July 17, 2018

Hi there, Friends of Poynter,

A distinguished few have received the Poynter Medal of Lifetime Achievement in Journalism. This year, I’m proud to announce that we’re presenting the prestigious award to “NBC Nightly News” and “Dateline NBC” anchor Lester Holt. 

Lester Holt Holt’s outstanding journalism career is one covering communities with depth, grace and integrity. His excellence and work ethic have led him to be anchor of one of America’s most watched and influential newscasts. Whether it’s reporting from global hot spots, moderating presidential debates or conducting news-making presidential interviews, Lester Holt stands tall as a journalist who continues to make a mark. 

One reason I advocated for choosing Holt for this honor is his dedication to local news, which I believe is an essential asset to our communities that is increasingly under attack. Holt spent the first half of his career in local news in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. He made reporting from hometowns across the country a trademark of his “NBC Nightly News” program. He even passed his passion for local news to his son, Stefan Holt, now a local NBC anchor in New York. 

Poynter will honor Lester Holt at our annual Bowtie Ball, this year on Dec. 8. The Bowtie Ball celebrates the importance of a free, independent press and recognizes accomplished journalists for their contributions. It is also a nod to Nelson Poynter, the “little guy in a bow tie who changed American journalism” and established the school for journalists that later became The Poynter Institute.  

We are pleased to honor Lester Holt with the Poynter Medal of Lifetime Achievement, and I look forward to a great celebration of journalism here in December. I hope you will join us.


The 2018 Bowtie Ball Honoring Lester Holt

Saturday, December 8 
Tradewinds Island Grand Resort Pavilion

Poynter’s annual Bowtie Ball celebrates significant contributions to journalism and the essential role of a free press in democracy. It’s also a fusion of fashion, fun and community. All proceeds of the beachfront gala will support the nonprofit Poynter Institute. 

Individual tickets are available for $150, and tables and sponsorships are available by contacting my colleague Wendy Wallace at (727) 553-4311.

Get your tickets here.

Cocktail attire required. Bowties encouraged.


Don’t miss our other upcoming events

In my last email, I announced the lineup for Poynter’s stellar 2018 speaker series. These community conversations are a chance for you to ask questions about national issues with local impact and get no-BS answers from nationally prominent journalists. 

We just added a new event in September with the co-founder of LinkedIn about what the workforce will look like in 20 years. Teaser: Around 50 percent of today’s jobs won’t exist. Anyone with a job will find the conversation fascinating — and crucial.  

  • Sept. 27  The Future of Work with LinkedIn co-founder Allen Blue and PBS NewsHour Weekend anchor Hari Sreenivasan
  • Nov. 29  Midterm Election Results: What Happened and Why? with CNBC chief Washington correspondent John Harwood, The Cook Report national editor Amy Walter, Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam C. Smith and Poynter Ethics Chair Indira Lakshmanan


When in Rome, we check facts

Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) hosted its fifth annual Global Fact-Checking Summit in Rome last month. This year, 225 participants from 56 countries discussed topics ranging from fact-checking during a humanitarian crisis to Russian disinformation. One theme? Fact-checkers have a crucial role in fighting for the future of the internet

Poynter’s PolitiFact also attended the summit in Rome, filming an episode of “What the Fact” at Circus Maximus. You can watch episodes filmed on this side of the Atlantic on Sundays at 10 a.m. on 1229 on Charter/Spectrum.

Instagram from Politifact


Fact-checking back home

A recent Gallup/Knight Foundation report found that two-thirds of Americans think news on social media is misinformation. This percentage must include Elon Musk, who joined PolitiFact’s Truth Squad after tweeting about creating a credibility and truth-tracking website.

There is indeed a problem with people’s ability to identify misinformation and hoaxes online. To help address this with young people, Poynter taught more than 500 teenagers how to fact-check the internet at the Teen Vogue Summit. The presentation was part of our groundbreaking digital literacy project, MediaWise


Poynter’s pointers about covering current events 

There’s been a deluge of intense breaking news events in the last month, and Poynter faculty were a vital a resource for reporters in the trenches. We offered ethical advice on covering suicide in the wake of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. We provided resources and training for reporters covering immigration policy and the inequities of local jails in their communities. 

We also supported and advocated for reporters following the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Maryland where five newsroom employees were killed. We reminded our colleagues that what they do matters — and it's dangerous work. It is our mission to protect journalism as essential to democracy, and that means protecting journalists.


Tampa Bay teens @ Poynter 

Summer at Poynter is a time for teaching teens. In one of our original Poynter programs, we taught 30 Tampa Bay high schoolers modern journalism skills. Now six of them are joining the MediaWise project as summer interns to help us identify information on social media to fact-check. Follow their work on Instagram @MediaWiseTips.

Poynter’s yearlong Write Field program, geared toward closing the achievement gap for middle school African-American and Hispanic boys, also culminated in June with a powerful graduation ceremony and publication of the boys’ writing. One graduate, Timothy Jones, was recently accepted into National Association of Black Journalists’ High School Journalism program in Detroit, and another, Brian Bynum, had his story about Mallex Smith featured in the Tampa Bay Rays’ game day program. 

Write Field Graduation


Role reversal in the classroom

Students became the teachers in our second of three women’s leadership academies this year. Alumnae returned as instructors to usher in another close-knit cohort of women leaders after leapfrogging in their own journalism careers. 

Likewise, teachers became students in our eighth annual Teachapalooza, a conference for college journalism educators around the country. As you might expect, they were enthusiastic about learning


Carrying on the legacy of Nelson Poynter

We formally commemorated the legacy of Nelson Poynter on June 15, the 40th anniversary of his death. He really was a big deal, as the Tampa Bay Times editorial team acknowledged on its front page. So was his second wife, who finally got the acknowledgment she deserves. 

Both Nelson and his wife Henrietta foresaw a time when an independent, fact-based press would be challenged. 

Thank you for your support and interest in the Poynter Institute. Now more than ever, we’re working to protect the democratic foundation of journalism and ensure that it thrives in the future. 


Neil Brown
The Poynter Institute 

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Neil Brown is the president of The Poynter Institute. He joined Poynter in September 2017, after serving as the editor and vice president of the…
Neil Brown

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