Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship

Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship

The year-long Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship is for early-career professionals who are aspiring future leaders in the industry.

Launch your career in journalism

As a finalist for the fellowship, you’ll have the opportunity to find placement as a paid, full-time journalist at a participating news outlet, joining colleagues who are passionate about journalism and the critical role of the free press in society. You’ll learn from each other, on the job, and from a robust, real-world curriculum presented by seasoned, professional journalists.

In-person and virtual

Fellows gather weekly to engage in robust coursework, such as media training and workshops and discussions about today’s most pressing journalistic issues. Three times during the year you’ll join the other fellows and faculty for additional workshops and activities in-person at multi-day summits in Washington, D.C., and St. Petersburg, Florida.

Our participants — up to 60 per fellowship class — come from all over the United States. The news organizations they work for range from metropolitan dailies to local market television stations to digital enterprises. Fellows contribute their many unique perspectives to an ongoing dialogue over the future of journalism.

See the participating organizations for 2019-2020 here.

Who, what, when, where and why? Read our FAQ here.

Just the Facts

Additional components of the program include individualized, personal mentoring from professional journalists, summits, and a group project competition.

  • Mentor Program

    The fellowship program works with participants to match them with a professional journalist mentor for the year. Mentors meet with each fellow at least twice a month either in person or by phone. Professional development and advancement are the intended focus, but the agenda is left up to the mentor-mentee pair.

  • Group Projects

    Once the fellows get to know each other, they organize themselves for the group project competition. Each group will report and produce a story that is published and/or broadcast at the organizations where they work. The fellows are encouraged to work across news organizations if they can. The goal is to stretch beyond the everyday assignments and to accomplish something with greater meaning and impact. Winners have ranged from a North Korea analysis to a historical exposé on the tap water at the White House.

  • Summits

    Three times during the year, fellows come together to learn from each other and from faculty face to face. Guests at summits have included Poynter’s top lecturers, the StoryCorps team, ethics experts, documentarians and filmmakers, and leading journalists. The June 2019 opening summit keynote speaker was CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Major Garrett at the National Press Club. Each summit focuses on journalism skills as well as discussion topics, such as small breakout sessions exploring case studies that represent thorny ethical issues. Fellows also have a chance to hone tactical skills including media and interview training. We also have some fun. Whether it’s attending a World Champion Washington Nationals baseball game, playing shuffleboard under the Florida sun, balancing super-size Jenga, or enjoying great Italian food, we make sure it’s not all work and no play.

Important Program Dates

Application OpensApplication DeadlineFellowship Class AnnouncedProgram Begins
November 20, 2019March 8, 2020May 29, 2020June 24, 2020

Why Poynter-Koch?

The authors of the First Amendment understood that a free and robust press is a crucial component in the system of checks and balances built into American society.

Journalists and storytellers discover and then report what is fact — and what is not. They shine light on inaccuracies and injustice, adopting a role as the ultimate stone kickers and skeptics. They inspire and educate with stories that explain, provoke, and expose the world around us. In doing so, the press builds a foundation of trust and mutual understanding that is essential for progress in all its forms.

The Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship’s curriculum is designed to address not only the hard skills of reporting and storytelling techniques but also the pillars of First Amendment law, foundations of a free press, and the core values that underpin public service journalism.

While bringing differing perspectives from varying roles and newsrooms, Poynter-Koch fellows share common ground: a commitment to the ideals and values of journalism. The power of the program comes not from the curriculum but from the diversity of fellows’ perspectives.

The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.

Ida B. Wells

Curriculum Snapshot

Following is a program outline used for the 2019-20 fellows. We expect to update topics and presenters to best serve the needs of the current class of fellows.

Opening Three-day Summit (June) – Washington, DC

Term 1 — Guiding Principles: Truth

Term 2 – The Journalists Legal Toolkit

Term 3 – Guiding Principles: Transparency

Term 4 – Having an Impact: Innovation in a Digital Age

Term 5 – Guiding Principles: Community

Midyear Summit (December) – St. Petersburg, Florida

Term 6 and Term 7 – Electives

Courses include: Podcasting, Investigative Journalism, Multiplatform Writing, Long-form Storytelling, Documentary, Analytics, Graphic Design, App Prototyping, Video Producing, Newsletter Writing, Media Training, Résumé Writing, Having Difficult Conversations.

Closing Summit (May) – Washington, DC

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

Thomas Jefferson

Meet your faculty

Throughout the year, you will learn from experienced faculty and adjunct faculty, expert guest speakers, and other fellows in your program. The lead faculty members for the 2019-20 program are:

Tim McCaughan, Senior Manager of Media Programs at the Charles Koch Institute

Tim McCaughan joined CKI following 25 years of experience in media. During two decades at CNN, McCaughan directed the White House unit as its Senior Supervising Producer, covering three U.S. Presidents and traveling to more than 40 countries and all 50 states. He was also Managing Editor of CNN.com’s top-performing vertical, the Political Ticker. He has been recognized with numerous national awards for his work.

Steve Bien-Aimé, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Northern Kentucky University

Bien-Aimé teaches journalism in the College of Informatics’ Department of Communication. His research interests include race and gender portrayals in sports and news media. Prior to receiving his doctorate from the College of Communications at Penn State, Bien-Aimé worked as a copy editor at The News Journal in Delaware and The Baltimore Sun and served in a variety of functions at FOXSports.com in Los Angeles, departing as deputy NFL editor.

Adjunct faculty members have included:

  • Kelly McBride, The Poynter Institute, Senior Vice President
  • Dan Lothian, Former NBC National Correspondent; Former CNN White House Correspondent; Little Park Media, Founder
  • Ashley Messenger, NPR, Senior Associate General Counsel
  • Rob Wallace, ABC News and CBS News, award-winning Producer and Senior Producer; Nxtact, Founder
  • Jamie McIntyre, Former CNN National Security Correspondent; Washington Examiner, National Security Reporter

Guest speakers have included:

  • Eric Schurenberg, Mansueto Ventures, CEO; INC., former President and Editor-in-Chief
  • Jason Riley, The Wall Street Journal, Columnist
  • Ren LaForme – The Poynter Institute
  • Al Tompkins – The Poynter Institute
  • David Bohrman – Founder, Political Voices Network
  • Nicholas Whitaker – Training and Development Manager, Google
  • Amanda Muñoz – Strategic Partner Development, Political Publishers, Facebook
  • Chris Temple, Documentary Filmmaker and Co-Founder of Living on One
  • Kmele Foster, Freethink, Partner and Lead Producer
  • Lily Wu, KAKE Wichita Crime Reporter
  • Gabriella Schwarz – Managing Editor, Flipboard
  • Nick Gelso – CLNS Media
  • Adam Sharp, Twitter.

Additional Resources

Educational programming students having a small group discussion.

Application Process

Click to begin a new application or to finish a previously started application.

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