March 7, 2021

This week, my colleague Kristen Hare launched a project called “The Essential Workers,” which exists because of the work of journalism educators like you.

Here’s what Kristen wrote:

Last year, two journalism professors launched a project to capture the history we’re all living through.

Teri Finneman, an associate professor at the University of Kansas’ William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and William Mari, an assistant professor of media law at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications, got funding to capture the moment from state newspaper associations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Arkansas and from their own universities.

They spoke with publishers, editors, reporters and press associations in 28 places across seven states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

“The idea was to capture history as it was happening and to grab memories while they were fresh of journalists surviving a pandemic of global proportions for the first time in a century,” Mari said.

I encourage you and your students to take a look at the project and consider what the future of local journalism could mean for burgeoning journalists. And I hope you’ll give me a little space for personal reflection.

This project highlights for me the remarkable and incredibly varied work that journalism educators bring to the industry.

March 4 marked a year since I transitioned within Poynter to serve as director of college programming. Over the past year, I’ve seen the incredible impact that journalism educators have on the field — in research, in teaching and especially in advising the next generation of people who are going to do this work that we’ve accepted as our life’s passion.

I just wanted to say that I’m grateful for you and humbled by all that you do, and I look forward to helping you serve the industry for many years to come.

Fighting back

Student editor Jared Nally is suing his university after its president issued a directive that banned him from engaging in basic acts of journalism. (Gary Rohman for FIRE)

Back in October, Poynter wrote about Jared Nally, the student journalist at Haskell Indian Nations University who was directed by his university president to, essentially,  not do journalism. We didn’t update that story until late January, because even though the president rescinded his “directive,” Nally and Co. didn’t find out about it until much later due to an “administrative error.” There are also issues with the newspaper having a full-time adviser, and funding, and being a registered student group … the list goes on. It feels like Haskell has been throwing everything in the we-don’t-support-student-media playbook at The Indian Leader.

Now, Nally and FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) are fighting back. Last week, they filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging that Nally was silenced without any due process. The suit also seeks to “restore over $10,000 of funding that the university inexplicably shorted the newspaper, approve (The Indian Leader)’s registration as a student organization, and revise the unconstitutional policy on campus speech used to issue the directive,” a release from FIRE said.

Help with grant writing

I hear a lot of chatter among advisers and student media directors about seeking grants for student media enterprises (and you absolutely should). Grant writing feels like an intimidating process, but it doesn’t have to be. The Lenfest News Philanthropy Network and RevLab at The Texas Tribune are working together to offer news organizations free workshops this spring about grant-writing. Applications for the first session are due March 8 and limited to 30 class members, so don’t wait to apply. See more here.

Trusting news sessions and lessons

Speaking of getting help, I just heard from my friend Joy Mayer of the Trusting News initiative. She emailed, “We’ve launched the application for our next Trust 101 for Educators class, to run for two weeks in June. We also published this week an updated set of sample assignments and exercises for journalism educators to use.”

Check out the second link for a gold mine of classroom ideas.

Doing the work

Last week was Student Press Freedom Day. As part of the celebration, the Student Press Law Center rounded up “21 Excellent Stories of Student Journalism Against the Odds.” I found these to be particularly compelling:

I hope you never have to deal with this

I’m just including this because it’s so bizarre: “Hit-and-run driver left scene, went to journalism school — and delivered radio report on deadly incident.”

Follow up on a memorable piece

Do you guys remember this story — The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence: What happened to the group of bright college students who fell under the sway of a classmate’s father? It seems like everyone was talking about it when it came out in 2019. Well here’s a wild update … turns out maybe the daughter was in on it? A woman once believed to be a victim in a college sex trafficking case has now been charged in it.

Poynter bylines

This week we featured a lot of great work by contributors, including students. Just a reminder that if you want to pitch a story, column or contribution, email me at Your work might be perfect for Poyner or The Lead newsletter.

College headlines

Great journalism to share with your students

This week’s Professor’s Press Pass

In this week’s Professor’s Press Pass, we ask students to examine the potential conflict of interest that exists between CNN primetime host Chris Cuomo and his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is under fire for allegations of sexual harassment and falsifying data on nursing home deaths during the pandemic. We ask students to consider conflicts of interest between the brothers, and challenge them to come up with their own standards for dealing with conflicts of interest in their upcoming professional careers.

Resources for Journalists

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Barbara Allen is the director of college programming for Poynter. Prior to that, she served as managing editor of She spent two decades in…
Barbara Allen

More News

Back to News