Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship

Launch your Career in Journalism

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

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 at multi-day summits.

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.

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 Opens November 1, 2020
Application Closes March 8, 2021
Fellowship Class Announced June 1, 2021
Program Begins June 16, 2021
Program Ends May 1, 2022

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.

Curriculum Snapshot

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
terms 6 & 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

Participating Organizations (2020–2021)

Allsides

Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting

Belleville News-Democrat

Blavity

Bradenton Herald

Cadillac News

Center Square

Chalkbeat

D.C. Witness

D.C. Witness

The Detroit News

The Dispatch

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Free Spirit Media

The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Greenwood Commonwealth

GroundTruth Project

Hearst

Houston Chronicle

The Journal (Tioga Tribune)

Kansas City Star

King's County/Queen's County Politics

Lexington Herald-Leader

The Miami Herald

National Review

The Nevada Independent

New York Daily News

News and Observer

News Center Maine

Noozhawk

Religion Unplugged

The Scope

SeattlePI.com

St. Louis Public Radio

Tampa Bay Times

Texas Metro News

Washington Examiner

Washington City Paper

WBRC-TV Fox (Birmingham, AL)

WBTV-TV CBS (Charlotte, NC)

WCSC-TV CBS (Charleston)

WCSH-TV NBC (Maine)

Additional Resources

Application Process

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