News University

Mission and History

Journalists are hungry for more training. In a recent survey, more than 95 percent of professional journalists said they want more training, but they struggle with limited resources and finding time in their busy schedules.

Enter News University. A project of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, NewsU is committed to providing interactive, inexpensive courses that appeal to journalists at all levels of experience and in all types of media. Officially launched in April 2005, NewsU offers an innovative approach to helping journalists enhance their skills. We know the most successful journalists never stop learning.

News University is supported by a grant from Knight Foundation, part of the foundation's Newsroom Training Initiative, which aims to increase both journalism education and news industry investment in training.

The Poynter Institute's Mission
Poynter is a school dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders. It promotes excellence and integrity in the practice of craft and in the practical leadership of successful businesses. It stands for a journalism that informs citizens and enlightens public discourse. It carries forward Nelson Poynter’s belief in the value of independent journalism.


What is News University?

NewsU ( offers newsroom training to journalists and journalism students through its interactive e-learning program and links to other journalism education and training opportunities. The program is a partnership between the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

Who is the audience?

Eventually, we expect our scope will be international, with courses in a number of languages. Initially, we are focused on meeting the training needs of U.S. journalists, journalism students and educators. Courses at NewsU vary from beginner to veteran journalist and cover all types of media—print, broadcast and online.

When did NewsU start?

Our official launch was in April 2005.

How much does NewsU charge?

Many courses are free, especially those that are self-directed. We plan to make sure that costs are very reasonable for both individuals and organizations with limited resources.

Does NewsU offer financial aid for fee-based courses?

We know times are tight. So, thanks to a grant from The Harnisch Foundation, we are able to offer journalists a limited number of scholarships to our Webinars. You need to be a registered user at NewsU and explain a little bit about why you need financial help. For details, go to

What types of courses are offered?

We offer courses across the scope of journalism: leadership and management; reporting, writing and editing; broadcast; online; ethics; visual journalism; and journalism education.

Will special software be needed?

No special software is needed. NewsU’s interactive learning courses are Web-based. Depending on the course, a high-speed or broadband connection might be important for the learning experience. Many of the courses, however, require the Flash player plug-in.

What is the format for NewsU courses?

News University offers four kinds of e-learning:

  1. Self-Directed Learning Modules. (In e-learning language, they’re called “asynchronous” modules.) These are the ultimate in e-learning flexibility. Participants can start and stop whenever they like, progressing entirely at their own pace and going back as many times as they want to review the material. The modules make use of interactive technology, so they're more engaging than a mere collection of Web pages.
  2. Group (or "semi-synchronous") Seminars. Participants gather in a virtual space, logging in from anywhere, day or night, over the course of several days or several weeks. A faculty member guides the group through new material, moderates discussions and provides individual feedback.
  3. Webinars or eSeminars ("synchronous" modules). These are live seminars or events broadcast over the Web; participants can tune in from their computer at work or at home and ask questions in real-time. And if they can't join us live, we make recordings of many of these seminars available as self-directed learning modules.
  4. Seminar Snapshots. These are edited video highlights and other materials that capture the key learning points of seminar presentations at The Poynter Institute or at other training events.

How much time do participants need to take a course?

Many courses take about one to two hours. Our goal is to provide tightly focused modules that allow participants to easily find the time to complete a course. Participants will be able to enter and exit the course as their time permits.

How do participants sign up for a course?

It’s very simple. Register. Enroll. Learn. To access any e-learning course, register with NewsU on the site’s home page. Once you've registered, prompts on the site will walk you through the steps you need to enroll in a specific course.

Does NewsU work with other organizations?

Our goal is to provide the technology and expertise to journalism associations and educators so they might offer specific courses to their membership. We are already working with such organizations as the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ), the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) and the American Copy Editors Society (ACES) to develop e-learning modules. NewsU is willing to work with any group that wants to help journalists get training through e-learning.

In addition, Access, the NewsU blog, highlights other journalism training available online.

What role does Knight Foundation play?

News University is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. This grant is part of the foundation's Newsroom Training Initiative, which aims to increase both journalism education and news industry investment in training.

Why is Poynter going into e-learning?

News University extends Poynter’s mission as a school for journalists. About 1,000 journalists a year visit the institute’s campus in St. Petersburg, Fla. And Poynter's Web site ( is the most popular trade site used by journalists nationally. NewsU offers interactive training in craft and leadership skills to professional journalists and journalism students who cannot attend a seminar in Florida.

We know that training opportunities for journalists are more important than ever. Journalists want more training, but they struggle to find the time within their own busy schedules. (For more about this topic, please read "Training: It Matters More Than Ever." This report, published in July 2004, outlines the hunger for training among journalists and shows the great potential for e-learning. It was conducted by Urban & Associates, Inc., for The Poynter Institute and News University and builds on the 2002 study by Knight Foundation and the National Council of Journalism Organizations.)

At the same time, news executives recognize the need for training; yet they struggle to make effective use of their newsroom budgets.

News University’s e-learning program hopes to meet these training needs. It also will be an opportunity for Poynter to extend its reach and mission by increasing our ability to teach.

NewsU, however, is much more than Poynter. NewsU is an e-learning portal linking journalists to the growing amount of midcareer training content available through the Internet, including the teaching of the Knight Chairs in Journalism. NewsU also will offer content from a number of different journalism groups and associations, as well as link to other e-learning opportunities.

Is NewsU interested in other courses?

We are open to any course topic that helps journalists do a better job or helps them grow as professionals.

What kinds of courses are we looking for?

The content of NewsU courses will span the spectrum of journalism training needs: leadership and management; reporting, writing and editing; broadcast; online; ethics; and visual journalism. Topics range from writing better leads to understanding photographs as story-telling images to understanding how to cover specific issues such as drinking-water quality to how to manage your boss.

How do I develop a course for NewsU?

If you or your group would like to discuss the development of e-learning courses for journalists, please read the Course Development FAQ.

Other questions? Contact Howard Finberg, Director of Interactive Learning at The Poynter Institute at You can also call the Institute at 727.821.9494.


  1. This is a great opportunity to learn and maybe even further your career. Not to be missed!


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