December 15, 2022

With the new training program Beat Academy, Poynter is taking a more systematic approach to helping newsrooms produce distinctive coverage faster and better. All journalists, and particularly newer ones, need three things to get up to speed on the latest trends that are driving change in their market area — a framework to understand what’s going on, a guide to experts to use as sources and a leg-up on finding the hard data that’s relevant to their community.

On a series of topics, including business, immigration, climate change and health care, Beat Academy will offer a blend of virtual training and ongoing follow-up support. For some topics, completion opens the door to applying for up to $20,000 in reporting grants. Journalists new to the newsroom or deep into their careers can benefit from this program — everyone will learn something new that will help set their coverage apart for years to come.

We’re building these with the needs of local, hyperlocal and regional newsrooms in mind, but national newsroom participants will also come away with greater reporting expertise, story ideas and improved context to save them time in their reporting.

Beat Academy runs from March through October, and costs just $75 for the entire sequence. We cover dynamics both familiar and unexpected. On the business beat, the explosion of private equity deals is reshaping health care, nursing homes and basic utilities like water systems. New immigration patterns are changing the makeup of smaller cities. Most newsrooms will want to track the impact of the new federal infrastructure and climate change initiatives in their state, cities and counties.

Enrollment allows reporters, editors and producers to attend all of the nearly 20 webinars offered under Beat Academy. During our 90-minute sessions, top journalists will explain how they covered a particular story and share their reporting tips. Leading experts will answer questions on the drivers behind the stories newsrooms want to tackle. Each session will give a roadmap to the data that applies locally. The program will provide annotated lists of experts. Fair warning: There will be some homework.

Webinars take place 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern, some topic tracks will involve two webinars, some three, each a week or two apart.

At Beat Academy, follow-up is just as important as training. Poynter will support participants after the fact with coverage ideas, topical developments and links to stories by other participants. We will have dedicated Slack channels so participants can help each other flesh out story ideas, collaborate and work through reporting challenges.

In addition, some of the workshops include reporting grant opportunities for participating newsrooms. Following the private equity workshops, newsrooms can apply for reporting grants of up to $20,000. For climate change, newsrooms in the Great Lakes region can apply for reporting grants up to $15,000. More details to come.

Individual or organizational registrations are available. All sessions are recorded for participants. Funders include the Joyce Foundation, Catena Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Omidyar Network.

Questions? Contact Jon Greenberg, PolitiFact senior correspondent and Poynter Beat Academy project lead, at

2023 topics

We’ll be updating the content for each focus area throughout the coming weeks, and adding sessions on misinformation and another topic to be decided. Stay tuned.


Very few news organizations have a private equity reporter. Some would be lucky to have a business reporter. But private equity investors might own your hospital, or one of your prominent businesses or one of your nursing homes. How can you spot private equity in your community and report on its impact? The private equity angle can be found in nearly every Beat Academy focus area.

Up to three, $20,000 reporting grants are available to journalists and organizations who attend these classes and produce stories in 2023 about private equity investment in their communities. More information will be provided to participants.

Support from: Omidyar Network


From flooding to drought to wildfires and extreme weather of all sorts, communities across America face the need to adapt. In partnership with Climate Central, see what strategies are in play in your region, and how the costs stack up against the cost of extreme events. Plus, a surge of federal dollars and tax credits tied to climate change will touch businesses and homes in your area. We’ll show you how to track what’s coming and how to gauge whether the reality lives up to the hype.

Up to three, $15,000 reporting grants are available to journalists and organizations in the Great Lakes region who attend these classes and produce stories in 2023.

Support from: The Joyce Foundation


Find the local stories in your community driven by these two huge legislative packages. The money has started to flow and it will affect home utility bills, safe water supplies, power grid capacity, the growth of renewable power, the reach of EV charging stations and more. Learn more about the databases that will show you how to compare progress in your market area to what’s happening elsewhere. Smaller cities have limited reporting requirements; we’ll give you the tools to get around that.

Support from: The Joyce Foundation


Most news stories about crime tell audience members very little about the state of public safety in their communities. Instead, crime stories stoke fear and sometimes misinform people about the risk of crime. There are better approaches. Our webinars build off our successful Transforming Crime Reporting training series. Our goal is to help newsrooms and individual journalists do better journalism that both informs the public and holds law enforcement accountable. It’s a shift not just in story planning, but in newsroom culture.

Support from: The MacArthur Foundation


Get beyond the political rhetoric around immigration. Millions of new people have been here for years and more are coming. Increasingly, migrants are headed toward smaller cities. We’ll help put it all in context and point you to the dynamics that matter in your market, such as migrant detention, processing undocumented minors, securing the border and beyond.

Support from: The Catena Foundation


In partnership with the KFF, we shine a light on the particular health challenges in non-metro communities. As hospital networks shrink, they leave behind zones of clinical specialty deserts and local economies that struggle to attract new employers. We help you connect the research to the policies that can make a difference. Plus, we have a special session on combating health misinformation.

Support from: National Institute for Health Care Management Research and Education Foundation


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.
Jon Greenberg is a senior correspondent with PolitiFact. He was part of the PolitiFact team during the 2012 presidential election and was one of the…
Jon Greenberg

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