The Poynter Institute: What We Do

The Poynter Institute is a school for journalists, future journalists, and teachers of journalism. Our students come here in a search for excellence. Our teachers provide focused instruction and personal support in that quest.

The Institute prides itself on a style of teaching and learning that helps shape every course and seminar we offer into a Poynter Experience. Here’s what you should know about the Poynter Experience:

  • We keep seminars small, which means you get lots of individual attention.
  • We emphasize a hands-on approach, so you participate in discussions, case studies, role-playing, and other exercises to get you involved in learning.
  • Our resident faculty includes distinguished professionals and scholars, all master teachers who bring special expertise to every session. Each seminar also includes visiting faculty, accomplished professionals who leave their jobs for a week to help teach, who spend time with you inside and outside the classroom.
  • As a financially independent, nonprofit organization, the Institute is beholden to no interest except its own mission: to help journalists do their best work.

MISSION STATEMENT

The Poynter Institute is a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders. It promotes excellence and integrity in the practice of craft and in the practical leadership of successful businesses. It stands for a journalism that informs citizens and enlightens public discourse. It carries forward Nelson Poynter’s belief in the value of independent journalism.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN

We want you to leave Poynter better prepared to produce great journalism, so that your readers, viewers, or listeners can make better-informed decisions and lead more satisfying lives.

We want you to be equipped with new tools and ideas to handle the challenges of producing quality news reports, programs, and publications, and with new ways of thinking about the work that you do. Here’s what we hope you will gain:

  • The courage to take risks and to do your best.
  • A higher sense of self-esteem and the power to shape your own career.
  • New confidence in your craft.
  • A recognition of the value of diversity in the newsroom and in life.
  • The vocabulary to describe what you do and why, and what you stand for.
  • A desire to continue your growth as a journalist and to share what you’ve learned.
  • A new network of people who support you in your work, so your learning continues.
  • A clear picture of the special role of journalism in a democracy.
  • An understanding that your life’s work is valuable and that you can make a difference.

OUR HISTORY

Nelson Poynter founded the Institute as a school to further his goals and values. As publisher of the St. Petersburg Times, he insisted on excellence, editorial integrity, and independent ownership. Over a period of 40 years, he created a newspaper generally ranked among the best. He also founded and served as chairman of Congressional Quarterly.

Poynter died on June 15, 1978, but his dedication to editorial and academic excellence will inspire journalists and educators for generations.

Poynter willed the controlling stock of the Times Publishing Company to the Institute to assure its continued independence after his death, and to commit the publishing company’s dividends to elevate the standards of journalism through training and research.

Poynter’s concerns for academic excellence and editorial independence came together with the creation of the Institute, a nonprofit teaching and research institution charged with serving journalism and the academic world by offering educational programs available nowhere else.

In the years since its founding in 1975, the Institute has developed a rich mixture of teaching and research programs, ranging from sophisticated courses and seminars for professional journalists to basic classes at the elementary school level.

Seminar participants enjoy the variety of learning environments at the Institute: the intense discussion in the seminar rooms, the social interaction in the Great Hall, and the one-to-one conversation in the many small “break-out” areas. They say they leave Poynter with a sense of mission rooted in a sense of place.

In the development of all its programs, the Institute continues to draw on the standards of excellence set by Nelson Poynter. Karen B. Dunlap was named the Institute’s fourth director in August 2003. Dunlap succeeds James M. Naughton, president and managing director from 1996 to 2003; Robert J. Haiman, president and managing director from 1983 to 1996; and Donald K. Baldwin, the founding director and president.

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