November 12, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Poynter Institute announced today a $35,000 grant from The Harnisch Foundation as the Institute prepares to observe its 35th anniversary next year. The grant is to launch an online curriculum for entrepreneurial journalists.

Ruth Ann Harnisch, a former journalist and president of the foundation, said: “Since the Institute’s founding, the business of journalism has changed in ways few could have imagined 35 years ago. Now, we’re marking this anniversary with a gift that recognizes the need for training to meet the demands of the vastly altered field.”

“We are grateful to the foundation for supporting our efforts and for providing a lead gift in commemoration of Poynter’s 35th anniversary year,” said Poynter President Karen Dunlap. “We see digital media entrepreneurship as the centerpiece of our online curriculum in 2010. The Harnisch Foundation is making it possible for us to launch into that future.”

The Harnisch Foundation previously supported the Institute with grants for scholarships and software to create “Studio H,” the base for Webinars and other interactive synchronous training through Poynter’s News University (

Howard Finberg, who leads NewsU, Poynter’s online training program, said the Harnisch grant would help create the first of a series of NewsU e-learning modules to serve an increasing number of entrepreneurial journalists and those creating technologies for traditional news media.

NewsU currently has more than 125,000 registered users, including 15 percent from outside the United States. “Our mission is to provide interactive, inexpensive courses that appeal to journalists, journalism students and anyone interested in media training,” Finberg said.

Harnisch spent three decades in media work, including Emmy-nominated television reporting and anchoring at the WTVF-TV (CBS) in Nashville, Tenn., a daily talk-radio program on WLAC-AM, and 17 years as a columnist for the Nashville Banner.

Now as a philanthropist, she works to open doors for others, particularly journalists. “Journalism is still a field ripe for the individual careerist, even in these times of great upheaval in the media business,” Harnisch says. “Anyone with talent, skill, and moxie can still create a career, and the new media opportunities of today offer endless possibilities for the person with drive, desire, and the willingness to learn the ‘bleeding-edge’ skills they need to compete today.”

Harnisch says she has never forgotten how it felt to be a journalist. She is a member of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, the Radio Television Digital News Association, American Women in Radio and Television, the Buffalo Broadcasters Association, and is a lifetime member of the Broadcasters Foundation.

In 1998, Harnisch founded The Harnisch Foundation (, which has since given grants to hundreds of not-for-profit organizations. She is a proponent of creative philanthropy. She encourages people to discover the thrill of giving money, time, skills, ideas and other assets to the causes they care about, and shares their stories on

About The Poynter Institute

Founded in 1975 in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Poynter Institute ( is one of the nation’s top schools for professional journalists, future journalists and journalism teachers. Poynter offers training throughout the year in the areas of online and multimedia, leadership and management, reporting, writing and editing, TV and radio, ethics and diversity, journalism education and visual journalism. Poynter’s News University ( offers training to journalists and journalism students through interactive e-learning modules and links to other journalism education and training opportunities.


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Jessica brings to the Institute more than 20 years of experience in journalism and public relations. She began her career in broadcasting, working on-air in…
Jessica Blais

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