The Poynter College Media Project

DEADLINE: April 30, 2020
TEACHING DATE: Sept. 2020 — May 2021
LOCATION: Online seminars and in-newsroom workshop
COST: Free

Campus communities face an ongoing challenge: While they encourage students to engage with provocative ideas, they strive to create an inclusive environment where all students feel welcome and safe. Student journalists want to cover protests fairly and responsibly, investigate claims of sexual assault in their institutions, and prove to their administration that they are worthy of respect and financing. They need ethical guidelines and resources to thrive.

With Poynter’s College Media Project, student media organizations will receive the support they need to elevate their journalism skills and realize their potential to play a critical role as community facilitators in the marketplace of ideas. In return, they will be required to engage in all training activities and provide both active reflection and feedback to ensure the power and reach of the program on their campuses and beyond.

This free program offers nine independent student media organizations in-newsroom workshops and private online seminars, as well as funding and coaching support, for a campus project geared toward achieving two goals: improving student journalism and modeling civil dialogue through news coverage and related events.

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
  • Two half-day, in-person 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


Elissa Yancey
Adjunct Faculty
The Poynter Institute

Fara Warner
Adjunct Faculty
The Poynter Institute

Elissa Yancey, a lifelong storyteller, multimedia reporter, award-winning journalism educator and community builder who specializes in higher ed and building strengths-based journalism practices, will return to lead year three of the program.

Yancey will be joined by co-leader Fara Warner, a New York-based, award-winning journalist, author, speaker and educator who brings three decades of experience leading teams and projects ranging from traditional print to virtual reality films for publications including The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek/The Daily Beast and Fast Company.

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 your 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 what you know
  • Methods of using journalistic tools and practices to encourage civil public discourse, through your media outlet, as well as other events or 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 30, 2020. There is no application fee.

Application process



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