Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a non-profit journalism school and research organization in St. Petersburg, Florida, United States. The school is the owner of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper and the International Fact-Checking Network.[2][3] It also operates PolitiFact.[4]

Poynter Institute
Poynter Institute logo.svg
MottoDemocracy needs journalism. Journalism needs Poynter.
TypeSchool of Journalism
EstablishedMay 29, 1975
PresidentNeil Brown[1]
Location, ,



The school began on May 29, 1975, when Nelson Poynter, the owner and chairman of the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) and Times Publishing Company, announced that he planned to start a small journalism school called the Modern Media Institute. (The name of the school was changed to the Poynter Institute almost a decade later.)[citation needed]

In 1977, Nelson Poynter willed ownership of the Times Publishing Company to the Institute so that after his death the school would become the owner of the St. Petersburg Times. Poynter died on June 15, 1978, at the age of 74. He had become ill in his office just a few hours after he helped break ground for the new St. Petersburg campus of the University of South Florida.[citation needed]

At that point, the Institute began to grow into the larger school that exists today. The second president, Robert J. Haiman, moved the institute in 1985 to its current building.[5]

Expansion and developmentEdit

Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist) is a board member of the Poynter Foundation and donated $1 million to it in 2015.[6][7] In 2015, Poynter received $382,997 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to influence news coverage of global health initiatives.[8] In 2017, the Poynter Institute received $1.3 million from the Omidyar Network and the Open Society Foundations in order to support new projects in three main areas: fact-checking technology, impact tracking, and financial awards through innovation grants and crowdfunding matches.[9]

In 2018, the Poynter Institute began a cooperation with the content recommendation network Revcontent, to stop misinformation and fake news in articles[10][11][12] supplying Revcontent with fact-checking provided by their International Fact-checking Network.[13] January 11, 2018, the Charles Koch Foundation's Director of Free Expression, Sarah Ruger, stated in an American Society of News Editors news release that "The foundation supports many grantees committed to press freedom, including The Poynter Institute, the Newseum and Techdirt's free speech initiative."[14] On February 12, 2018, the Tampa Bay Times, the for-profit branch of the nonprofit Poynter institute spun off the Pulitzer Prize–winning PolitiFact website to form an independent division within Poynter.[4] In March 2018, Google.org appointed Poynter Institute as the leader of their MediaWise program to equip middle and high school students to better differentiate online news and information. Google funded this with a $3 million grant.[15]

Since 2019, The Washington Post has been partnering with the Poynter Institute to increase diversity in media, with the goal to expand Poynter's annual Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media training journalists to become founders, top-level executives and innovators.[16][17] Other sponsors are CNN, the Scripps Howard Foundations, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and TEGNA Foundation.[18]

Poynter published a list of over 515 news websites that it labeled "unreliable" in 2019. The author of the piece used various fake news databases (including those curated by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, Merrimack College, PolitiFact, and Snopes) to compile the list and called on advertisers to "blacklist" the included sites. The list included conservative news websites such as the Washington Examiner, The Washington Free Beacon, and The Daily Signal as well as conspiracy outfits including InfoWars.[19] After backlash from both readers of and contributors to some of the included publications, Poynter retracted the list, citing "weaknesses in the methodology".[20] Poynter issued a statement, saying: "[w]e regret that we failed to ensure that the data was rigorous before publication, and apologize for the confusion and agitation caused by its publication."[21] Reason pointed out that the author was a freelancer hired by the Institute who typically works for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Reason drew parallels between the accuracy of the list with SPLC's own work on hate groups.[19]

Election integrity and COVID-19Edit

In January 2020, having received funding from Facebook, the Poynter Institute was able to expand the MediaWise Programme with a national media literacy program called MediaWise Voter project (#MVP) to reach 2 million American first-time voter college students, helping them to be better prepared and informed for the 2020 elections.[22]

The Poynter Institute received $737,400 in federal loans from the Paycheck Protection Program during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Neil Brown noted that this was not the first time the institute received government funding, noting past training contracts with Voice of America.[23]



As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Poynter receives funding from corporations, philanthropic organizations and government agencies. Major donors since 2015 include:[24][25][8]

Poynter provides media training for media and communications organizations. Clients include the American Society of Business Publication Editors, Community Newspaper Holdings, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Danish School of Media and Journalism, Google, Media24, National Public Radio, NBC News, Newsweek, Penske Media Corporation, Pinellas County School District, Raliance, Tegna, United States Agency for Global Media, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, USA Today, and the Washington Post.[24]


News UniversityEdit

News University (NewsU) is a project of the Poynter Institute that offers journalism training through methods including e-learning courses, webinars, and learning games. NewsU is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.[26]

International Fact-Checking NetworkEdit

Logo of the International Fact-Checking Network

In 2015, the institute launched the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which sets a code of ethics for fact-checking organizations. The IFCN reviews fact-checkers for compliance with its code, and issues a certification to publishers who pass the audit. The certification lasts for one year, and fact-checkers must be re-examined annually to retain their certifications.[27] Google, Facebook, and other technology companies use the IFCN's certification to vet publishers for fact-checking contracts.[28][29][30]

