Samantha Putterman

Samantha Putterman is a fact-checker for PolitiFact. Previously, she was a contributing writer for PolitiFact and has also reported for the Bradenton Herald and the Tampa Bay Times. She is a graduate of USF St. Petersburg, where she majored in journalism and media studies.

View PolitiFact articles by Samantha Putterman

Miriam Valverde

Miriam Valverde is a fact-checker for PolitiFact. Previously, she was a contributing writer for PolitiFact and has also reported for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Bradenton Herald, the Boston Globe and a Boston Spanish-language publication, El Planeta. Miriam graduated from Emerson College with a major in journalism and minor in business studies.

View PolitiFact articles by Miriam Valverde

Kristyn Wellesley

Kristyn Wellesley is the Editorial Director of the MediaWise project, which aims to teach teenagers media literacy skills and how to be critical media consumers in this age of misinformation.

Prior to joining Poynter in January 2020, Kristyn was an editor with the USA TODAY Network in various roles, including Regional Breaking News Editor for the USA TODAY Network-Southwest Florida, and Politics NOW Editor and Content Strategy Analyst for USA TODAY. She has led teams covering major breaking news events, including Hurricane Irma and the shootings at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and worked with the USA TODAY Washington, D.C. bureau on coverage of the recent impeachment hearings. She has previously been a digital editor with the Palm Beach Post and the Cincinnati Enquirer, and digital director for FOX19-WXIX in Cincinnati.

Kristyn holds a master’s degree in International Journalism from City, University of London and a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University, and is a proud 2018 graduate of Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Media.

Ahsante Bean

Ahsante is Editor & Program Manager, Video Strategy at Poynter, where she’s focusing on developing innovative digital content with local newsrooms to reach younger audiences.

Prior to joining Poynter, Ahsante was an Associate Director of Programming at PBS Digital Studios. There, she worked on editorial and content development for a slate of 20 educational online video series including It’s Okay to be Smart, Physics Girl, and The Art Assignment. She also created and executive produced Say It Loud, a PBS digital series celebrating Black history, culture, and achievement. Prior to PBS, she worked in Children’s Programming at WGBH, and as a Multimedia Storyteller at the global design firm IDEO.

Ahsante has a background in video production and currently creates videos on her personal YouTube channel as “Ahsante the Artist”. There, she makes videos on personal development and social awareness that inspire her audience to move consciously and creatively through life. Ahsante has been a featured creator at VidCon, the largest international conference for online video, and is a 2018 YouTube NextUp winner. She has produced content for Microsoft, WNET, and VSPINK, among others. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, MSNBC, The Root, and in the Museum of the Moving Image.

Ahsante holds a B.A. in Visual and Environmental Studies: Film/Video from Harvard University. She is currently based in Washington, D.C.

Bill McCarthy

Bill McCarthy is a staff writer for PunditFact and PolitiFact. Previously, he worked as a reporter for PolitiFact North Carolina at the News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, and before that as an intern with PolitiFact’s national team in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Duke University, where he majored in public policy and earned a certificate in policy journalism.

Alexa Volland

Alexa Volland is a multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project. Before joining Poynter, she was the web editor for the Tampa Bay Times’ high school newspaper, tb-two*. She then went on to join the Times’ features department as a copy editor and designer. Prior to that, she was a journalism teacher in Pinellas County. She graduated from the University of Florida, where she studied journalism and education.

Alex Mahadevan

Alex Mahadevan is senior multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project.

He most recently worked as a data journalist at the personal finance startup The Penny Hoarder. Prior to that, Mahadevan served as the news innovation editor at Observer Media Group. He has covered politics, real estate and development and breaking news.

Cristina Tardáguila

Cristina Tardáguila is the International Fact-Checking Network’s Associate Director. She was born in May 1980, in Brazil, and has lived in Rio de Janeiro for most of her life. Since 2014, Tardáguila has dedicated her professional life to verification. She is the founder of Agência Lupa, the first fact-checking initiative in her country, and also responsible for LupaEducação, its educational branch.

Tardáguila studied Journalism at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and got her master’s degree, also in Journalism, from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, in Madrid (Spain). In 2017, she added to her resumé an MBA on Digital Marketing, from Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV-Rio de Janeiro), and is now considered one of the strongest media entrepreneurs in her country.

As a reporter and/or an editor, Tardáguila has worked in some of the most important media outlets in Brazil: O Globo, Folha de S.Paulo, and revista piauí. She has also published two books: “A Arte do Descaso” (in 2016), about the biggest art heist in Brazil – still an unsolved crime. And “Você foi Enganado” (2018), about presidential false claims heard in Brazilian politics since 1920.

