The Poynter College Media Project

TEACHING DATE: Aug. 2020 — May 2021
LOCATION: Online seminars and in-newsroom workshop
COST: Free

The Poynter Institute, in partnership with the Koch Foundation, is thrilled to once again offer nine independent student media organizations the opportunity to train in a free year-long program that focuses on advancing student journalism.

Campus communities face an ongoing challenge: While they encourage students to engage with provocative ideas, they also strive to create an inclusive environment where all students feel welcome and safe. Student journalists want to serve their communities through traditional journalistic reporting, like fairly and responsibly covering protests, or investigating claims of sexual assault in their institutions. Often, they want to prove to their administration that they are worthy of respect and financing. Ethical guidelines and resources can help student journalists thrive.

With Poynter’s College Media Project, student media organizations will receive the support they need to elevate their journalism skills. This unique program of campus workshop visits and online coaching can help student media programs realize their potential to play a critical role as community facilitators in the marketplace of ideas. Student newsrooms selected for this challenge will engage in thoughtful training activities and provide active reflection and feedback to ensure the power and reach of the program on their campuses and beyond.

Apply today to be one of nine college student media organizations in Poynter’s accelerator program. If selected, your student media organization will receive:

  • $1,500 to spend on a reporting project or event that advances civil discourse on your campus.
  • In-person, Poynter-led workshops focused on accountability reporting, editing and storytelling for your entire staff.
  • Exclusive admission to a series of online training events throughout the academic year where you’ll hear from professionals, as well as from the other campuses about their experiences and projects.
  • Training on the best techniques for watchdog reporting that holds the powerful accountable and establishes your campus media as a fair and trusted advocate for students.
  • Insights into the tools of dialogue that model the search for mutual understanding and tolerance through reporting projects and real-life events.


Barbara Allen
Director of College Programming
The Poynter Institute

Elissa Yancey
A Picture’s Worth

Barbara Allen, Poynter’s director of college programming, is a former college media adviser and director with an award-winning history in local and collegiate reporting, will lead this year’s program.

She will be advised by Elissa Yancey, a lifelong storyteller, multimedia reporter, award-winning journalism educator and community builder who specializes in higher education and building strengths-based journalism practices.

What you will learn

In its pilot year, Poynter’s College Media Project supported the first-ever Blacktivism conference at Howard University; an expanded, impactful campus-wide debate at Virginia Tech; and an ongoing special project, “Voices of Iowa State.” The project also taught student journalists:

  • The best methods and tools to report on the big stories on campus, using smart interviewing skills as well as data and public records.
  • The best ways to report on topics and then fairly and accurately reflect knowledge.
  • Methods of using journalistic tools and practices to encourage civil public discourse, through campus media outlets, as well as other events and projects.

In Year 2, Poynter expanded the project to include nine student media organizations. Here are examples of the projects at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, University of Michigan and St. John’s University.


Participation in this project is free, thanks to the support of the Charles Koch Foundation. Per Poynter’s Ethics Policy, no funder plays a role in our program development, including our applicant selection process, curriculum development, webinar topics, leaders and participants’ projects.

Who should apply

This program is designed for student media organizations that are independent, where student editors make content decisions. We’re looking for staff who are willing to cover the stories that matter most to their campus audiences. If your campus has a history of courting controversy, where students speak out or demonstrate against people or policies they disagree with, tell us about an example of that in the last two years. However, that experience is not required to participate in this project.

We can only accept nine student media organizations for this innovative project, so we encourage you to apply by April 19, 2020. There is no application fee.

Application process

Applicants should be leaders within an independent student media organization at a two- or four-year American college or university. (Advisers, professors and administrators should not apply for their student media program — instead, encourage a student within the program to apply.)

Applications are due by Sunday, April 19, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern.

*All applicants will be notified of their application status by May 1.


Please email program coordinator Barbara Allen at

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