How Poynter is supporting local journalists and newsrooms during the coronavirus crisis

We are dedicated to supporting the industry in creative, relevant, collaborative ways.

May 20, 2020

The coronavirus is a story unlike any in a generation. It’s a global issue playing out differently in every community on the planet. No single place or person can bear the responsibility of documenting it, nor is any organization immune from its devastating economic toll.

The rapid pace of information — and disinformation — calls for a clearinghouse of smart journalism and creative solutions. Poynter, with its industry standing, its underpinning as an independent broker and its commitment to craft and ethical decision-making, has become a hub for newsrooms and nonprofits to share their energy, their power, their ideas.

With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and others, Poynter aims to provide a full spectrum of resources that journalists — particularly those serving local communities — need to cover and confront all aspects of the pandemic.

Here’s how Poynter is doing it:

We launched “Locally,” an online journalism news site and resource center.

  • Locally is an information hub designed specifically to help local journalists navigate their rapidly changing industry. Poynter’s Kristen Hare, the preeminent local news industry beat reporter, is the site’s editor.
  • Local journalists will find regularly updated lists of layoffs and closures, funding opportunities, tools and guidance, remote training, jobs, and obituaries — all in one central place.
  • Hare’s newsletter, Local Edition, offers a weekly roundup of local journalism from around the country, and extends Locally’s reach and ability to connect journalists and citizens.

Poynter’s media experts serve local journalists by generating story ideas and promoting best practices.

  • Poynter senior faculty for broadcast and online Al Tompkins publishes a daily Covering COVID-19 briefing, a lively newsletter created for local journalists. He identifies new stories that need local coverage, provides explanatory background on difficult issues, and shares best practices for news companies.
  • The Poynter Report by Tom Jones provides insight on the larger media scene, critiquing how news organizations are covering the coronavirus story and grappling with this behemoth of a story across a variety of journalism and media outlets.
  • Poynter.org is a wellspring of original coverage by reporters, faculty members, and freelancers that examine the virus’ effects on journalism, including the revenue pressures that are crippling some local news companies. A grant from the Rita Allen Foundation will fund coverage of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on low-income communities and people of color.

Poynter is an aggregator, convener and collaborator.
Professional associations and nonprofits that serve and support journalism are collecting provocative ideas, publishing thoughtful reports, and thinking through some of the thorniest questions on local news and this historic crisis. Poynter seeks to be a clearinghouse to celebrate, promote and share the work of these entities. The collective is the resource; Poynter can be a first-stop for tips, training, and publishing the work of industry supporters.

Poynter’s News University expanded its virtual training opportunities.
Poynter launched a series of 30-minute “On Poynt” Zoom sessions designed to engage viewers in conversations about the journalism issues facing local newsrooms, plus deliver practical tips that journalists can immediately bring to their coverage. So far, topics have included how to prioritize diversity during the pandemic with Doris Truong and Steve Bien-Aimé, crisis communication for leaders with Cheryl Carpenter and sorting through mountains of data for easier fact-checking with Alex Mahadevan. On Poynt sessions are free to attend live and replay on demand.

And, as always, our e-learning platform, News University, features a variety of deep-dive courses and online group seminars that are affordable for even the smallest newsrooms.

NewsU and Poynter reinvigorate virtual training for colleges and student media.
In some communities, student journalists are the only source of local news. Now, these new reporters are covering a story that even veteran journalists struggle to grasp, while they try to communicate with remote classmates and advisors. At the same time, college professors need virtual content and training around coronavirus and journalism. To help, Poynter’s NewsU is offering its full catalog free to college professors and students through May 2020. NewsU has also created training for students to develop the skills they need to report this story right now and for professors to effectively teach online, while connecting Poynter faculty to virtual college classes to guest lecture.

Poynter brings its expertise in ethics to help journalists and citizens think about challenges and make decisions.
Kelly McBride — senior vice president at Poynter and chair of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership — helps individuals and organizations develop a process for ethical decision-making and engage stakeholders on pressing questions such as:

Poynter combats coronavirus misinformation.
Led by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute, the #CoronaVirusFacts / #DatosCoronaVirus Alliance unites more than 100 fact-checkers around the world in publishing, sharing and translating facts surrounding the new coronavirus. This group, the largest collaborative project ever launched in the fact-checking world, has published a database with more than 5,300 fact-checks from 70+ countries in 40+ languages. With new data visualization tools, local journalists can easily track waves of global misinformation and see how their community’s conspiracies fit into the larger picture. Instead of spending precious newsroom resources on fact-checking the latest rumor on Nextdoor or inflammatory statements from the mayor’s office, local journalists can check the Alliance database — it’s likely the claims have already been debunked.

Go to poynter.org/covid19 to find the resources you need now.

And continue to visit Locally, dedicated to providing ongoing resources specifically to local newsrooms.