High School Journalism Program

LOCATION: The Poynter Institute
COST: $350

Be a better writer, photographer and multimedia ninja. Learn about the news business from the inside, from local journalists and Poynter’s expert faculty. Understand why journalism matters and how you can be a part of it, whether or not you plan to pursue it as a career.

Apply to be one of a prestigious group of high school students in the Tampa Bay area selected to participate in this intensive Poynter program. This one-week workshop will improve your writing and photography, teach you new ways to use social media and digital storytelling tools, and hone your understanding of journalism’s role in a democracy.

No prior journalism experience required — just an interest in the world around you.

Accepted participants in the High School Journalism Program will:

  • Work with globally-renowned Poynter faculty and local prize-winning journalists
  • Wrestle with journalism ethics
  • Discover secrets to good storytelling
  • Write a personal narrative (perfect practice for your college application essay!)
  • Create interactive online elements that could become part of your personal or school media website.


Guest instructors for 2019 will be announced closer to the program dates.

Sean Marcus
Publications Adviser
Carrollwood Day School


Al Tompkins, Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online

Al Tompkins
Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online
The Poynter Institute

Roy Peter Clark
Senior Scholar
The Poynter Institute

Hiwot Hailu
Multimedia Reporter
MediaWise Project, The Poynter Institute

Corey G. Johnson
Investigative Reporter
The Tampa Bay Times

Ren LaForme
Digital Tools Reporter
The Poynter Institute

Kathleen McGrory
Reporter, Investigations Team
Tampa Bay Times

Daylina Miller
Multimedia reporter for Health News Florida
WUSF Public Media

Craig Pittman
The Tampa Bay Times

Mary Shedden
News Director
WUSF Public Media

Kathryn Varn
Tampa Bay Times

The High School Journalism Program is one of the longest-running programs at The Poynter Institute. Founded along with the Institute in 1975, its goal is to give young people the chance to learn about writing and the values and craft of journalism. In fact, six participants from the 2018 High School Journalism Program later joined our MediaWise team as summer interns, helping fact-check information on Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat.

We realize many students in this program won’t go on to pursue careers in journalism. We know, however, that all of them will learn through this program about the important role of journalism and freedom of the press in a democracy.


Below is a tentative schedule for the 2019 program. Sessions and instructors are subject to change.

Program hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

June 10

9:30 a.m. — Welcome & Getting to Know You
10:30 a.m. — Break
10:45 a.m. — Writing Tools
Noon — Lunch in the dining room
1:00 p.m. — Start with a Spark: Storytelling with Adobe Spark
2:30 p.m. — The Personal Essay

This evening — Get your “Photo Walk” release form signed.

June 11

9:30 a.m. — The Power of the Story
10:45 a.m. — Group photo in the great hall. Break.
11:00 a.m. — Finding —and Talking to —Sources
Noon — Lunch in the dining room
1:00 p.m. — Explore Your World through the Lens: How to Make an Impact through Photojournalism. Hands-On Photo Walk Near Poynter.
4:30-6:30 p.m. — WTSP TV Studio Tour

Work on your essays tonight; bring two printed drafts to share on Wednesday afternoon.

June 12

9:30 a.m. — MediaWise — Fact Checking Like a Pro
10:45 a.m. — Break
11:00 a.m. — MediaWise, continued
Noon — Lunch in the dining room
1:00 p.m. — Work on essays or storytelling
2:00 p.m. — Essay Coaching — Poynter faculty, Members of the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild (BAPWG)

This evening — Tell a story through photography or video; make revisions to your essay.

June 13

9:30 a.m. — Storytelling Tools to Make Your Work Sing Online
11:00 a.m. — Audio Reporting and Podcasting
12:00 p.m. — Lunch in the dining room
12:45 p.m. — Team Storytelling/Interviewing — Students will break into groups to engage in storytelling/interviewing activities.

This evening — Complete your essays and team storytelling.

June 14

9:30 a.m. — Editing is your friend. (Really.): How to give edits, take edits and be your own best editor.
11:30 a.m. — Review final posting directions for essay, photos and audio stories.
11:45 a.m. — Working lunch in the Dining Room. Open lab for essay and Spark stories.
1:30 p.m. — Sharing Your Work (Storytelling and Personal Essays)
3:15 p.m. — Graduation/Farewell

Who should apply

Students who are in 8th through 12th grades who are interested in journalism, writing, photography or storytelling with video. This workshop is great for students who work in student media or are considering majoring in journalism, mass communications or integrated marketing communications. Applicants do not need to live in the Tampa Bay area but need to make their own housing and transportation arrangements. Priority goes to local students. Class size is limited to 35 students.

Application process

The application asks you to write an essay, 50 to 100 words, telling us about your interest in this program and why you’d like to participate. This is the most important component of your application, so please spend some time on it. Tell us about your involvement (if any) in student media, your interest in journalism and storytelling and how you hope this workshop will help you.


Tuition for the week-long training is $350 per student and includes supplies, a workshop T-shirt and lunch each day. We’ll meet in Poynter’s comfortable, airy classrooms. You’ll want a digital camera to use (a smartphone is fine), and a tablet or laptop (if you have one).

Students applying for financial aid may request it in the online application as part of their “essay of interest.” Tell us whether you qualify for free or reduced school lunch and any special circumstances you want us to consider.


We’d love to hear from you. Email us at seminars@poynter.org.