How do I love you Poynter? Let me count the ways.

The Poynter Institute is celebrating the 10th anniversary of NewsU, the online courses it offers, often free of charge, to student, professional and citizen journalists. They asked those of us who use NewsU to write something about how it has transformed us, or our careers. I had lots to say and I share it here — you might see it quoted elsewhere, by Poynter, because I wrote it for them first. But I can imagine that they have many, many journalists writing testimonials about what NewsU has done for them, so you might never see mine! Just so you won’t miss it, here it is:

The amazing thing about Poynter is how many different ways it helps me as a journalism educator. I can list six different levels at which I use NewsU and Poynter’s other work to make me a more effective educator and mentor to journalists at different stages of their careers..

First, I deal with a lot of beginners, and they use the “Be a Reporter Game” to start out. It helps them to appreciate all that’s involved in reporting. Later, they can get extra credit for doing the Clean Your Copy exercises. These help me to reach students who often don’t listen in lectures and need hands-on exercises to learn.

Second, I work with more advanced reporters, in student media and my advanced courses, who use the law course, the Clean Your Copy course, the editing courses, and others.

Third, I am active with the hyperlocal paper in our community, written by citizen journalists, and in the Society of Professional Journalists, where I often meet people seeking to start a freelance career in mid-life. Poynter courses are ideal for these people because they offer a variety of starting points and endpoints — people’s goals and experience differ widely.

Fourth, I use the webinars and advanced courses myself, to stay on top of the latest techniques and technology. This year, I had to start teaching video in a multimedia course, so I attended a couple of webinars and took a full Poynter course in video journalism to prepare. I cannot thank you enough for having flexible, online courses and webinars that I can fit into my schedule as needed. By the way, the just-in-time video training has been extremely helpful. The course is going well! My students seem to love the fact I remember the challenges of learning what they are learning. I even use some of the bad videos I shot, early in the course, as instruction materials.

Fifth, I also want to thank Poynter for its work in ethics, where Kelly McBride and others have been at the leading edge in research and practical advice for journalists working in a changing field.

Sixth, Poynter provides wonderful research on what employers and educators believe is most important for student journalists to learn. Every year at the annual conference of journalism educators, the AEJMC, you are there with the information we need to keep abreast of what we need to teach in a rapidly changing field.

For all these reasons I say Thank You Poynter!  

If anyone feels inspired by this to support the Poynter Institute, as I do with a small monthly donation, here’s the page that shows all the ways you can do that.


About Carrie Buchanan

Journalism and communication professor, Canadian, now living and teaching in the United States. Longtime journalist in Canada, primarily for the Ottawa Citizen.
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