Craig Newmark Foundation gives Poynter $1 million to fund chair in journalism ethics

Some exciting news on the homefront: The Craig Newmark Foundation, the charitable organization established by Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark, is giving Poynter $1 million to fund a faculty chair in journalism ethics.

The gift will support a five-year program at Poynter that focuses on verification, fact-checking and accountability in journalism. It's the largest donation Poynter's ever received from an individual foundation.

The Newmark Chair will expand on Poynter's teaching in journalism ethics and develop certification programs for journalists that commit to ethical decision-making practices. The faculty member will also organize an annual conference on ethics issues at Poynter and be a regular contributor to Poynter.org.

Poynter will begin accepting applications for the job in January.

"I want to stand up for trustworthy journalism, and I want to stand against deceptive and fake news," Newmark, founder of Craigslist and the Craig Newmark Foundation, said in a statement. "And I want to help news organizations stand and work together to protect themselves and the public against deception by the fake media. Poynter's the right place to do this work because the Institute has long been very serious about trustworthy news and committed to both training journalists and holding media organizations accountable."

Newmark's gift comes at a challenging time for journalism. The spread of propaganda masquerading as news, turbocharged by social media, has led many to confuse fact with fiction. The flourishing of hyperpartisan news has further fragmented audiences, sowing mistrust of journalists reporting accurate information. Meanwhile, trust in the media is at an all-time low after an election result that was largely unforeseen by pundits and pollsters.

There's a lot of work to do for the faculty member, who will be hired in 2017, Kelly McBride, Poynter's vice president of academic programs and its resident ethicist, said in a statement.

"This gives us the opportunity to build upon the ethics teaching that Poynter faculty, including Bob Steele, Roy Peter Clark, Keith Woods, Al Tompkins and I have done for years," McBride said.

The incoming faculty member will work with other organizations, including The Trust Project, the American Press Institute, Google and Facebook to support trustworthy news.

Given the spread of fake news on social media, the need for credible, trusted information has never been more critical, Poynter President Tim Franklin said in a statement.

“This gift allows Poynter to begin a much-needed expansion of its vital work with journalists in exploring the intersection of media, technology and ethics," he said. "Our goal is to grow this into a centerpiece of Poynter’s work in the future."

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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