High School Journalism Program

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Applications Closed
TEACHING DATE: Monday-Friday, July 6-17
COST: $375

The High School Journalism Program is one of the longest-running programs at The Poynter Institute. Founded along with the Institute in 1975, its goal is to give young people the chance to learn about writing and develop a passion for the values and craft of journalism.

Formerly open only to high school students near our St. Petersburg, Florida campus, Poynter has completely redesigned its prestigious summer High School Journalism Program and made it available online to high school students nationwide. You can expect the same personalized, high-quality instruction from globally renowned Poynter faculty and award-winning media professionals, this year on a whole new scale.

We will specifically focus on the biggest news events of this generation: the dramatic changes we have all faced as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the upcoming U.S. presidential election. 

Accepted participants in the High School Journalism Program will:

  • Wrestle with journalism ethics
  • Discover secrets to good storytelling
  • Think critically about defining “the media”
  • Improve their understanding of disinformation, misinformation and reliability
  • Develop a more authentic voice in personal writing

In this expanded online-only program, Poynter puts a new spin on the traditional staple of the high school program: the personal essay. Now more than ever before, your experience and your voice is an important piece in understanding the impact of global lockdowns and changes in how education is delivered. Throughout the program, you will have the opportunity to access tools, tutorials and feedback that will guide you through the writing process — from finding an idea to the final edit — as you share your vision of a ‘new normal’ during the pandemic.

At the end of the two weeks, all students will have produced a personal narrative in an audio format and a video that fact-checks a hoax on their social media feed.


Additional instructors for 2020 will be announced closer to the program dates.

Sean Marcus
Publications Adviser
Carrollwood Day School

Eric Deggans
Author, TV/Media Critic

Angie Holan

Angie Holan

Ren LaForme
Managing Editor

Kathleen McGrory
Deputy Investigations Editor
Tampa Bay Times

Heaven Taylor-Wynn
Multimedia Reporter
MediaWise Project

Alexa Volland
Multimedia Reporter


Students will attend live video sessions for 90 minutes each weekday of the 10-day program (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern); sessions will be recorded and available for replay. Students should expect to work for an additional 90-120 minutes of activities and opportunities outside of the video lessons. In total, participants should be willing to dedicate 3-4 hours a day to participate.

Day 1: Welcome

An introduction to the program tools, schedule, process and participants

On your own: Writing process

Day 2: Defining “the media”

We hear people blame, praise and critique “the media” all the time. This live session will provide a clear and useful definition of “the media” and explain why it’s so vital to understand what that phrase really means.

On your own: Finding your voice

Day 3: Covering COVID-19, uncovering truth

Learn from a Tampa Bay Times reporter about the creative ways they’ve reported on the coronavirus crisis in Florida.

On your own: Narrowing focus/snapshot of a moment

Day 4: MediaWise fact-checking strategies

Learn from multimedia reporters leading Poynter’s MediaWise project about how they approach the fact-checking process and publish the truth in social-first video formats.

On your own: Writing for the ear

Day 5: Finding a fact(check)

During this fully interactive session, we will take a look at your sources of information, from news feeds to Tik-Toks, and learn how to examine everything just a little more closely and carefully. Assignment: Choose an item from your feed to fact-check.

On your own: Hot spots/stick the landing

Day 6: Keeping them honest on the campaign trail

Senior editors at the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact will discuss how fact-checking and accountability journalism serves democracy during an election. 

On your own: Editing your writing (and start scheduling one-on-one coaching time)

Day 7: 21st century tools for storytelling

Move beyond writing and filming stories and learn new tools to tell stories and communicate vital information. Led by Poynter’s Ren LaForme, you will leave this session with ready-to-use tools and tips.

On your own: Recording your voice

Day 8: Editing for clarity and correctness

As a vital process for holding the powerful accountable, fact-checking relies on honest, ethical reporting. Take a deep dive into what it really means to make sure you’ve got just the facts and see how editors ensure the quality of every fact check.

On your own: Adding images/bringing voice to life with b-roll

Day 9: New roles in new media roundtable discussion

Join professionals from a wide variety of media backgrounds as they answer your questions and discuss what it takes to seek and report truth in today’s world.

On your own: The final polish

Day 10: Graduation and sharing final products

Who should apply

Students who are in 8th through 12th grades who are interested in journalism, writing, photography or storytelling with video. This workshop is great for students who work in student media or are considering majoring in journalism, mass communications or integrated marketing communications. Class size is limited to allow for more personalized instruction.

The deadline to apply is Friday, June 26.

Application process

The application asks you to write a short essay, 50 to 100 words, telling us about your interest in this program and why you’d like to participate. This is the most important component of your application, so please spend some time on it. Tell us about your involvement (if any) in student media, your interest in journalism and storytelling and how you hope this workshop will help you.


Tuition for the two-week training is $375 per student.

Scholarships are available, including a limited number that will make the program tuition-free for selected participants.

Students applying for financial aid may request it in the online application as part of their “essay of interest.” Tell us whether you qualify for free or reduced school lunch and any special circumstances you want us to consider.

Technology requirements

You will need access to a smartphone, tablet or digital camera so you can take journalistic photos to share with the group. You will also need high-speed Internet access for a desktop computer, laptop or tablet. Minimum software requirements are specified below.


  • 1.4 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or faster processor (or equivalent)
  • Windows 10, 8.1 (32-bit/64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit/64-bit)
  • 512 MB of RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 or later, Windows Edge browser, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome

Mac OS

  • 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo or faster processor
  • 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • Mac OS X 10.11, 10.12 and 10.13
  • Browser: Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari or Google Chrome


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