Poynter Institute News Webinars

This webinar series will be presented by the Poynter Institute and made available through participating state broadcasters associations.  Webinars will be 60 minutes in length, presented live and recorded for archive distribution.  Additional information on the later sessions, as well as registration links, will be provided as we get closer.


Reporting on Deaths by Suicide

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021 – 12 noon

Presented by:  Al Tompkins, Kelly McBride – Poynter Institute

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, in fact far more people die of suicide than homicide, yet it gets a fraction of our media coverage.  This workshop will help you find ways to cover this epidemic of preventable deaths by boosting your awareness, knowledge and skills in covering this vital topic.

We will:

  • Explode some myths about suicide including:
  • “It was a total surprise, nobody had any idea this was coming.” Almost always there are signs that a person is considering ending their own life.
  • “He just snapped.” Suicide almost always has many ingredients.
  • “We can’t talk about suicides because it will cause more of them.” You can cover the story while minimizing the harm that careless coverage may cause.
  • Document some of the most vulnerable populations. Young people, seniors, transsexual, gay, lesbian and bisexual populations are all at a greater suicide risk. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year old Americans.
  • Address gun violence, which is a major part of any discussion about suicide. Far more gun deaths are cases of suicide than homicide, yet it is homicide that makes the news every night.
  • Discuss treatment for depression. Currently, 80-90% of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using therapy and/or education.  We want this discussion to encourage you to talk to your audiences about self-care.

This workshop is focused on reporting about suicide, not ignoring it.  The more confident journalists are in their abilities to responsibly cover difficult topics, the more likely they are to tackle tough issues and raise public awareness.


Powerful Storytelling (part 1)

Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 – 12 noon

  • Finding and developing compelling characters
  • Finding sharp story focus
  • What goes where in the story and why
  • How to make words and video work seamless together even when you have limited video
  • How to spot soundbites that deeply connect with viewers

Powerful Storytelling (part 2)

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 – 12 noon

  • The eight motivators that make any story more interesting
  • Getting beyond the obvious to the more important “why” of the story
  • The power of the Ladder of Abstraction (how to make interesting stories important and important stories interesting)
  • Sentence structure that makes information unforgettable
  • Navigating the friction between creative storytelling and clear storytelling

Battling Bias

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 – 12 noon

  • Where do our biases come from?
  • How do we recognize our own biases?
  • Eight kinds of biases that can influence our journalism (these don’t make you a bad person, they mean you are normal)
  • How biases influence who is in and out of our coverage
  • How you can find new voices that will give you new insights, even on deadline
  • How biases even show up in our Google searches
  • The MOST likely place your biases might show up in a carefully crafted story

Fighting Fakes and Truth Decay

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 – 12 noon

  • Where does information come from and who is behind it?
  • Why do people spread disinformation?
  • How can you detect fake photos?
  • What is metadata and what will it tell you?
  • What does every journalist need to understand about algorithms?
  • See the newest tools fakers use to alter video and audio.
  • How to use polysearch tools to get to the root of an images’ origin