Cronkite. In vaudeville, the crazy doctor was always called Dr. Krankheit — Dr. Disease.”

I knew not a single word of German, and my only brush with vaudeville was through sketches by Abbott and Costello and the Three Stooges. But I sat in that room like the young genius I was not — aglow with misdirected praise.

Who among you – especially you writers — get praised too much? I didn’t think so.

I learned a lesson as a writer that day that I pass on to all of you: Never fend off praise. Just accept it. By all means, take credit for things you did not mean. Why? Because you will be blamed for lots and lots of stuff you also didn’t intend.

So repeat after me, scribes: “Yes. I meant it all along. Cronkitis. A pun in TWO languages. Actually THREE if you add krankhayt from the Yiddish.”

Read the letter Walter Cronkite wrote to Roy Peter Clark after the Infectious Cronkitis article came out. Read more


Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013


Longtime Poynter faculty member Paul Pohlman has died

After a brief illness, Poynter senior faculty member and adviser Paul Pohlman, 70, has died.

Pohlman started teaching at The Poynter Institute in 1979 and 10 years later joined the Institute full-time as head of what was then called the Management Center. In the 24 years since, he led leadership programs and coordinated international training. He also consulted and advised as associate dean, interim dean, a valued colleague and in many other capacities.

Friends celebrated Paul’s 70th birthday last June by wearing masks like the one he’s holding in this photo.

Pohlman was part of the Poynter team that helped establish The Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg, South Africa. For many years he taught in South Africa as part of the program.

“We think we’ve made a difference [there] — gradual, but certainly progress,” he told the Cornell Report in 1997.

In 1991, Poynter Library Director David Shedden interviewed Pohlman about his life and career:

Before coming to Poynter, Pohlman was director of management development programs and newspaper management education at the University of Chicago, where he also earned a master’s degree in history. His undergraduate degree comes from Cornell College in Iowa.

He is survived by his brother, sister-in-law, four nieces and his extended Poynter family.

Related: Journalists remember Paul Pohlman, ‘a quiet leader who helped countless journalists’ Read more


Monday, Aug. 27, 2012


Services set to honor former Poynter President, Inquirer editor Jim Naughton

Two separate services in October will honor former Philadelphia Inquirer editor and Poynter President James Naughton, who died earlier this month of complications from cancer. The first service will be held at the Mummers Museum in Philadelphia on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 1 p.m. The second service will be held at The Poynter Institute on Sunday, Oct. 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. Both services are open to the public. Naughton died Aug. 11, two days before what would have been his 74th birthday. Read more


Monday, Sep. 05, 2011

Registration for Leadership Academy

As a leader, you know, things don’t always go according to plan. You came to this page planning to learn more and apply for Poynter’s “Leadership Academy.” We planned to have the information and registration available to you. Unfortunately, our technology defied our plan, and one of our servers needs to be replaced. Once it is, you’ll be able to apply for the program with plenty of time before it’s scheduled to begin. For now, please send us your name and email address and we’ll notify you as soon as we can take your application — by old-fashioned phone if necessary. Read more


Registration for Write Your Heart Out in Washington, D.C.

We want you to “Write Your Heart Out.” Unfortunately, our registration system for that program has worked its heart out and needs a replacement. Once we get it a new one, you’ll be able to register for the program in plenty of time before it’s scheduled to begin in Washington, D.C. on October 1. For now, please send us your name and email address and we’ll notify you as soon as we can take your registration — by old-fashioned phone if necessary. Read more