March 14, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 15, 2018) – The Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism, is launching regional workshops to provide reporters with the tools and data they need to examine the use and misuse of county jails.  

Thanks to support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, accepted applicants will attend one of Poynter’s two-day workshops for free, including most meals and hotel costs. Attendees will focus on how local jails concern community members, from the taxpayer to the incarcerated.

To apply for a spot in A Journalist’s Guide to Covering Jails workshop, click here.  

This training will take place in four U.S. communities with unique criminal justice issues: New York, Utah, Ohio and Oklahoma. New York is grappling with the realization that while incarceration in New York City has dropped by more than half, facilities around the state have grown dramatically. Oklahoma City’s Chamber of Commerce got involved with reform to combat the strain that overflowing local jails had on taxes.

These examples reflect larger trends. Local jails are often overused and ineffective, with disproportionate impacts on rural, low-income and other disempowered people.

“What do these facts tell us about our communities and how democracy is functioning?” asked Patrick Griffin, Senior Criminal Justice Program Officer at the MacArthur Foundation. “Who is in jail? Why? To make our communities better, we need journalists who can shed light on these stories.”

As newsrooms have shrunk, journalists have less time for the traditional reporting that took them to jails and police stations every day in search of stories. The strain is amplified in smaller newsrooms.

“At Poynter, helping save and reinvent local news is central to our mission,” said Poynter Vice President Kelly McBride. “This teaching will surface the sources and resources that will make telling the crucial stories about county jails accessible to even the smallest newsrooms.”

Poynter is partnering with the Vera Institute of Justice, a leading resource for data and analysis of incarceration in America, and The Marshall Project, a nonpartisan and nonprofit news organization devoted to covering criminal justice. Both organizations will help sharpen reporters’ skills covering criminal justice broadly and identify stories specific to their communities.

The workshops will be led by Al Tompkins, Poynter’s Senior Faculty for Broadcast and Online, in the following locations:

New York City, New York: March 27-28, 2018 (workshop full)

Salt Lake City, Utah: April 11-12, 2018 / (workshop full)

Columbus, Ohio: June 21-22, 2018 / Apply by: May 21

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: August 1-2, 2018 / Apply by: July 2

About The Poynter Institute
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and at conferences and organizational sites around the world. Its e-learning division, News University,, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum in 7 languages, with more than 400 interactive courses and registered users in more than 200 countries. The Institute’s website,, produces 24-hour coverage of news about media, ethics, technology, the business of news and the trends that currently define and redefine journalism news reporting. The world’s top journalists and media innovators come to Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcast producers, and to build public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and protected discourse that serves democracy and the public good.

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