March 25, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 25, 2021) – The Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism and fact-checking, is pleased to announce the 15 journalists selected from nearly 150 applicants for its prestigious Power of Diverse Voices: Writing Workshop for Journalists of Color.

“Journalists of color need a bigger megaphone than ever to speak our truths. In many cases, these truths weren’t taught in schools and they aren’t regularly shared through news media,” said Poynter’s director of training and diversity, Doris Truong. “It’s our goal to validate these writers’ experiences so they can feel seen and make their voices even more powerful. They will deliver the diversity of perspectives that we urge all news organizations to elevate.”

Now one of Poynter’s most competitive programs, Power of Diverse Voices, led by veteran editor Tom Huang, is a transformative, four-day seminar that helps journalists of color find their voice and build skills for writing opinion pieces and personal essays. Over four days, participants receive dedicated writing time, one-on-one coaching and small-group instruction. Like all flagship Poynter programs, Power of Diverse Voices emphasizes fact-based writing, solid reporting and creating safe spaces for true introspection.

This spring, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the seminar will be held virtually. A second seminar is planned for November.

Participants in this year’s workshops will join an active and successful alumni group. Their work has appeared in podcasts such as “This Land” series by Rebecca Nagle, winner of the 2020 American Mosaic Journalism Prize; in local news such as this column in The New Hampshire Gazette by Shaheen Pasha about being the daughter of Pakistani immigrants; and in national outlets such as Iris Kuo’s column in The Atlantic on the “whitening” of Asian Americans. More recently, Hannah Bae, winner of the 2020 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, wrote about how the movie “Minari” makes room for new Asian American stories.

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“There is a kind of magical chemistry that happened in our time together, and it came from the openness to vulnerability that we all shared,” said Bae, a Brooklyn-based freelance writer who attended the 2019 workshop. “In our lives as journalists, we’re often told to focus on telling other people’s stories, but as people who have had to live on the margins for so long, it was empowering to feel centered for once, especially when we worked with diverse faculty who could relate to our experiences. When members of our faculty got personal with their own stories, I felt like it cracked open something unexpected in me — and the result is that I’ve come away feeling like I’ve connected with a truly powerful cohort of storytellers who are already impacting the journalism I’m producing today.”

Antionette Lee, a reporter for KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia, also attended the 2019 seminar. “The Power of Diverse Voices workshop made me remember that my first love was writing,” she said. “It truly helped me reawaken the talent that even I forgot I had, as a result of years of feeling repressed in a predominantly White newsroom. This was a life-changing experience which has stuck with me beyond our four days of convening.”

The new class — which includes writers working as reporters, freelancers, producers and editors — will attend the virtual seminar April 8-11. Participants were selected with an emphasis on ensuring diversity across race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, geography, technology platforms, organization size and skill sets.

“At a time of division, at a time when people in the margins aren’t always heard, this seminar elevates and amplifies diverse voices,” said Huang, the lead faculty and assistant managing editor for journalism initiatives at The Dallas Morning News. “All of these talented writers will enrich the conversations we’ll have in April and go on to produce important work.”

Poynter is pleased to welcome members of the upcoming Power of Diverse Voices workshop:

  • Rowaida Abdelaziz, national reporter, HuffPost
  • Sunnie Clahchischiligi, contributing writer, SearchlightNM, and instructor, University of New Mexico
  • Charles Clark, columnist, The San Diego Union-Tribune
  • Nicole Clark, freelance culture writer and contributing editor, Catapult
  • Vanessa de la Torre, executive editor, New England News Collaborative
  • Jennifer Medina, national politics reporter, The New York Times
  • Harry Mok, copy editor, San Francisco Chronicle, and lecturer, San Francisco State
  • Ismael Perez, editorial board member, Chicago Sun-Times
  • Juan Michael Porter II, staff writer,
  • Joy Sewing, lifestyle and culture columnist, Houston Chronicle
  • Rashaad Thomas, freelance writer, Black Eyed Witness
  • Esther Tseng, freelance food, drink and culture writer
  • Tina Vásquez, senior reporter, Prism
  • Lam Thuy Vo, data journalist in residence, CUNY
  • María Inés Zamudio, reporter on race, class and communities, WBEZ

These participants will learn from Huang as the lead faculty, as well as the following guest faculty and speakers:

  • Aisha Sultan, filmmaker and syndicated columnist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • Eric Deggans, TV critic, NPR, and adjunct instructor, Duke University
  • Fernanda Santos, professor of practice, Arizona State University, and contributing columnist for Washington Post Opinions
  • Joy Mayer, director, Trusting News; adjunct faculty, Poynter Institute
  • Roy Peter Clark, senior scholar emeritus reporting, writing and editing, Poynter Institute

“This was unquestionably the best writing seminar I’ve ever been a part of,” said Santos, a 2019 alum of the Power of Diverse Voices workshop. “If you’re a writer of color looking to find your true voice, do apply.”

Applications for the November Power of Diverse Voices workshop 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 newsrooms, 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 digital information literacy project for young people, first-time voters and senior citizens. The world’s top journalists and media innovators rely on Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good. Learn more at

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Mel Grau is the senior product specialist at The Poynter Institute, focusing on Poynter's training experiences and newsletters. She previously edited The Cohort, Poynter’s biweekly…
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