The Power of Diverse Voices: The Poynter Minority Writers Workshop

LOCATION: The Poynter Institute
COST: Free for selected applicants

The Power of Diverse Voices, taking place Nov. 7-10, 2019 at Poynter’s campus in St. Petersburg, Florida, is a transformative four-day seminar that helps journalists of color find their voice and build skills for writing opinion pieces and personal essays.

Opinion writing plays a vital role in explanatory, features and watchdog journalism, and is important in a thriving democracy. This seminar will foster the diversity of voices necessary in the profession and train the next generation of opinion writers from a wide spectrum of backgrounds.

You will learn both through instruction as well as through intensive coaching in small writing groups. You will focus on fact-based opinion writing — and using social media to spark a conversation — across digital and other platforms.

More than 90 percent of previous participants rated their experience as “exceptional,” with some participants calling the seminar “healing,” “validating,” and “both tactical and inspiring.”

Apply now to be a part of the Poynter Minority Writers Workshop community and give power to your voice.


Tom Huang
Assistant Managing Editor for Features and Community Engagement; Editing Fellow
The Dallas Morning News; The Poynter Institute

Roy Peter Clark
Senior Scholar
The Poynter Institute

Eric Deggans
TV Critic

Joy Mayer

Joy Mayer
Audience Engagement Strategist
Adjunct Faculty, Poynter and the University of Florida

Aisha Sultan
Home and Family editor and columnist
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Keith Woods
Vice President of Newsroom Training and Diversity

You’ll learn how to:

  • Develop and hone your arguments, presenting these arguments effectively and persuasively
  • Support your arguments using solid research and reporting
  • Strengthen your reporting skills with an emphasis on fairness and accuracy
  • Maximize your journalistic success on digital and social media platforms — using social media to build your brand, present your ideas and spark a conversation
  • Generate strong ideas for your opinion pieces, broadening your access to diverse points of view
  • Focus your ideas, developing a compelling pitch to editors

When asked what was the biggest lesson from the 2017 workshop, participants responded:

“I learned to be comfortable with my own voice and writing in the first person. This was one of my biggest challenges before doing the workshop. Now, I feel more confident.”

“There are other people like me who believe in this type of writing and who write about these issues. I have a tribe.”

“My voice matters, and it’s important to have journalists of colour in the business to help keep the media accountable and right.”


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

6:00 p.m. — Reception and dinner
7:00 p.m. — Welcome and “The Real Me” introductions
7:30 p.m. — Opinion writing in the digital age

8:30 a.m. — The keys to effective opinion writing
10:00 p.m. — Break
10:15 p.m. — The power of social media
11:45 p.m. — Group photo and lunch
1:00 p.m. — How to spark and develop fresh ideas
2:30 p.m. — Break
2:45 p.m. — Writing and coaching sessions
4:00 p.m. — Small group critiques

8:30 a.m. — Writing the personal essay
10:00 a.m. — Break
10:15 a.m. — Writing for audio
11:45 a.m. — Lunch
12:45 p.m. — What is my opinion piece really about?
2:15 p.m. — Break
2:30 p.m. — Writing and coaching sessions
4:00 p.m. — Small group critiques

8:30 a.m. — Final readings
12:30 p.m. — Graduation and farewells

Who should apply

Enrollment is open to new- and mid-career journalists of color based in the United States looking to add effective opinion writing to their tool kit, as well as those building a career path toward opinion journalism. Minority journalism students, journalism educators, freelancers and opinion journalists who work online or in social media are also encouraged to apply.

The Power of Diverse Voices workshop grew out of the Minority Writers Seminar, a collaboration between the Association of Opinion Journalists and The Poynter Institute. The original seminar ran for nearly two decades at the John Seigenthaler Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

Application process

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


This seminar is being offered at no charge to selected participants based in the United States. The program sponsors will cover tuition and hotel costs, and a small travel stipend will be available. Slots are limited.


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