Grantee Spotlight: The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute - Specialized Reporting InstitutesWho they are: The Poynter Institute has a long history of ensuring communities have access to quality journalism. Journalists, teachers and community members have come to Poynter for trainings for more than 30 years. Poynter began to administer McCormick’s Specialized Reporting Institutes in 2009. Under this program, Poynter provides grants of up to $50,000 to host institutions chosen on a competitive basis to organize intensive training on timely, issues for journalists.
What they do: SRIs are designed to provide journalists with subject-specific expertise and practical reporting training in key issues. (Here are previous SRI topics, hosts and locations.) SRIs tap into the expertise of host organizations that plan and carry out an intensive training program. The event convenes a diverse group of journalists, often from small to mid-sized news organizations, plus educators, for a program lasting two to three days. Participants represent all media platforms, and grant funds cover all or most of participants’ travel, lodging and tuition. There are typically six SRIs per year.
Why it matters: Due to training budget cutbacks in newsrooms, the SRIs play an important role in ensuring that working journalists get the professional development they need to provide quality coverage on crucial issues. The SRIs also fill a demand for technology and computer-assisted reporting training needed for journalists to stay ahead of the curve. 
What they’re doing about it: These workshops provide participants the opportunity to identify key sources and resources on a topic of local, regional, national or international interest and develop story ideas.  They also enable reporters to meet like-minded colleagues for tips and support, during the training and beyond.
Current Projects: The 2011 SRI program includes seminars on the following topics:
  • The effects of the economic crisis on families
  • Track the impact of stimulus funds on communities
  • Reporting the census
  • Covering the crisis in funding public pensions
  • Political polling
  • Islam in the Bible Belt
Impact: More than 350 journalists have been trained through this program. 90% of the participants from Poynter’s summer 2010 seminars say they shared new approaches and ideas with colleagues.  26% of participants said they applied what they learned at the seminar to their work every day, and 48% said they applied what they learned once a week.
Learn More: For a complete list of 2011 SRIs and resources, visit Poynter’s News University Journalism and Training Resource page, click here.
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