January 4, 2023

Poynter’s seventh Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media is a transformative leadership program to train BIPOC journalists to thrive professionally and personally. The 2023 program will take place Oct. 1-6 on Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Florida. Applications for the diversity leadership academy are open Jan. 4 through Feb. 17, 2023. 

What do you mean by ‘diversity’? 

This leadership academy is designed to address the traditional lack of racial diversity in U.S. media.

According to a 2021 survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), only 20% of TV news directors were people of color. In radio, only 7.2% of news directors are non-white. Poynter views under-representation as a core ethical problem 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 for 2023 is Kathy Lu. She is an adjunct at Poynter and founder of Audiencibility.com, a media consulting business focused on helping the next generation of journalists succeed. She has more than two decades of experience as a leader, manager and editor in journalism.

Instructors for the 2022 program included Sushil Cheema, executive coach; Eric Deggans, NPR TV critic; Katrice Hardy, executive editor at The Dallas Morning News; Omar Gallaga, Poynter adjunct faculty; Marcus Mabry, CNN Digital senior vice president of content strategy and global programming; Kelly McBride, Poynter senior vice president and Craig Newmark Ethics Center chair; Jason Murray, assignment editor at The Washington Post; Monica Norton, The Washington Post deputy managing editor; and Joe Ruiz, CNN senior politics editor.

We will announce more instructors closer to the program dates. Check the program page for updates.

How much does this program cost?

On average for a participant based in the U.S., the average total cost of attending the Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media is $2,000. 

Tuition is $500 and covers six days of teaching, one-on-one coaching and networking, including social activities. Participants receive a facilitated 360-degree review and will work with a certified trainer to review their personality inventory. 

A limited number of tuition stipends will be available. Please indicate if you need financial assistance on your application. 

Travel costs will depend on airfare and hotel rates, but are often around $1,500. Employers are encouraged to support participant travel. 

Who is the ideal candidate for the Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media?

We seek BIPOC journalists with leadership responsibilities or demonstrated leadership potential. Because the class is strategically small in size, the selection committee looks for evidence of leadership, regardless of whether the applicant has direct reports. 

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 work for news companies. Freelancers must demonstrate their potential to have a positive impact on the media industry.

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. For each class, we evaluate both the individuals and the group as a whole. We look for a rich mix of diversity across multiple areas. We also give great consideration to the strengths and weaknesses of the groups; we aim to select a cohort of people who complement one another so that, even after the program ends, the participants can lean heavily upon one another to continue growing and successfully challenging the status quo of the media industry. 

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

Yes. English-fluent BIPOC journalists working in news media organizations in the U.S., or with similar structures to U.S. news media organizations, are encouraged to apply.

In the application, what do you mean by an example of a digital project “you have been involved in”?

While this program name no longer includes “digital,” digital work and innovation are no less important. After all, the Poynter Institute is all about helping the journalism industry be sustainable for years to come. 

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. 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.

In addition to looking for an example of your work in the digital space, we’re looking for your self-reflection. Beyond getting the job done, why was it important to do at all? Who benefited? How did it challenge or change the way your newsroom approaches content, community engagement, sponsorship — you name it. We want to see that you understand the importance of your work and the implications of this work to your growth as a leader.

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

We recommend you ask someone who works closely with you and who has influence over your career development. The letter writer should speak to your leadership ability and grasp of digital media. The letter should address three questions: What can the applicant learn from this seminar that they can later use to benefit other journalists, 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 receive, please keep recommendation letters to roughly one page. You will need to be ready to copy and paste the recommendation (so, no need for fancy letterhead!) when you submit your application. 

To whom should my reference letter be addressed?

Since a team from Poynter and program alumni will be assisting with the selection process, we suggest addressing letters to the selection committee, without specific names.

I’d like to submit more than one reference letter.

We are glad you’re so excited about applying for this program! Please choose the letter that you think best captures the kind of journalist you are, with a clear indication of what next steps can be expected in your career.

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: Jan. 4, 2023

Applications close: Feb. 17, 2023

Participants selected: By April 2023

How does this program differ from the Leadership Academy for Women in Media?

The Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media is for BIPOC journalists of all gender identities. Tuition is $500.

The Leadership Academy for Women in Media is for women and nonbinary journalists of all races and ethnicities. Tuition is $1,300. 

Both are intensive, weeklong, in-person programs at Poynter. They are led by different faculty and have unique sessions. 

May I apply for both programs?

You certainly can if qualified for both programs, but we strive to make opportunities widely available so will be unlikely to admit any individual into two competitive programs in the same calendar year.

If you still have questions after reading this page, please contact info@poynter.org.

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Doris Truong is responsible for overseeing Poynter’s teaching across platforms. Her diversity portfolio includes helping newsrooms better cover their communities and providing the resources to…
Doris Truong
Mel Grau is the senior product specialist at The Poynter Institute, focusing on Poynter's training experiences and newsletters. She previously edited The Cohort, Poynter’s biweekly…
Mel Grau

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