The IFCN and the American Press Institute jointly publish Factually, a newsletter on fact-checking and journalism ethics.[27][31]

Poynter MedalEdit

Since 2015, the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism has been awarded by the Poynter Institute. Winners include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Neil Brown". Poynter.
  2. ^ "Company Overview of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Inc". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on November 17, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  3. ^ "Short film celebrates Pulitzer Prize centennial". Tampa Bay Times. April 12, 2016. Archived from the original on February 22, 2018. Retrieved April 13, 2016. The Poynter Institute, which owns the Tampa Bay Times, hosted one such event on March 31.
  4. ^ a b "PolitiFact Becomes Its Own Division within Nonprofit Poynter Institute". Nonprofit Quarterly. February 13, 2018. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  5. ^ "History". Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on March 30, 2020. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
  6. ^ Gold, Hadas (December 12, 2016). "Craigslist founder gives Poynter Institute $1 million to support 'journalism ethics'". Politico. Archived from the original on November 17, 2018. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  7. ^ O'Shea, Chris (December 12, 2018). "Craig Newmark Donates $1 Million to Poynter Institute". Adweek. Archived from the original on August 15, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Inc". Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. November 2015. Archived from the original on December 6, 2022. Retrieved December 6, 2022.
  9. ^ "$1.3 Million in Grants from Omidyar Network, Open Society Foundations Will Expand Poynter's International Fact-Checking Network" (Press release). Poynter Institute. June 29, 2017. Archived from the original on June 29, 2017. Retrieved January 4, 2020 – via PR Newswire.
  10. ^ "Revcontent, Poynter Partner to Demonetize Fake News". MediaPost. August 16, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  11. ^ "Revcontent is trying to get rid of misinformation with help from the Poynter Institute". Inventiva. August 14, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  12. ^ "Revcontent is trying to get rid of misinformation with help from the Poynter Institute". The Oklahoman. August 14, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  13. ^ "Revcontent is trying to get rid of misinformation with help from the Poynter Institute". TechCrunch. August 14, 2018. Retrieved August 3, 2021.
  14. ^ "Koch Foundation grants to ASNE, Poynter ignite criticism". Columbia Journalism Review. January 11, 2018. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  15. ^ "Poynter Receives $3 Million Grant From Google.org to Lead a Program to Teach Teens to Tell Fact From Fiction Online". PR Newswire. March 20, 2018. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  16. ^ "The Washington Post partners with Poynter for the Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media". The Washington Post. April 17, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  17. ^ "The Washington Post and Poynter name members of the 2019 Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media". The Washington Post. September 9, 2019. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  18. ^ "Matthew Ong named to the Poynter, Washington Post Leadership Academy for Diversity in Digital Media". The Cancer Letter. August 6, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  19. ^ a b "Poynter Institute's Retracted List of Fake News Sites Was Written by SPLC Podcast Producer". Reason Foundation. June 5, 2019. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  20. ^ Concha, Joe (May 3, 2019). "Poynter pulls blacklist of 'unreliable' news websites after backlash". The Hill. Archived from the original on July 30, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  21. ^ Allen, Barbara (May 2, 2019). "Letter from the Editor". Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  22. ^ "The Poynter Institute announces investment from Facebook to expand MediaWise digital information literacy program to first-time voters". PR Newswire. January 22, 2020. Retrieved August 13, 2021.
  23. ^ Farhi, Paul (April 29, 2020). "Axios returns coronavirus bailout loan as news organizations grapple with the ethics of taking government funds". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  24. ^ a b "Major Funders". Poynter Institute. October 2022. Archived from the original on December 5, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  25. ^ Wallace, Wendy (August 17, 2017). "Largest funders of The Poynter Institute". Poynter Institute. Archived from the original on December 5, 2022. Retrieved December 5, 2022.
  26. ^ "Poynter Institute to grow 'News University' platform with Knight Foundation funding". Tampa Bay Times. June 28, 2016. Archived from the original on May 3, 2019. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  27. ^ a b Lerner-Rubin, D. (October 23, 2019). "Fact-checking fact-checkers". The Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on February 5, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  28. ^ Ananth, Venkat (May 7, 2019). "Can fact-checking emerge as big and viable business?". The Economic Times. Archived from the original on August 8, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  29. ^ Owen, Laura Hazard (August 15, 2019). "Finally, Instagram is getting fact-checked (in a limited way and just in the U.S., for now)". Nieman Journalism Lab. Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Archived from the original on December 15, 2019. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  30. ^ "Facebook's War on Bullshit Is Not Going Well—We Talked to the Fact Checkers on the Front Lines". Gizmodo. August 27, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  31. ^ Granger, Jacob (April 24, 2019). "10 essential newsletters every journalist should read". Journalism.co.uk. Archived from the original on May 2, 2019. Retrieved December 12, 2019.

External linksEdit