A Journalist’s Guide to Covering Jails and Police Reform

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A Journalist’s Guide to Covering Jails and Police Reform

This free online workshop series will help journalists more confidently cover America’s criminal justice system, from learning about COVID-19 inside jails to proposed changes in local policing.

Overview

  • Original broadcast: Jan. 12– Feb. 4, 2021. Replay available on demand.
  • Become a better informed, more thoughtful reporter covering hot-button justice issues in your community.
  • Go beyond covering daily spot news to dig deeper and write enterprise stories
  • Learn from experts on policing, incarceration, criminal justice, addiction, justice policy and journalism.
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Learning Outcomes

Original broadcast: Jan. 12– Feb, 2021. Replay available on demand.

Throughout the course, you will learn how to:

  • Prepare to cover significant legislative and local changes in policing
  • Grapple with the ethics issues of how journalists cover the accused and convicted
  • Deeply report stories about your local jail and COVID-19
  • Generate more story ideas based on new data and trends in local jails
  • Understand the effects of your reporting on formerly incarcerated people
  • Consider new and diverse sources for your reporting
Sale!

$0.00

Overview

  • Original broadcast: Jan. 12– Feb. 4, 2021. Replay available on demand.
  • Become a better informed, more thoughtful reporter covering hot-button justice issues in your community.
  • Go beyond covering daily spot news to dig deeper and write enterprise stories
  • Learn from experts on policing, incarceration, criminal justice, addiction, justice policy and journalism.

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

Original broadcast: Jan. 12– Feb. 4, 2021. Replay available on demand.

This workshop series is our virtual version of the effort Poynter began three years ago to help journalists cover jails and incarceration in the United States. With our funder, The MacArthur Foundation, and our partners at the Vera Institute of Justice and the Marshall Project, Poynter has reached more than 450 journalists in at least 45 states with practical and expert teaching on the gateway to the criminal justice system in the U.S.

We will offer eight sessions over four weeks that will help journalists cover local jails, which have become COVID-19 super-spreaders. Participants will prepare for significant legislative and local changes in policing, spurred by both politics and protests. Formerly incarcerated people will give participants insight into the effects of journalism on their life after lockup. And Poynter faculty will lead robust discussions around journalism ethics when it comes to how we cover the accused and convicted.

Here’s what some of our previous workshop participants had to say about their experience:

“This workshop gave insight on a side of our justice system that we cover, but rarely consider. It gave me a fresh perspective on what goes on behind bars, and how improving our jails can actually improve society.”

 

“Learning the data I believe was most important. With that knowledge, I can localize the national numbers and trends to my own coverage area.”

 

“I have written a lot of jail stories, but this workshop really demonstrated some other and better ways to hit on the bail/bond, jail population and other issues by using data and public records to identify the people it affects.”

Questions?

If you need assistance, email us at info@newsu.org.

Original broadcast: Jan. 12– Feb, 2021. Replay available on demand.

This workshop unfolds over four weeks, with live sessions each Tuesday and Thursday at noon (EST), beginning Jan. 12, 2021. All sessions will be 60 minutes long unless otherwise noted.

We do ask you to commit to attending all of the sessions when they are presented live. We will record the sessions, knowing that “news happens” but we hope you will treat this seminar series as a priority. Your questions, comments and ideas enrich our teaching.

Week 1

  • Jan. 12: Liz Swavola will explain incarceration trends, like who’s in jail and why (90 minutes).
  • Jan. 14: Jamiles Lartey will help you probe the reforms that President-Elect Biden promised during the presidential campaign, exploring what change is possible during the next administration.

Week 2

  • Jan. 19: Dr. Lipi Roy will teach you about addiction in jail and prison (90 minutes).
  • Jan. 21: Ronald Simpson-Bey will help you develop more empathy and awareness by understanding news coverage from the view of a person subjected to it. Kelly McBride will explain why journalists must become less reliant on police to supply the “facts.” As the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor cases illustrate, police reports often tell a skewed version of incidents.

Week 3

  • Jan. 26: Joseph Neff will help you develop a more nuanced understanding of COVID-19 in jails and prisons.
  • Jan. 28: Chuck Wexler will give you insight about what reforms police want and will reject.

Week 4

  • Feb. 2: Wanda Bertram will get you thinking about your community with 10 story ideas on police and incarceration reform.
  • Feb. 4: Christina Melton Crain will teach you why hiring a formerly incarcerated person is critically important and so difficult.

Cost

Tuition is free for selected applicants, thanks to The MacArthur Foundation. This four-week, eight-session virtual workshop has a value of $450.

Instructors

Lead Faculty

  • Al Tompkins, Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online
    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...
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Guest Faculty

  • Wanda Bertram
    Communications Strategist, Prison Policy Initiative
    Wanda Bertram is Prison Policy Initiative's Communications Strategist. Wanda is a graduate of the University of Washington, where her focus on national security sparked her...
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  • Jamiles Lartey
    Staff Writer, The Marshall Project
    Jamiles Lartey is a New Orleans-based staff writer for The Marshall Project. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Guardian covering issues of criminal...
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  • Kelly McBride
    Senior Vice President and Chair of Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership
    Kelly McBride is a writer, teacher and one of the country’s leading voices when it comes to media ethics. She has been on the faculty...
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  • Christina Melton-Crain
    Founder and President/CEO of Unlocking DOORS®
    Christina Melton Crain, Esq.  is the Founder and President/CEO of Unlocking DOORS®, an innovative Dallas-based reentry organization providing a road to success for countless men...
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  • Joseph Neff
    Investigative Reporter, The Marshall Project
    Joseph Neff is an investigative reporter at The Marshall Project.  Neff worked at The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., and The Associated Press. He...
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  • Dr. Lipi Roy
    Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine Physician
    Dr. Lipi Roy currently serves as the Medical Director of COVID Isolation and Quarantine Sites for Housing Works in New York City. As the former...
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  • Ronald Simpson-Bey
    Director of Outreach & Alumni Engagement for Just Leadership USA
    Ronald D. Simpson-Bey works as the Director of Outreach & Alumni Engagement for Just Leadership USA. He is a national decarceration leader committed to cutting...
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  • Elizabeth Swavola
    Project Director, Jail Decarceration, Vera Institute
    Liz is a project director of Vera’s jail decarceration efforts. She provides technical assistance and training to local jurisdictions seeking to implement data-driven criminal justice...
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  • Chuck Wexler
    Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum
    Chuck Wexler is Executive Director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF),  an organization of law enforcement officials and others dedicated to improving the professionalism...
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  • Peter Eisler
    Washington-based reporter for Reuters
    Peter Eisler is a Washington-based reporter for Reuters, where he specializes in investigative projects on U.S. national affairs. His work has helped spur major changes...
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