Power Up: Leadership in Tough Times (Fall)

DEADLINE: Applications closed
TEACHING DATES: Tuesdays, Sept. 1-Oct. 6, 2020
COST: $300

Poynter prides itself as the place where managers go to grow their capacity as leaders and successfully serve their news organizations and communities. We remain committed to helping you rise to the challenges the coronavirus presents to your newsroom, despite travel restrictions, social distancing and lockdowns.

Power Up: Leadership in Tough Times leverages the full might of Poynter’s industry connections, decades of leadership training experience and pioneering e-learning platform to offer you the support you need right now. Over the course of six weeks, we will provide you a supportive online learning community, virtual one-on-one coaching and concrete leadership tips as you navigate the varied crises of 2020.

Each Tuesday, you’ll tune in for two consecutive hours of live instruction focused on themes specific to leadership during a crisis:

  • Leadership behaviors you need now
  • Communicating effectively in stressful times
  • Responding to conflict
  • Performance management (including coaching and giving feedback)
  • Building relationships with your diverse audience
  • Managing yourself (including self-care)

In each session, you will participate in an interactive and practical presentation from esteemed Poynter faculty, Butch Ward and Cheryl Carpenter. Then you’ll have a conversation with an industry leader who goes deeper on the themes. Through a moderated Q&A, you’ll get to talk to top media executives from Gannett, (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune, The New York Times, USA Today and WHYY.

In addition to the 12 hours of live instruction, you will receive a private, 45-minute coaching session with one of Poynter’s experienced coaches. This alone is usually worth $500. For a limited time, we are bundling the cost of one-on-one coaching with six weeks of group virtual instruction for $300.

Lead faculty

Cheryl Carpenter
Leadership Faculty
The Poynter Institute

Butch Ward

Butch Ward
Poynter Affiliate
The Poynter Institute


Sandra Clark
Vice President News and Civic Dialogue

Nicole Carroll
USA Today

Cari Hernandez
Content Discovery & Producing Lead
WUSA, Washington, D.C.

Mizell Stewart
Senior Director of Talent, Partnerships and News Strategy

Destinée-Charisse Royal
Senior Staff Editor in Graphics
The New York Times

Rene Sanchez
Editor and Senior Vice President
The (Minneapolis) Star Tribune

Poynter coaches

Participants will have the opportunity to schedule private, 45-minute coaching sessions with Cheryl Carpenter, Butch Ward or one of our other experienced coaches:

Samantha Ragland
The Poynter Institute

Al Tompkins, Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online

Al Tompkins
The Poynter Institute

Joie Chen
Northwestern University Medill School – Washington Programs


The six week series begins Sept. 1 and ends Oct. 6. Live instruction takes place Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern.

The schedule will be posted soon.

Who should apply

This virtual workshop is designed for frontline newsroom managers working to help their staff and audiences recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether you’re new to managing or a veteran in need of inspiration and practical advice, this seminar offers a timely and affordable guide to leading through this ongoing crisis.

To ensure active participation, we will limit this series to 40 participants.

If you’ve been accepted into a 2020 Poynter leadership program that has been postponed, we encourage you to apply to this program, too. The teaching material will be 100% unique and can serve as an expedient option to address your immediate needs until your in-person program can be rescheduled.

Poynter’s background in leadership training

The Poynter Institute has been training journalists in ethics and leadership for more than 40 years.

We’re known for our trademark leadership academies, weeklong seminars that emphasize introspection, strategies for managing people and network-building. In the last several years, Poynter designed academies for different stages of leadership and identities — new managers, women and people of color — to focus on challenges specific to those groups and advance newsroom diversity. These became some of Poynter’s most popular and competitive programs, offered multiple times per year and attracting innovative partners. Our leadership portfolio also includes the Local News Innovation Program, the Media Innovation Tour and custom leadership training in newsrooms.

Our long-term commitment to this work was formalized in 2019 under the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership at Poynter. Over the last year, we piloted new programs including:

  • Executive development programs for publishers through partnerships with SNPA and MPA
  • Custom leadership workshops in newsrooms including The Washington Post and Marketplace
  • An anti-harassment training program for managers in partnership with Press Forward

Cheryl Carpenter has served as Poynter’s leadership faculty since 2018, spearheading many of these initiatives. Butch Ward, the former leadership facutly at Poynter, continues to co-lead Poynter’s core leadership development programs.

The great majority of our leadership training has occurred in-person; this new virtual leadership series is an innovative way that we will connect with and coach newsroom leaders through this unprecedented time.

Application process

The process to apply is straightforward and simple. No letter of recommendation is required. Please be prepared to answer questions about your professional experience, areas of interests and basic demographic information.


The cost of this virtual workshop — which includes 12 hours of instruction and 45 minutes of private coaching — is $300.

Thanks to support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the Lumina Foundation, we are able to keep tuition low and offer scholarships. Please indicate in your application if you require financial aid.

After your application is accepted, you will be sent a unique link to pay for Power Up: Leadership in Tough Times. In some cases, you will also receive a scholarship or coupon code to apply at checkout. Please make sure that you use your personal login information during the checkout process so that you will have access to the online course material; if someone else will be supplying payment (your news organization, for example), please work directly with info@newsu.org to submit payment. 

Thanks to our sponsors:


We’d love to hear from you. Email us at info@newsu.org.