The Poynter Institute announced Thursday that its new president will be Tim Franklin, the Washington managing editor for Bloomberg News. Franklin was director of the National Sports Journalism Center at the Indiana University School of Journalism before that and has edited The Baltimore Sun, the Orlando Sentinel and The Indianapolis Star.
“My professional passions are for journalism and education,” Franklin said in a phone interview Thursday. “This is the perfect fit for those two passions.”
In Washington, Franklin, who is 53, oversaw daily coverage of government and policy, including the 2013 government shutdown, and launched Bloomberg Insider, a daily magazine published during the major parties’ 2012 conventions. At Indiana University, he oversaw the creation and development of the Sports Journalism Center and led fundraising efforts as well. He also led the launch of Indiana University’s SportsJournalism.org, which covers sports media.
Tampa Bay Times CEO and Poynter Board of Trustees chairman Paul Tash said by phone that “We had a really keen interest in someone with a capacity for journalism leadership and education and the capacity to establish contacts for fundraising as well.” Franklin, Tash said, “has a great record” in such roles.
Franklin joins Poynter at a time of great change for the institute. He replaces Karen Dunlap, who announced last October that she planned to retire.
The school used to receive a periodic dividend from the Tampa Bay Times, which it owns, but that support contracted in recent years. Poynter lost money in both 2011 and 2012, the last years for which financial information is publicly available. In late 2012, Poynter hired Chris Martin as president of the Poynter Foundation, charged with fundraising and filling the gap left by the Times’ dividend.
“Fundraising is about relationship-building,” Martin said by phone, “and we have had a very strong year building relationships.” Some of those relationships are new ones with large technology companies, she said, as well a number of “old friendships” among people who appreciate Poynter’s commitment to the core values of journalism.
“We are seen as the keepers of that independence and transparency and ethics,” Martin said, “but we’re also seen as a place where people can come and train for the future.” Franklin’s history building audience at Bloomberg and in academia made him a fantastic fit, she said.
Asked about Franklin’s plans for Poynter, Tash said “We share a great sense of the possibilities of opportunities for Poynter as the leading institution of its kind, where the future of journalism will unfold, but I think Tim is also experienced and savvy enough to know that it would be good to be at Poynter for a few weeks and take his own soundings.”
Franklin said that “48 hours ago, I was editing State of the Union coverage in Washington, so I don’t have specific plans yet.” But while acknowledging the “challenging times” facing Poynter and the whole news business, he said, “We’re going to come up with a a strategy.” He added: “We can figure this out.”
He plans to move to Florida soon.
Both Tash and Dunlap said they’d known Franklin since he was at the Orlando Sentinel. Asked what he was walking into, Dunlap said “He’s walking into an organization that has been wrestling and finding some success with the monetary models that so many journalistic organizations are facing, and he’s walking into an organization that’s staffed by just an outstanding group of people.”
Dunlap said she didn’t have any particular advice for Franklin: “I think he’s well-equipped,” she said.
“I don’t plan to move in a rushed way, but we are going to move quickly,” Franklin said.
Here’s Poynter’s press release about Franklin:
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – The Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism, announced today that its next president will be Timothy A. Franklin, a nationally recognized editor and educator.
Franklin is managing editor of Bloomberg News in Washington. Previously, he was the editor of three metropolitan newspapers, and he was the founding director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University.
“Tim brings a wealth of experience in journalism across all platforms, and a strong background in journalism education,” said Paul Tash, the chairman of the Poynter Institute trustees. “For everyone who cares about journalism as a foundation of democracy, this is excellent news.”
Franklin will become Poynter’s fifth president since the institute was founded in 1975. He succeeds Karen Dunlap, who is retiring after a decade as president.
Franklin graduated from Indiana University, where he edited the daily student newspaper and was recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists as the top college journalism student in the country. He was named an Indiana University School of Journalism Distinguished Alum in 2012, an award that recognizes the profession’s leaders.
He started his career at the Chicago Tribune, and then was the top editor at the Indianapolis Star, the Orlando Sentinel and the Baltimore Sun. For the last 2½ years, he has helped to direct daily news coverage from Bloomberg’s bureau in Washington, which has some 200 journalists.
Between the newspapers and Bloomberg, Franklin launched the nation’s leading academic program for sports media students at Indiana University. Under Franklin’s direction, the center established partnerships with the nation’s two largest sports media organizations.
Brad Hamm, dean of I.U.’s journalism school when the program launched, said of Franklin’s leadership: “Every month we were better than the month before. Tim kept improving areas and developing new ideas.”
Hamm, now dean at Northwestern and a Poynter trustee, added, “It’s hard for me to imagine a more ideal person to lead Poynter. He has skills and experience across all areas.”
Franklin is married to Alison Franklin, an attorney who has practiced in Florida. They have twin children, a son who is a junior at Duke University, and a daughter who is a junior at Elon University in North Carolina.
The Poynter Institute is a school and media strategy center dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and leaders since 1978. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, Poynter’s reach extends around the globe: through Poynter’s News University online with more than 195,000 registered users in 225 countries, to in-person courses now offered in India. The Poynter Institute trains journalism practitioners, media leaders, educators and citizens in the areas of online and multimedia, leadership and management, reporting, writing and editing, TV and radio, ethics and diversity, journalism education and visual journalism. Poynter’s website, (http://www.poynter.org) is the dominant provider of journalism news, with a focus on business analysis and the opportunities and implications of technology.
The institute also owns the Times Publishing Company, which publishes the Tampa Bay Times and Florida Trend magazine. Franklin will become a director of the company.