October 22, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Oct. 22, 2018) – The Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism, announces that Katy Byron, former Snapchat managing editor and CNN producer, is the organization’s first MediaWise editor and program manager.

MediaWise is a multifaceted project aimed at helping teenagers sort fact from fiction online. Poynter launched MediaWise in March with support from Google.org and partnerships with Stanford History Education Group, Local Media Association and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). Already, the initiative has taught hundreds of young people to be more critical consumers of information on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

“Katy’s expertise in visual storytelling and her leadership on platforms like Snapchat will catapult MediaWise to new places and secure additional partners as we aim to reach 1 million teenagers in the next two years,” said Poynter Institute president Neil Brown. “In an environment where bad information spreads fast, the goal of MediaWise to create better news consumers is of vital importance. Katy has the skills and stature to lead the charge.”

In this new role, Byron will manage dozens of teenage fact-checkers and a growing team of professional reporters, including former PolitiFact reporter Allison Graves and former NBC-affiliate producer Hiwot Hailu. She will expand the new fact-checking product onto Snapchat and other teenager-dominant platforms, train students at workshops around the country and steward relationships with Stanford researchers, news organization and YouTube Creators.

“I could not be more thrilled to join an institution like Poynter and lead a project that supports such a worthy cause,” Byron said. “This is a huge project and the stakes are high. What teens read on the internet today will help shape their life decisions in the future, how they view the world, as well as how they vote when they turn 18. I’m looking forward to working with the MediaWise team to get our message out on social media and across America.”

In the first six months of the project, MediaWise published hundreds of fact-checks on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to identify context around news stories. In January, MediaWise will launch a YouTube series with the Green Brothers’ Crash Course, which has 8.3 million subscribers. John Green, the bestselling author of teenage hits “An Abundance of Katherines” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” will host.

Byron and the MediaWise team will teach what Stanford’s research team calls “civic online reasoning” in real life, too. MediaWise sold out its first regional workshop for teenagers on Oct. 25 at Poynter and is set to host similar events around the country. Byron will also present at South by Southwest® in March.

For more than a decade, Byron covered politics, international news and business as an editor and producer at CNN and CNBC. Her work on Arab Spring coverage and the 2008 presidential election earned her two George Peabody Awards while at CNN.

In 2015, Byron became managing editor of news at Snapchat. She oversaw the production and curation of all news “Our Stories” on Snapchat, which are viewed by millions of users. Byron also launched Our Stories coverage of breaking, local, international, political and business news across multiple languages on the platform.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Byron started in her new role Oct. 15. She reports to Aaron Sharockman, executive director of PolitiFact, the largest fact-checking news organization in the United States. MediaWise joins PolitiFact and the International Fact-Checking Network as the third fact-checking franchise headquartered at Poynter.

About The Poynter Institute
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, newsu.org, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum in seven languages, with over 300 interactive courses and 150,000+ registered users in dozens of countries. The Institute’s website, poynter.org, produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. The world’s top journalists and media innovators come to Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcast producers. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.

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