December 20, 2020

By god, you did it. It’s the Sunday before Christmas, and I’m praying that by now you’re done grading, critiquing and otherwise signing off of the messiest, hardest, most challenging collective semester we’ve ever faced.

Yet even as we pause to breathe and look at lights and nibble cookies and wrap presents, I’m reminded of what President Jed Bartlet of “The West Wing”* always asked: “What’s next?” Because I suspect that’s what you’re doing and so I urge you to consider how Poynter can be your assistant in the classroom.

We’ve got some pioneering new resources, some popular self-directed courses, asynchronous certificate courses and lots of other tools to dovetail with your lesson plans.

So take a look, and consider letting someone else lift at least part of your burden.

I’ll be back in January with a less Poynter-centric newsletter. But I don’t put my name on things that I don’t stand by. Most of what’s been created below has had my hand in it, harkening back to the time when I was doing the exact work you’re doing and hungry for help and resources.

I truly hope these help. But more importantly, I hope you are able to get some mental and physical rest this holiday season. You have earned it!

*If you’ve somehow missed the urging of your fellow humans to drop everything and watch “The West Wing,” you have another five days before it comes off Netflix at Christmas. With 156 episodes, you can still cram it in if you dedicate 31 hours a day to it between now and then. Which reminds me to remind you of our new Math for Journalists Certificate. See below!

Poynter for the Classroom — coming soon!

This is probably the thing I’m most excited about for you in 2021.

I was listening when you told me you wanted quick-hit material. Your need for grab-and-go content came in loud and clear. But most of all, I heard you when you told me: Help me get my students engaged. Roger that.

In January, Poynter will offer a new subscription service designed to help you engage students with relevant, timely communications case studies. Designed as classroom discussion materials, each of our case studies will come with specially crafted discussion questions, as well as a slideshow, learning outcomes and case background.

The service will start with a dozen pre-made, custom classroom discussion topics, and we’ll add at least one new classroom item per week, so you’ll always have something fresh and relevant to discuss. I’m really excited about this, so I’ll be sure to tell you more about this as it rolls out. Until then, here are two examples of the case studies we’ve built for you. Check them out and let me know what you think!

It’s finally here!

Our new Internship Database means Poynter can be the go-to place for students seeking internships. My goal is for this to one day be the nation’s nation’s premier collection of paid journalism and communications internships. Students can browse our listings and employers can add their own. It’s live now, so forward this email to your students who don’t have a job yet this summer and tell them to scroll down for this link.

Language, Math and News Literacy Certificate

Anyone need to assign 10-12 hours of asynchronous learning? And bonus — your students get a certificate at the end of it! This new certificate course is built from three popular courses, all of which have been tweaked and honed for maximum impact in spring 2021. It starts with our Language Primer, segues into Math for Journalists and ends with a fact-checking course built especially for young people. Valued at $89.95, this bundle will be offered in the spring of 2021 at a discounted rate of $64.95.

Newsroom Readiness Certificate

The first course I built for Poynter! Kind of. I cobbled together my favorite aspects of courses that we already offered and thought about what students really need before they start working in a newsroom, either in student media or an internship or first job. Let’s face it — there are some days in the classroom when the students aren’t all there. What if they missed an important lesson on libel, or missed the utilitarian thinking day in ethics? This five-hour, self-directed course fills in any gaps that might have across ethics, law, interviewing, news gathering and diversity so that employers can confidently hire students with this certificate.

The Language Primer Certificate

Our most popular primer is tough, and I should know: I just finished it. It was tough enough that we decided to make this course — previously just the Language Primer — available as a certificate. The Language Primer Certificate is $29.95 per student.

Math for Journalists Certificate

Yes, you need this course. Previously known as the Numeracy Primer, this new Math for Journalists Certificate is perfect for integration into your classroom. This is another course that’s been revamped and freshened up because there’s so much great information in here about things journalists truly need to understand about math and mathematical concepts. Never confuse percentage and percentage points again. The Math for Journalists Certificate is $29.95 per student.

MediaWise Fact-Checking 101

In this one hour fact-checking short course from Poynter’s MediaWise, your students will learn the basics of misinformation, how to quickly fact-check suspicious posts, and how to identify even the sneakiest of online ads. Valued at $49.95, this course will be offered in the spring of 2021 at a discounted rate of $29.95.

The MediaWise Fact-Checking Certificate

This hands-on, four-hour course will help your students suss out what’s legit everywhere they go on the internet. They’ll focus on verifying images and video, practice using dozens of digital tools for fact-checking and honing their critical thinking skills. Valued at $149.95, this bundle will be offered in the spring of 2021 at a discounted rate of $99.95.

Open Records Success: Strategies for Writing Requests and Overcoming Denials 

This course will make the process of requesting public documents easier by showing you precisely how to word your requests and how to overcome objections and denials from public agencies. With examples of real-world requests and their results, this course will inspire you to request information that has the power to change the way you report forever. And it’s free! (Suggested donation: $20)

Understanding Title IX — coming soon!

Going live Feb. 15, this course will introduce curious journalists to the world of Title IX — what it is, how universities rely on it and how to report on it. Designed with student journalists in mind, it will be a valuable tool for college media organizations and journalism professors alike to help students understand this complicated but critical component of university life. Free. (Suggested donation: $20)

The Write Lane

The beloved podcast from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lane DeGregory and her editor Maria Carrillo is coming back to Poynter. Searchable by topic and guest, the 150+ episodes of this podcast produced in partnership with the Tampa Bay Times has a loyal audience eager to hear how the pros pull it off. And it’s all free! (Suggested donation $10)

The Lead

Thank you for reading my newsletter! Now, may I suggest one for your students? The Lead is a weekly newsletter that provides resources and connections for student journalists in both college and high school. It is written by former Poynter fellow Taylor Blatchford and supported by the Poynter Institute. It features innovative work from student publications, dissects tricky issues relevant to students at all levels, and shares tools, internships and scholarships. Subscribe to get The Lead in your inbox each Wednesday.

One last thing

That’s my list! I hope you have a great holiday break and I look forward to working with you toward a successful spring semester.

Have a cocktail or mocktail, Zoom with the family, and give yourself a few days off before you ask, “What’s next?

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

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