August 26, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Aug. 26, 2019) – The Poynter Institute announces that the Media Transformation Challenge program will relocate from the Harvard Kennedy School to Poynter effective January 2020.

The Media Transformation Challenge began as the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism during the 2006-2007 academic year. The program was endowed by Judith, Ruth and Marian Sulzberger and named in honor of their brother, Arthur Ochs “Punch” Sulzberger, the retired publisher of The New York Times. It moved to Harvard in 2018 and became the MTC Challenge: Leadership in a Tech-Driven World.

Since its inception, the program has brought together 250 senior media executives from across the industry for week-long sessions and year-round coaching to improve the sustainability and profitability of news organizations in the midst of constant technological disruption.

Alumni include CNN Digital editor-in-chief Meredith Artley, NPR SVP of programming Anya Grundmann, Kinzen co-founder Aine Kerr, Knight Foundation vice president Jennifer Preston, Mother Jones CEO Monica Bauerlein, Reveal/CIR CEO Christa Scharfenberg, Associated Press executive editor/SVP Sally Buzbee, and BBC head of newsgathering Jonathan Munro.

“Poynter is proud to host and partner with MTC, and to continue the contributions this program has made since 2007 improving future of the participating enterprises and those they serve,” said Neil Brown, Poynter president and a member of the 2019 MTC class. “Through my own participation in MTC’s forward-looking, capacity-building approach, I’ve experienced, for myself and for my organization, the meaningful change and new possibilities that the practice fosters.”

Poynter is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism. More than 5,000 journalists, business leaders, entrepreneurs, freelancers, designers and educators visit Poynter each year to participate in intensive workshops or seminars. A significant portion of Poynter training, both at Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Florida and in newsrooms around the world, is devoted to strengthening leadership in the shifting, audience-centered media industry. This includes bedrock programs like Leadership Academy, diversity-focused initiatives like Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media, pilots like SNPA/Poynter Executive Development Program, and exclusive access experiences like the Poynter Media Innovation Tour.

Since 2017, Poynter has also provided leadership training for local news executives through a yearly Knight-Lenfest Table Stakes program. This program was designed by the architect and founder of the MTC leadership programs at Harvard and Columbia: Douglas K. Smith.

“As we’ve gotten to know Neil and his vision for building on Poynter’s long-standing excellence and impact, it became clear that the Poynter Institute would be a much more natural home for the MTC program,” said Smith. “We also have known Neil from our Table Stakes programs. Poynter has been an important program provider and Neil and his former colleagues at the Tampa Bay Times valued Table Stakes participants.”

At Poynter, the program is called The Media Transformation Challenge: A Poynter Institute Executive Fellowship. Applications for the 2020 program are now open.

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, Florida, and at conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website,, produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a teen digital information literacy project. Collectively, this work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.


Tina Dyakon
Director of Marketing
The Poynter Institute

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