What Professional Journalists Can Learn from the Poynter College Media Project

This post is an adaptation of my presentation at the NABJ Region II Spring 2019 Conference in Cincinnati, OH. Shout out to Charisse Gibson for the invite!

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Staff of The Daily Aztec, independent student media at San Diego State University, fall 2019 (Elissa Yancey)

For the past two years, I’ve spent a lot of time on college campuses around the country. I’ve skipped the glitzy tours of five-star gyms and luxury dorms and headed straight to the spaces I felt most at home as an undergraduate: the offices of independent student media.

These are mostly windowless rooms. They are typically messy and often noisy. They are also where the next generation of journalists are learning, growing and…


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Gladys Yancey (aka my Mom)

My Mom taught me to read early. As the youngest of six, I was tossed into the deep end of a family of readers. I would gleefully spend hours with my Dr. Seuss and yes, Dick and Jane, books long before I started Kindergarten. Our house was filled with hardbacks and paperbacks, magazines and newspapers (two a day!).

We had stacks of books that spilled from bookshelves onto end tables, books in our dining room and, of course, books in our bedrooms. When I was in elementary school, summers meant weekly trips to Kmart with my Mom, and, if she…


When my Mom had to enter a rehabilitation facility for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t understand that the rehab facilities she was referred to doubled as what I had considered nursing homes. I didn’t understand the time limits that would be enforced based on her recovery and “performance.” In short, I was completely unprepared.

I wish I had known Molly Gadd then. Gadd serves as the only nurse practitioner at a long-term care and rehabilitation facility in Northern Kentucky that houses a maximum of 140 patients at a time. …


College Journalists Focus on Adding Intention to Media Narratives

It’s more than a project. It’s a revolution. So says Alexis Wray, editor-in-chief of The A&T Register, the independent student news organization of the country’s largest HBCU (Historically Black College and University), North Carolina A&T.

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Zila Sanchez (left) and Alexis Wray (right), editors at The A&T Register, share lessons they have already learned about The Black Narrative in Greensboro, NC at the North Carolina College Media Association 2019 conference on Feb. 23, 2019.

As she described the Black Narrative — the initiative she and her staff are creating as part of Poynter’s College Media Project this school year — Wray’s soft voice grew stronger. Her message clearly resonated with dozens of her college media peers at the state’s largest-ever North Carolina College Media Association Conference on Feb. 23, 2019. …


It’s just beyond the half-way point in the second year of the Poynter College Media Project. Our mid-year review shows that the nine student media operations selected from more than 60 applicants to receive intensive training, support and $3,000 to support community-focused campus reporting projects illustrate the power — and challenges — of taking on projects that tackle deep and divisive topics in a nonstop news world.

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Students at Bowdoin’s independent publication The Orient plan their project focusing on The Uncommon Good, which examines how the college’s policies impact members of their community. (Photo by Elissa Yancey)

During our in-person training sessions last fall, staff at The Daily Utah Chronicle (University of Utah) acknowledged the importance of a campus issue they often discussed — an issue of culture and philosophy…


Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine
Stop four of the Poynter College Media Project 2018–2019

In 2018–2019, the Poynter College Media Project builds on the success of its pilot year, which consisted of conducting year-long training and project development work with college media outlets at three universities (Howard University, Virginia Tech and Iowa State University). Year Two has expanded to include nine colleges and universities across the country, selected from a competitive pool of more than 60 applicants. Led by pilot designer and instructor Elissa Yancey, MSEd, year two of Poynter CMP adds co-lead teacher Fara Warner, MA, to the team.

This is the fourth in a series of posts that offer insights and reflections…


University of North Carolina A&T

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Student journalists from The A&T Register with Poynter College Media Project leaders Elissa Yancey and Fara Warner.

Stop Two for the Poynter College Media Project Training 2018–2019

In 2018–2019, the Poynter College Media Project builds on the success of its pilot year, which consisted of conducting year-long training and project development work with college media outlets at three universities (Howard University, Virginia Tech and Iowa State University). Year Two has expanded to include nine colleges and universities across the country, selected from a competitive pool of more than 60 applicants. …


University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

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Stop One for the Poynter College Media Project Training 2018–2019

In 2018–2019, the Poynter College Media Project builds on the success of its pilot year, which consisted of conducting year-long training and project development work with college media outlets at three universities (Howard University, Virginia Tech and Iowa State University). Year Two has expanded to include nine colleges and universities across the country, selected from a competitive pool of more than 60 applicants. …


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Howard University students participating in the Poynter College Media Project pilot take a moment after two days of training for an impromptu group boomerang pose.

The Poynter College Media Project training at Howard University in Washington, D.C., began as campus classes sometimes do: with a leaky ceiling and a change of plans.

For background on Poynter’s College Media Project, read this.

The original room reserved for the Friday afternoon and Saturday morning deep-dive into accountability journalism and civil discourse development was spacious, tech-ready and easily accessible. It was also in a residence hall where a second-floor shower had sprung a leak.

Campus project leader and The Hilltop newspaper editor-in-chief Jazmin Goodwin was already working the phones. She graciously guided co-facilitator Bob Stains and me to…


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Rally at Inner Harbor in Baltimore MD, 10 November 2016. Elvert Barnes Protest Photography used here with Creative Commons license.

Next week I begin a year-long journey in spaces that are both comfortably familiar and completely foreign to me: college campuses. I decided to write this piece, and subsequent pieces, as part of a series about this journey because walking onto campuses to help lead a new journalism initiative at this time of year, and particularly at this time in our country, feels in turns exhilarating, important and daunting.

I’ve spent the better part of my career as a journalist as an educator — formally at universities and conferences and informally as an editor, coach and mentor. …

elissayancey

Author, journalist, educator, community builder. Author, Day By Day; co-founder, A Picture’s Worth; teacher, The Poynter Institute. Cincinnati, Ohio.

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