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The Poynter College Media Project (2018-19)

August 31, 2018
Teaching Date
Sept. 2018-May 2019
Hybrid Online and In-Person

Applications are now closed for this program.

This free yearlong program offers nine independent student media organizations in-person workshops, online teaching and funding and planning support for a campus project geared toward achieving two goals: improving student journalism and modeling civil dialogue through news coverage and related events. 

In partnership with the Associated Collegiate Press, Poynter expanded this program since last year’s pilot with Iowa State University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Howard University — we are tripling the number of participants and offering a series of instructional webinars to all college media outlets for free.

Why? 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.

Selected participants receive:  

  • A small budget to spend on a reporting project or event that advances civil discourse on your campus 
  • Two half-day, in-person workshops about 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, a lifelong storyteller, multimedia reporter, award-winning educator and community builder who worked as a journalism professor at the University of Cincinnati, will return to lead year two of the program. She 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 

Below: Pictures from Poynter's pilot program with student journalists at Iowa State Daily, Collegiate Times and The Hilltop.


Who should apply

This program is designed for student media organizations that are independent, where student editors make content decisions. We’re looking for staffs 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 August 31, 2018. There is no application fee.



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. 


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