Covering the Issues Image

Covering the Issues Ahead in Trump’s Second Year

September 11, 2017
Teaching Date
Oct. 26-28, 2017
Vanderbilt University, Nashville

In this free workshop, we will help journalists look beyond politics toward issues that are likely to affect nearly every community. We will equip you with knowledge and awareness to cover some of the most pressing issues that are likely to emerge in 2018.

The application deadline for this seminar has now passed. Please see all our training and events here.


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    Al Tompkins

    Senior Faculty, Broadcast and Online

    The Poynter Institute

The Affordable Health Care Act: Identify what is not working and what could be done to fix those problems.

Cyber Security: How susceptible and prepared are local, county and state governments to cyber attacks? What about the threat to the nation’s electrical grid and pipelines? What do journalists need to know about issues of private cyber security? How do cyber crimes affect business and finance?

Trade Agreements: It appears likely that there will be some changes to NAFTA. What would those changes mean to business, consumers and manufacturers big and small? What needs fixing? Who would benefit and who would be harmed?

Covering Hate Speech: The violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Va., put a new face on an old and growing problem -- hate. The white-versus-black hate groups have expanded their scope to “nationalism” and immigration. They are influential enough to have a footprint in U.S. politics. We will examine who the hate groups of 2018 are and how they are attempting to change their message to reach younger audiences through "cyber hate” messaging. You will also see how a large number of news organizations are working together to cover hate crimes.

The Local Effects of Climate Change: EPA says flooding is becoming more frequent along the U.S. coastline as sea level rises. Nearly every site measured has experienced an increase in coastal flooding since the 1950s. Farmers face changing growing seasons and power companies are logging more demand to cool hot buildings and less demand to warm normally cold ones. Pollen seasons are getting longer and the spread of health worries including Lyme disease and West Nile virus are linked to warming temperatures.

Who Should Apply: Full-time or full-time freelance journalists from all platforms (TV, radio, newspaper, magazine, online.) We want to include reporters and newsroom managers who make coverage decisions. We will look for a wide mix of market sizes, ownership groups and geography. We will seek a strong mixture of race, ethnicity, gender and experience. We know we will get a lot of applications so we will be selective to assure that those we do choose get a rich experience from a wide range of fellow participants.
We are focused on U.S. based journalists for this seminar. We are open to one or two university teachers who have a track record of using practical skill training in their teaching.
To TV applicants, we are well aware that the seminar is in the first few days of the November Nielsen ratings period. Do not apply if you cannot attend because of that. But it is our hope that your newsrooms can see that an investment in a few days of your being away from the newsroom is well worth losing you from the daily news mix for a few days.


Thanks to a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, tuition, basic travel expenses and hotel costs will be covered for those whose applications are accepted.

Participants must be committed to covering these issues in 2018. They'll work in teams to develop resources for other journalists covering these topics, as well.


Here is the proposed schedule and th experts teaching at this McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute:

THURSDAY, October 26


9:00-11:00 a.m. ~ Edward Alden, the Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, specializing in U.S. economic competitiveness

11:15-12:15 p.m. ~ Amos Smith, executive director of the Global Chamber is an international trade and economic development specialist


1:30-3:30 p.m. ~ Larry Levitt-Kaiser, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading authority on the Affordable Care Act

3:30-4:30 p.m. ~ Dr. Sayeh Nikpay, assistant professor in the department of health policy at Vanderbilt University, whose research focuses on the impact of health reform on labor market decisions of individuals and hospital finance

4:30-5:15 p.m. ~ Class Discussion

FRIDAY, October 27

Cyber Security

9:00-10:30 a.m. ~ Ed Rojas-Deloitte, a cyber security expert at Deloitte and 28-year veteran in the data networking and information security industry

10:30-12:00 p.m. ~ Jules White, assistant professor of computer science at Vanderbilt University, whose research focuses on securing, opti­mizing and leverag­ing data from mobile cyber-physical systems

12:30-1:15 p.m. ~ The Future of Universities in America ~ Vanderbilt University

Local Effects of Climate Change

1:30-3:30 p.m. ~ Dr. Amir Jina postdoctoral scholar at the Economics Department of University of Chicago and a Senior Fellow at the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago (EPIC)

3:30-4:30 p.m. ~ Dr. Janey Camp, a research associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Vanderbilt interested in risk management and transportation issues related to climate change

4:30-5:15 p.m. ~ Class Discussion

SATURDAY, October 28

9:00-10:30 a.m. ~ Rachel Glickhouse, a journalist on ProPublica's Documenting Hate project

     ~ Heidi Bierich, director of the Intelligence Project for the Southern Poverty Law Center ~ Joining us via Skype

10:45-12:00 p.m. ~ Sophie Bjork-James, a post-doctoral fellow in the Anthropology Department at Vanderbilt who has researched the contemporary white supremacist movement

12:00-2:00 p.m. ~ Lunch and Class Discussion - Work on Next Steps

2:00-2:30 p.m. ~ Graduation

2:30 p.m. ~ Adjourn


Vanderbilt University is excited to partner with Poynter on this project. Participants will attend sessions at the university’s First Amendment Center. In addition, many lectures will be led by Vanderbilt faculty that are world-class researchers and experts on the topics covered by this workshop.

Questions? Email us at


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