Poynter Announces Center for Ethics and Leadership, Aims to Elevate Fact-Based Expression and Civil Discourse

The Center is made possible by a $5 million grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

February 6, 2019
Category: From the Institute

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Feb. 6, 2019) – The Poynter Institute, a global nonprofit dedicated to excellence in journalism, has been awarded a $5 million grant from Craig Newmark Philanthropies to establish the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter. The grant is the single largest contribution to Poynter.

The Center for Ethics and Leadership will advance the quality of journalism and improve fact-based expression by training journalists and working with news organizations to hone and adopt meaningful and transparent ethics practices. In this way, the Center at Poynter aims to be the “industry’s ombudsman” —  a place where journalists, ethicists, and citizens convene to elevate American discourse and battle disinformation and bias.

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Craig Newmark (Photo by Bleacher+ Everard)

“I want to stand up for trustworthy journalism and stand against deceptive and fake news,” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. “And I want to help news organizations work together to protect themselves and the public. Poynter’s the right place to do this work because the Institute has long been very serious about trustworthy news, and it has been committed to both training journalists and holding media organizations accountable.”

Poynter senior vice president Kelly McBride, a writer, teacher and nationally recognized voice on media ethics, will lead the initiative as the Craig Newmark Journalism Ethics Chair.

Under McBride’s leadership, the Center will provide:

  • Basic and advanced training on ethics practices for media organizations.
  • Consultation for organizations in creating or updating ethics and leadership policies. The Center will be a clearinghouse for best practices.
  • Extensive coverage of journalism ethics as a beat, including in-depth special reports, an ethics newsletter, a regular “Ask the Ethicist” column and a possible ethics-focused podcast.
  • An annual fellowship for a professional journalist to conduct research, write and teach ethics and share expertise with organizations nationally.
  • An annual trust and ethics summit that brings together those working to improve trust in journalism and combat misinformation.

With Poynter’s belief that integrity starts at the top of an organization, support from the grant will augment the Institute’s deeply effective leadership programming. This will ensure that robust ethics sessions will be woven into all leadership academies.

“The need for credible, trusted information is critical to a healthy democratic society,” said Poynter President Neil Brown. “Through this profound act of Craig Newmark Philanthropies in support of journalistic integrity and excellence, Poynter will build on its long history of promoting media ethics and elevating the practice of journalism. Starting with the credentials of Poynter’s Kelly McBride, the Center will yield and promote something precious: independent, credible information that will help citizens successfully participate in our democracy.”

Stay connected with the Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter. Sign up here for email updates.

McBride was one of the first ethics fellows at Poynter in the early 2000s and later became ethics faculty, writing about plagiarism and specializing in how to cover sexual assault, suicide and mental health issues. She is the co-editor, along with American Press Institute President Tom Rosenstiel, of The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century (2013) and co-host of the Everyday Ethics podcast. McBride served as ESPN’s ombudsman in 2012 and 2013. The world’s largest newsrooms, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, NPR and the BBC, frequently seek her advice for internal decisions and quote her expertise in their stories.

Kelly McBride (Photo by Sara O’Brien)

“Journalism values are under threat right now on multiple fronts — the economic structure of the industry has eroded, social media has disrupted the way news is distributed and powerful voices dismiss facts by calling them fake,’’ McBride said. “It’s no surprise that there’s been a significant rise in the number of journalists and newsrooms who are seeking help with ethics issues. We want to provide journalism with the reinforcements needed to strengthen the news that underpins democracy.”

Craig Newmark Philanthropies was created by Web pioneer and philanthropist Craig Newmark, who has long been a supporter of Poynter’s ethics program. Newmark is a member of the Poynter Foundation board and contributed funds to support the development of The New Ethics of Journalism. He has also supported Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. And, in 2017, Craig Newmark Philanthropies gave a $1 million grant to the Poynter Institute to establish the Craig Newmark Journalism Ethics Chair.

Since that time, Poynter hosted an Ethics Summit in Washington, D.C., and commissioned an annual Trust in the Media Survey. The initial grant supported a program that focused on the best practices of verification, fact-checking and accountability journalism and built on the full range of Poynter’s teaching expertise. The creation of the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Leadership will enable the Institute to not only do more of this work but also train and prepare new journalism ethicists and elevate journalistic practice.

Ethics has always been core to the foundational skills that Poynter considers critical to the practice of journalism. The Institute teaches fact-checking, reputable sourcing, verification, leadership skills and news literacy to reporters, editors, news executives, educators and news consumers. It is home to three major initiatives that are battling misinformation: PolitiFact.com, the International Fact-Checking Network, and the news literacy program MediaWise.

The grant to the Poynter Institute is part of Craig Newmark Philanthropies’ $15 million investment to strengthen and advance journalism ethics, with $10 million going to the Columbia Journalism School to establish and name the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security and the Craig Newmark Professorship of Journalism.

These philanthropic efforts demonstrate Newmark’s continued commitment to strengthening and advancing journalism ethics, promoting trustworthy news, and helping to open a dialogue on the connection between an ethical press and a strong democracy.

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, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website, poynter.org, produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a teen digital information literacy project. 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 broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.

About Craig Newmark Philanthropies

Craig Newmark Philanthropies was created by craigslist founder Craig Newmark to support and connect people and drive broad civic engagement. The organization works to advance people and grassroots organizations that are getting stuff done in areas that include trustworthy journalism, voter protection, gender diversity in technology, and veterans and military families. For more information, please visit: CraigNewmarkPhilanthropies.org.

Contact: Tina Dyakon

Director of Advertising and Marketing

The Poynter Institute

tdyakon@poynter.org

727-553-4343

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