Poynter Announces Winners from 'NewsU Stories Campaign' Contest

Feb 23, 2012, 15:20 ET from The Poynter Institute/News University

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Feb. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Poynter Institute's e-learning project, News University (NewsU), today announced the winners of its second Stories Campaign. For the contest, NewsU asked users to share stories about how the online journalism training site transformed their lives. From more than 100 entries, seven winners were selected including one grand prize, one honorable mention and five merit winners. 

Poynter NewsU first ran the Stories Campaign in 2008 to celebrate the site's third anniversary. In 2011, the kick-off to the contest coincided with the announcement of NewsU's 200,000th registered user. "These milestones represent a great opportunity to learn from our audience and see what kind of impact we're having," said Howard Finberg, Poynter's director of interactive learning. "In 2011, as was the case in 2008, we were overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm reflected in these stories. Poynter NewsU users are committed to their craft and appreciate being able to perfect it, even when training budgets are tight or non-existent."

The reality of limited training opportunities was a theme that ran through many of this year's entries, including that of grand prize winner and Apple iPad recipient, Deborah Stever of the Deposit Courier in New York. Stever transitioned to a career in journalism without any formal training and appreciates NewsU both for its low-cost offerings and its flexibility. "When it comes to taking courses, my time is limited," she said. "I'm the only news reporter, and at night I might have a town meeting or a school board meeting. It's hard to plan the day with stuff coming up. I love the fact that you can jump in and out of courses. I've signed up for a few Webinars only to find out on the day of that I wouldn't be able to attend. But I could still access the Webinar replay and all of the materials."

Honorable mention winner, Jean Griffith-Thompson of The Rosen Group, also appreciates access to NewsU's vast resources as she built a training curriculum for Boy Scouts in Baltimore seeking to earn a journalism merit badge. "Most journalists visit NewsU for themselves, but I was trying to figure out how to use it to teach high school and middle school students. I knew that I didn't have to reinvent the wheel and that there were other people teaching these things, but I didn't know how to access them. The Poynter NewsU site opened the door for me and showed me the materials I was going to need." As the honorable-mention recipient, Griffith-Thompson received a free pass to 25 Poynter NewsU Webinars.

In addition to the grand prize and honorable mention, five merit winners received 7,500 Poynter NewsU Training Points, worth $75. They include: Tara Leonard, a web developer for The Chronicle in Centralia, Wash.; Jayne Watts, an administrative assistant for The Post-Bulletin in Rochester, Minn.; Michelle Hofmann, a journalism instructor at Los Angeles Pierce College; Myles Dannhausen, news editor for Peninsula Pulse in Wisconsin; and Tim Lindop, a freelance video journalist.   

The winning stories will be highlighted on Poynter NewsU (www.newsu.org/stories-winners-2012) and on http://about.poynter.org, the Institute's site for news about all of its training.

"NewsU has run many different contests," said Finberg. "But the Stories Campaign is a special one because it allows us to see our impact on a community that is hungry for journalism craft and values training. Poynter has always made an impact with its training – in person and online.  It's great to know that we make a real difference in the lives our learning community."  

About Poynter's News University
Poynter's News University (http://www.newsu.org) offers training to journalists, journalism students, teachers and the public through more than 250 interactive e-learning modules and other forms of training. It has more than 211,000 registered users in 225 countries.

The Poynter Institute trains journalism practitioners, media leaders, educators and citizens in the areas of online and multimedia, leadership and management, reporting, writing and editing, TV and radio, ethics and diversity, journalism education and visual journalism. Poynter's website, (http://www.poynter.org) is the dominant provider of journalism news, with a focus on business analysis and the opportunities and implications of technology.

Howard Finberg, Director of Interactive Learning

Jessica Blais, Director of Marketing

SOURCE The Poynter Institute/News University