April 23, 2020

The Poynter Institute has been granted a loan of $737,400 through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program — a pool of funds aimed at mitigating the loss of business caused by the profound disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a nonprofit with under 60 employees, Poynter qualified for the loan after demonstrating that approximately 15% of its revenue was at risk this year due to the inability to hold scheduled in-person journalism training programs and events because of the coronavirus. The Institute has since canceled or postponed all such training through October.

“Poynter sprang into action as the coronavirus spread, with an all-hands effort to help journalists better serve their communities with vital news coverage during this crisis,” Poynter president Neil Brown said. “This loan buys us time to find new revenue sources while still offering online training and expertise, battling disinformation and chronicling the journalism industry’s hard and heroic efforts.”

Brown said the loan will help Poynter avert furloughs, layoffs or pay reductions, and can be used to offset utility costs, plus rent at the Washington, D.C. offices of PolitiFact, the fact-checking website owned by Poynter.

According to Jessi Navarro, Poynter’s vice president of business and finance, the Institute on March 21 opened up the majority of its online course catalog on NewsU with a free coupon code and so far has provided some $215,000 worth of training to journalists, educators and students. The training will remain available for free through that code until the end of May.

Poynter, a nonprofit, owns the for-profit Tampa Bay Times news publishing company. The Times, which operates independently of Poynter, made its own application through the SBA program and was granted a loan of $8.5 million last week.

Poynter is also home to the International Fact-Checking Network, the news literacy project MediaWise, and the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership.

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