May 16, 2019

Last updated: Jan. 15, 2022

Poynter’s sixth Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media is a transformative, tuition-free leadership program to train journalists of color to thrive, professionally and personally. For the third year, Poynter is partnering with The Washington Post to enhance curriculum and provide some of the instructors.

The 2022 program will take place Oct. 9-14 on Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Florida (pending CDC guidance on COVID-19). Applications for the diversity leadership academy are open Nov. 15, 2021 through Jan. 15 Feb. 11, 2022. 

What do you mean by “diversity”? 

This leadership academy is designed to address the traditional lack of racial diversity in U.S. media.

According to a 2021 survey by RTDNA, only 20% of television news directors were people of color. In radio, only 7.2% of news directors are non-white. Poynter views under-representation as a core ethical problem in journalism. Getting more perspectives and diverse voices into positions that influence news coverage is crucial for both quality journalism and building trust with our audiences.

Who are the instructors this year?

The lead faculty are Doris Truong, director of training and diversity at the Poynter Institute, and Carla Broyles, senior editor for recruitment and training at The Post. 

Instructors for the 2021 program included Caridad Hernandez, WUSA; Krissah Thompson, The Washington Post; Lorraine Lee, Prezi; Michael Grant, Get Current Studios; Sharif Durhams, Raleigh News & Observer and Herald Sun; Everdeen Mason, The New York Times; Mizanur Rahman, The Houston Chronicle; and Ramón Escobar, CNN.

We will announce more instructors closer to the program dates. Check the program page often for updates.

How much does this program cost?

Tuition for this program is free, thanks to the generous support of our partners and sponsors.

Employers are encouraged to support participant travel. However, a limited number of travel stipends are available and will be determined once the application process is completed.

Who is the ideal candidate for the Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media?

We seek journalists of color with leadership responsibilities or who have demonstrated leadership potential. Because the class is strategically small in size, the selection committee looks for evidence of leadership, regardless of whether the applicant has direct reports. 

If you’re reading this and feel like you might be a good fit, you should apply. 

I consider myself a journalist but am not working for a news company. Can I apply? 

Please feel free to apply, but know that we place a priority on journalists who work for news companies. Freelancers must demonstrate their potential to have a positive impact on the media industry.

I’m a journalism educator. Can I apply?

Same as above: We place a priority on journalists who can have an impact within a news organization or on the industry.

I applied for the academy before and wasn’t selected. Why should I apply again?

This program is extremely competitive, but we believe taking the time to complete the application is worth it. For each class, we evaluate both the individuals and the group as a whole: We look for a rich mix of diversity across multiple areas. We also give great consideration to the strengths and weaknesses of the groups; we aim to select a cohort of people who complement one another so that, even after the program ends, the participants can lean heavily upon one another to continue growing and successfully challenging the status quo of the media industry. 

Can I apply if I live outside the U.S.?

This program is limited to journalists working for U.S.-based newsrooms. 

What do you mean by an example of a digital project “you have been involved in”?

While this program name no longer includes “digital,” digital work and innovation are no less important. After all, the Poynter Institute is all about helping the journalism industry be sustainable for years to come. 

The project can be anything you worked on, either solo or as a team. This could be a substantial story or series of stories, a website, an app or anything else in the digital space. In some cases, there may not be one specific final product to point to — you may have coordinated a social media campaign or a real-life event. In that case, explain your involvement and leadership in the project, and your supporting link could be to a hashtag or series of social posts that are a good representation of the work you’ve done.

In addition to looking for an example of your work in the digital space, we’re looking for your self-reflection. Beyond getting the job done, why was it important to do at all? Who benefited? How did it challenge or change the way your newsroom approaches content, community engagement, sponsorship — you name it. We want to see that you understand the importance of your work and the implications of this work to your growth as a leader.

Can you tell me what you’re looking for with the reference letter?

We recommend you ask someone who works closely with you and who has influence over your career development. The letter writer should speak to your leadership ability and grasp of digital media. The letter should address these questions: 1. What can the applicant learn from this seminar that they can later use to benefit other journalists? 2. What leadership traits does this person already possess, and how can the program help the applicant improve their skills?

How long should a reference letter be?

Due to the volume of applications we receive, please keep recommendation letters to roughly one page. You will need to be ready to copy and paste the recommendation (so, no need for fancy letterhead!) when you submit your application. 

To whom should my reference letter be addressed?

Since a team from Poynter and program alumni will be assisting with the selection process, we suggest addressing letters to the selection committee, without specific names.

I’d like to submit more than one reference letter.

We are glad you’re so excited about applying for this program! Please choose the letter that you think best captures the kind of journalist you are with a clear indication of what next steps can be expected in your career.

Any other tips for application success?

Don’t forget to take ownership for your accomplishments. Be clear about your contributions as you draft your bio and project description, even if you worked as part of a team.

What are the important dates in the application and selection process?

Applications open: Nov. 15, 2021

Applications close: Jan. 15, 2022 Extended to Feb. 11, 2022

Participants selected: By early May 2022

Why is Poynter partnering with The Washington Post?

The Washington Post is exemplary when it comes to both digital media and diversity. It is one of the most diverse large newsrooms in the U.S., thanks in large part to specific diversity initiatives and leadership buy-in. The Post is also consistently recognized for its innovative digital projects like The Lily.

We’re looking forward to providing even more interactive, cutting-edge sessions for our program participants.

How does this program differ from the Leadership Academy for Women in Media?

The Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media welcomes journalists of color of all genders working in U.S.-based news organizations. The program is tuition-free thanks to sponsors.

The Leadership Academy for Women in Media is limited to women and nonbinary journalists; tuition is $1,095 (financial aid is available). Participants come from around the world. Ways to promote diversity, equity and inclusion are addressed throughout the womens academy.

May I apply for both programs?

You certainly can if qualified for both programs, but we strive to make opportunities widely available so will be unlikely to admit any individual into two competitive programs in the same calendar year.

If you still have questions after reading this page, please contact

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Doris Truong is responsible for overseeing Poynter’s teaching across platforms. Her diversity portfolio includes helping newsrooms better cover their communities and providing the resources to…
Doris Truong

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