TV Power Reporting Academy


Start Anytime

TV Power Reporting Academy

In this hybrid online and in-person seminar, MMJ/VJ reporters will get individual feedback on their work to elevate their career in broadcast. Thanks to generous support from CNN, 50 percent tuition scholarships are available to members of NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA.



Training five or more people?
Check out our custom training.

Teaching dates

Sept. 6 – Oct. 18

In-person at Poynter: Sept. 27-29

Live video sessions

Tuesdays, 12-1 p.m. Eastern: Sept. 10, Sept. 17, Oct. 1, Oct. 8

If you’re unable to attend a live session, there will be a recording available.

Some of the biggest names in local and network television journalism are graduates from our TV Power Reporting Academy. Our alumni include John Larson, Boyd Huppert, Byron Pitts, Katie Couric, Stuart Watson, Byron Harris and Roberta Baskin. Now, it’s your turn to gain the skills, strategy and confidence to elevate your career in broadcast.

We keep things practical, usable and affordable.

Program details

Power Reporting is one of Poynter’s signature seminars, and our 2019 academy will once again be led by senior faculty for broadcast and online, Al Tompkins. For more than 25 years, TV reporters, photojournalists, visual journalists and multimedia journalists have relied on Poynter to build their reporting, writing and ethical decision-making skills.

During this hybrid online and in-person training, you will get individual feedback on your work, hone your critical thinking and learn to find the stories that others miss. When you’re done, you’ll have a toolkit full of practical skills and a roadmap to move your career ahead. Here’s what one attendee said:

“I think that my attending this workshop will help my newsroom as a whole. For one thing, it gives me a bit more gravitas. Everyone was eager to hear what I’d learned, and when I suggested to my boss a different way of handling a story (by trying to find people affected by the issue instead of just getting a quote from an official), he agreed, even though it will take longer. So, WIN!”

For 17 years, The Poynter Institute’s Al Tompkins has led this seminar that is a bedrock for Poynter teaching. You will get feedback on your work, will sharpen your writing and storytelling skills, learn how to enterprise stories and look beyond the obvious, tired ways of covering daily news. Of course, Poynter focuses on ethical decision-making skills and adding diverse voices to stories.

Tuition and scholarships

The cost is $499, which includes tuition for the four-week online group seminar and in-person training at Poynter. Travel to and from St. Petersburg and your hotel is on your own, but we have arranged for discounted hotel accommodations.

Thanks to generous support from CNN, members of NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA and NAJA may apply for 50 percent tuition scholarship. If you are a member of one of these associations, please email to receive your scholarship code.

What will I learn

  • How to write clearer, stronger stories—finding your focus, building to big surprises and more
  • What every reporter needs to know about lighting, motion, sequences, action/reaction and cameras
  • How to be a story idea machine and how you can never be without a pitch
  • How to get beyond announcements, fake claims and spins
  • The Tough Calls Toolbox: Practical ethics when you are tight on time
  • How to include new voices and see new parts of your community that are seldom covered
  • How you can grow in your newsroom and organization and create a roadmap to move your career ahead

Who should take this course:

TV reporters and VJ/MMJ/backpack journalists for television, as well as college educators and international journalists. This seminar also is perfect for photojournalists who want to learn to write and report.

Application process

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


Al Tompkins, Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online

Al Tompkins is The Poynter Institute’s senior faculty for broadcasting and online. He has taught thousands of journalists, journalism students and educators in newsrooms around the world. His teaching focused on writing, reporting, storytelling, ethics, critical thinking, photojournalism, social media and online journalism.

Tompkins has taught television news producers, reporters, photojournalists and managers in his workshops in 49 states, Canada, Egypt, Ecuador, Denmark, Cayman, Iceland and South Africa. He has taught and coached print newsrooms in the U.S. and abroad how to build interactive news websites, how to use video more effectively online and how to manage ethical issues that arise online.

Brendan Keefe is the chief investigative reporter for The 11Alive Investigators in Atlanta, Georgia.

Brendan leads The Investigators, but he works primarily alone as his own photographer, researcher, producer, and video editor. TEGNA Media tapped Brendan as its lead multi-skilled journalist, training MSJs at the company’s 48 television stations. He is also on the visiting faculty of Poynter Institute where he teaches Power Reporting.

