July 6, 2021

We’re searching for the next editor and writer to host The Cohort. But who exactly is “we”?

For any job posting or freelance contract, there’s always someone who sifts through applications, screens and advances promising candidates, interviews finalists and makes the ultimate decision. In an article about how everyone should influence recruitment, hiring and retention, my colleagues Samantha Ragland and Doris Truong advocated that this “someone” should really be a group of people, and that group should be made transparent:

Involving teams in the hiring process is a great way to develop internal skills and to bring a diversity of perspectives to whether the candidate is a good fit. Team members will likely elicit different responses from a candidate than a hiring manager might, and they can provide helpful context about the work environment.

Just be sure that every candidate for each opening talks with the same mix of people so you have the same baseline for comparison. Also take the time to interrogate whether what makes someone a good fit is their similarity to the existing team, or whether this candidate brings different life experiences and perspectives that will enrich your work.

You can hear more from Sam and Doris about DEI in recruiting and hiring at their SRCCON 2020 talk.

In the spirit of transparency — and to help all of you who are considering the opportunity to host The Cohort — we’d like to introduce the three key people who are reviewing writing samples and letters of interest and who will conduct interviews for this contract:



Position at Poynter: Poynter has been my professional home since 2018. My new(ish) title is senior product specialist, and I focus on elevating Poynter’s newsletters and training events. This is a role I created because I loved bridging the gaps between teams at Poynter. But it’s the first product-anything at Poynter, which means I’m still figuring it out.

Relation to The Cohort: I am the outgoing writer and editor. This newsletter was founded in 2016 by Katie Hawkins-Gaar. She imbued the newsletter with such vulnerability and honesty that transformational conversations regularly took place. Rachel Schallom wrote the newsletter in 2018, and she brought a fresh practicality to The Cohort, making it feel like a true roadmap. When Rachel decided to pursue other things, I was worried The Cohort — a newsletter I relied on and learned from and had long admired — would end. Though I had totally different qualifications than Katie and Rachel, I raised my hand. My mission since 2019 has been to share more diverse viewpoints, broaden the definition of “leader” and challenge the status quo. I will work with the new host to produce this newsletter in MailChimp and make the product sustainable.

Ideal host: Someone who has a different lived experience than Katie, Rachel or me and who will infuse new energy into the community. I fostered The Cohort for more than two years, and I hope the next caretaker will love it just as much as I did. I look forward to interviewing people who have passion for the project and a vision to move it in a new direction as the nature of work itself transforms. Bonus points for people who can demonstrate how they engage online communities! I would love to learn from you.



Position at Poynter: In March 2020, right when America started to wake up to COVID-19, I took over as managing editor at Poynter. It was an interesting year to sort out how to run the gig and how to best serve journalism and democracy. I’m closing in on 10 years here, which weirdly makes me one of the more institutional folks at the institute. I started as a fellow with our online learning team at the tail end of grad school and joined the team full time after a year. Later, I flipped to our editorial team to write about journalism and technology.

Relation to The Cohort: I’m a sounding board and editor for The Cohort. I was here to watch as the newsletter took shape under Katie — a friend and colleague whose presence I miss every day — and her mission of bringing the energy of Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Media to the whole world. It’s been a pleasure to watch it grow under Rachel and Mel, and I’m excited to work with the new host to see how that vision expands again.

Ideal host: I subscribe to the Ms. Frizzle approach to life: Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy. I’d like to work with someone who embraces that. Someone who can look at the landscape for women in media and tell it like it is and provide a vision for how it should be. Someone who isn’t afraid to call out the systemic problems at the highest levels of journalism. And someone who challenges me and holds us accountable for that vision, too.



Position at Poynter: I joined the Poynter fam as faculty in early March 2020 — at the start of stay-at-home ordinances in Florida. In addition to directing Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women, my portfolio includes co-directing our yearlong early-career fellowship program. My teaching on leadership, collaboration, imposter syndrome and digital strategy (to name a few) ranges in delivery from 1:1 and small group coaching to custom seminars for organizations across the country.

Relation to The Cohort: When I graduated from the Women’s Leadership Academy in 2016, The Cohort newsletter didn’t exist yet. But Katie’s goal of sharing the learnings from the exclusive academy experience came to fruition with its launch. I’ve been a fan and reader since, championing the writers and their columns as they give women in media permission to be their whole selves at work.

Ideal host: I’ll be a cheerleader, conspirator and brainstormer for The Cohort’s new host, so I’m looking for someone who brings equal parts curiosity and creativity to this product. If you’re a natural collaborator and conversationalist, then I want you to apply. If you have a passion for digital strategy, for audience nuance and expectation and for keeping the company of disruptors, then I want you to apply. If you believe your lived experience as a woman, journalist and leader was put before you so you could, one day, share it for the growth and benefit of others, then I want you to apply. Finally, if you know you are imperfect, if you are self-aware-enough to know that you don’t have to have all the answers — or even all of the questions — then I want you to apply. Please. Apply.

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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…
Mel Grau

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