May 16, 2019

Last updated: Feb. 7, 2020

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

The 2020 program will take place June 14-19 on Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Florida. The deadline to apply is Feb 14.

What do you mean by “diversity”? 

This leadership academy is designed to address racial diversity in media.

According to the 2019 diversity survey by the News Leaders Association, only 25% of newsroom managers were people of color. Poynter views this as a core ethical issue 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 Tthe Poynter Institute, and Carla Broyles, senior editor for recruitment and training at The Post. Martin Baron, editor of The Post, will be one of the keynote speakers.

We will announce more instructors shortly! 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 Digital Media?

We’re looking for journalists of color working in digital media who have leadership responsibilities — formal or otherwise — and are looking to continue climbing the career ladder. 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 can have an impact within a news organization.

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.

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.

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

This program is limited to journalists working for U.S.-based newsrooms. We do encourage international applicants to consider Essential Skills for Rising Newsroom Leaders (spring or winter) and the Leadership Academy.

Can I refer a colleague?

Yes! We encourage you to share this opportunity with colleagues, peers, friends and supervisors.

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

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, for example. 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.

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

We recommend you ask someone who works closely with you who could speak to your demonstrated leadership ability and/or 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 others in their organization? 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 anticipate receiving, please keep letters to roughly one page. Don’t worry about getting your recommendation on fancy letterhead.

To whom should my reference letter be addressed?

Since a team from Poynter and volunteers from a variety of journalism organizations will be assisting with the selection process, we suggest addressing letters to the selection committee, without specific names.

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. 19, 2019
Applications close: Feb.14, 2020
Participants announced: By early May 2020

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.

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

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As director of training and diversity at Poynter, Doris Truong is responsible for overseeing in-person training — at the institute and in newsrooms — as…
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