Ramon Escobar is the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for CNN Worldwide. In addition to his role with the Diversity Council, Escobar oversees the recruitment and development of on-air talent as Vice President of Talent Recruitment and Development. He will be based in New York.

A media veteran with 25 years of experience in news and entertainment in local, cable and network television as well as digital/new media, Escobar has the unique perspective of having worked in both English and Spanish-language media. Has developed expertise in both the U.S. Hispanic market and Latin America having traveled extensively throughout Latin America working with international media companies around the globe. Escobar came to CNN from Telemundo where he was the head of the news division. Prior to his time at Telemundo, Escobar was Vice President of Consulting at Sucherman Group where he worked closely with a cross-section of news and entertainment networks on programming, news and digital media strategy.

Kelly Frank is director of content for CBS affiliate, WTSP in Tampa, Fla. She oversees content across all platforms for the newsroom in the 13th market in the country. Prior to assuming this role in June, Frank spent nearly three years as the director of news and digital content for the CBS affiliate, WBNS in Columbus, Ohio. She previously worked as executive producer, U.S. operations for CNN where she supervised several show teams over four-plus years, working with Kyra Phillips, Ali Velshi, Tony Harris, Randi Kaye and Ashleigh Banfield. While at CNN, Frank oversaw special coverage for hurricanes, politics, the Japan earthquake/tsunami and the Gulf oil spill, producing shows with Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, Christiane Amanpour and Soledad O’Brien. She was part of the team that took home three Peabody Awards for coverage of the 2008 election, the 2010 Gulf oil spill and coverage of the Arab Spring. Before working at CNN, Frank was an executive producer in Washington, D.C. for Fox-owned WTTG, overseeing morning news and then evening news. She moved to the nation’s capital after spending six years as an executive producer and producer for NBC affiliates in Phoenix, Milwaukee and Columbus, Ohio.

John Hoffman is the vice president and news director of WTVT FOX 13 in Tampa. He started in 1987 as a producer at WTVT and was later promoted to senior producer, managing editor and assistant news director. He graduated from the University of the South Florida, with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism.


Below is a tentative schedule for the 2019 program. Sessions and instructors are subject to change.

Week One: (Sept. 10, live class at noon ET)

  • Finding the lead and focus of your story
  • Story shapes; What goes first, and why
  • Building to the big surprises
  • How breaking news writing is different

Week Two: (Sept. 17, live class at noon ET)

  • The eight BIG motivators to make every story more interesting
  • Building memorable characters
  • How to write in active voice every time (and why it matters to your journalism)
  • How to avoid clichés and muddy modifiers
  • Capturing sound bites that sing
  • The importance of natural sound

Week Three at Poynter, St. Petersburg, Florida: (Sept. 27-29, 2019)

  • What every MMJ/VJ reporter needs to know about photojournalism, lighting, motion, sequences, action/reaction and your camera
  • How to be a Story Idea Machine (never be without a pitch)
  • How to “Think Critically” and get beyond announcements, fake claims and spins
  • The Tough Calls Toolbox: practical ethics when you are tight on time
  • How to use FOIA laws and public databases to find stories others miss
  • How to be a mobile and social media superstar and drive viewers to your stories
  • How to talk with kids, crime victims and other vulnerable people
  • 30 Minutes of Fame: In-person focused feedback on your work including on-camera performance as well as journalism and storytelling content
  • Amazingly cool online tools and apps (learn to capture 360-degree interactive photos, build edited videos on your phone, produce animated gifs on your phone and more. Every tool is free and takes less than two minutes to use.)
  • How to be a social media superstar
  • How to effectively move your TV reporting to online

Week Four: (Oct. 1, live class at noon ET)

  • In this TWO-hour session, we will focus on Stand-ups and Teases. You will submit examples of stand-ups and teases and the seminar group will offer feedback on your work.

Week Five: (Oct. 8, live class at noon ET)

  • Your road ahead: you will interview your bosses to get insight on how you can grow in your newsroom and organization.
  • You will draft a plan of action to move your career ahead. We will be right there with you.

About online group seminars

In an online group seminar, you will gather with other participants in a virtual space, logging in from anywhere, day or night, over the course of several weeks. A faculty member guides the group through new material, moderates discussions and provides individual feedback.


We’d love to hear from you. Email us at