Her interest in dis/misinformation combat has taken her to TEDx’s red carpet twice and has turned her into elPeriodico’s best journalist of 2018. This award is annually given by Grupo Zeta, in Spain, to the most impressive journalist of the year. Tardaguila has also been nominated for Premio Gabriel García Marquez, in Colombia, and Prêmio Comunique-se, in Brazil. Both in their innovation categories.

Tardáguila is married, has a daughter and is fluent in Portuguese, English and Spanish.

Heaven Taylor-Wynn

Heaven Taylor-Wynn is a recent graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, where she majored in telecommunication with a specialization in news. She previously interned at PolitiFact and returns to Poynter as a multimedia reporter with the MediaWise project.

Baybars Örsek

Baybars Örsek is the director of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute, the premier global coalition of fact-checking organizations.  He launched some internationally recognized initiatives on fact-checking and open data and had acted as a board member of the IFCN since December of 2016. In that capacity, he took an active part in overseeing the fact-checking project’s applications to join the network as verified signatories.

Before joining the International Fact-Checking Network; Örsek founded Turkey’s first and only political fact-checking project Doğruluk Payı (Share of Truth) in 2014 and Turkey’s open data platform Veri Kaynagi (Data Source), as the founding chairman of Turkey’s leading media non-profit Izlemedeyiz (On Watch). In 2018, he led the efforts in organizing the first international fact-checking conference in Antalya, Turkey, bringing fact-checkers together the first time in the region.

He is a frequent expert source for major media outlets around the world, including the Voice of America and the BBC. He and his works are awarded respectively by the Transparency International and Sabanci Foundation Turkey.

Baybars Örsek is a member of the board of trustees at TESEV, Turkey’s oldest think tank. Before founding On Watch and launching Doğruluk Payı in 2014, he worked at his alma mater Istanbul Bilgi University. Örsek holds a BA degree in international relations and an MA degree in conflict resolution.

Josh Herrington

As Development Director, Josh Herrington is responsible for raising funds from individuals, businesses, and foundations to support Poynter’s programs. After studying advertising and music performance at The University of South Florida, Josh spent two decades in Seattle directing nonprofit fundraising campaigns in the areas of public media journalism, chronic homelessness, and the arts. Josh is thrilled for the opportunity to be a part of Poynter’s mission of helping develop inspirational and responsible journalism.

Bridget Donovan

Bridget Donovan

As interactive learning manager, Bridget oversees Poynter’s News University (NewsU) – the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered users from around the world. She is passionate about Poynter’s mission and critical role in journalism and democracy.

Bridget is a growth-minded strategic leader with 15+ years’ experience developing interactive, learner-centered online educational programs, courses and content for a variety of audiences. She has international leadership and education management experience working with diverse teams and technologies.

Prior to joining Poynter in 2019, she led her own company, media-ecology, helping brands and businesses engage learners online. From 2007 to 2013, she served as director, elearning & business development at the University of South Florida, the tenth-largest top-tier research university in the United States. Bridget partnered on the debut of NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News. She launched the U.S. digital education service for the London office of Espresso Education, the award-winning digital learning service. She oversaw training for Espresso Education in London and East England managing a customer base of 44 Local Education Authorities consisting of more than 3,500 schools serving 1.2 million students.

Bridget has produced digital media for PBS, Discovery Education Espresso, and her work has garnered Telly, Webby, Interactive Media Award and British Film Council and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts recognition. Bridget started her career working at, contributing to PBS Kids, PBS Teacherline and a variety of digital offerings.

Bridget has a master’s degree in educational research from Cambridge University, where she conducted and published applied research on human-computer interaction. Bridget has two bachelor’s degrees from Syracuse University, one in child and family studies and one in psychology.

Bridget loves raising her two children, living, working and stand up paddleboarding in Tampa Bay/St. Pete. 

Tom Jones

Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30 years, and has also worked for the Tampa Tribune and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Through his sports columns, including his popular weekly critique of sports on TV and radio called “Two Cents,” Tom has established himself as one of the most respected and accessible columnists in America today. He has a superb knack for blending the expertise gained from his reporting and rich network of sources, with the sensibilities of his audience. The result is work that is smart, easy to read and wonderfully resonant.


Latishia Williams

Latishia Williams has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 25 years in roles from Accounting Assistant to her current position as Staff Accountant.