Poynter's News University Registers 100,000th Member

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The Poynter Institute's e-learning site, News University, marks a major milestone. At 100,000 users, the site is now bigger than the physical campus of any U.S. university

We knew the demand for instruction in journalism via e-learning was great

News University, the world's leading source of online journalism training, has reached a new milestone: registered user number 100,000. And it took fewer than four years.

Launched by The Poynter Institute in April 2005 with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, NewsU attracts journalists, educators, students, corporate communicators, bloggers and others interested in journalism to a virtual e-learning campus now bigger than the physical campus of any U.S. university.

NewsU registrants come from more than 200 countries to take one of more than 85 online courses on topics ranging from writing better headlines to multimedia storytelling. NewsU's self-directed courses, Webinars and online group seminars are planned and produced by Poynter faculty and staff, and include offerings created in conjunction with one of more than 30 partners, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the Suburban Newspapers of America Foundation, the National Press Photographers Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation, the Media Bloggers Association, the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, the Asian American Journalists Association, the American Association for Public Opinion Research and the Online News Association.

NewsU's growth comes at a time when the economic crisis afflicting the news industry has reduced the size of training budgets in many newsrooms.

"We know how deeply the economy is affecting the ability of news organizations and individuals to get the training they need," said Karen B. Dunlap, president of The Poynter Institute. "As the industry evolves, Poynter is evolving to meet the needs of journalists, educators and students. NewsU is one way the Institute is expanding its training mission to those who believe that quality journalism serves our democracy."

NewsU's success in helping participants become better journalists is measured in surveys taken every three months. Questions are asked in several ways to gauge the courses' effectiveness. The aggregate survey data indicates the following:

  •     70 percent said NewsU modules were useful to extremely useful to their work (or classroom activities)
  •     76 percent said half to all the course content was helpful in their current profession (or in the classroom)
  •     61 percent said NewsU was helpful to extremely helpful in getting better on the job (or in the classroom)
  •     62 percent said they would review the course in the future as a reference
  •     72 percent said they would definitely recommend NewsU to a colleague
  •     82 percent said they are likely to take another NewsU module

NewsU's courses are at the heart of the site's success. Courses use interactive games, simulations and multimedia that appeal to journalists, educators and students at all levels of experience. NewsU allows its users to take courses at any time of the day or night, proceed at their own pace and return at any time to review the material. Best of all, NewsU courses are low-cost or free.

Another indicator of success is the reach of NewsU across platforms. About half of NewsU's users work in print, one quarter are online and a quarter are in radio or TV. About 35 percent are reporters, writers and editors, 20 percent are students, 5 percent are teachers and about 5 percent say they neither work in journalism nor in the media business. Users range from publishers, station managers and advertising staff to corporate communicators and individuals interested in improving their writing or multi-media skills.

"We knew the demand for instruction in journalism via e-learning was great," said Howard Finberg, director of interactive learning, Poynter/NewsU. "But journalists in the digital age need even more training than we could have predicted. While we celebrate our success in reaching and training a wide range of journalists and future journalists, we are also looking toward the future and even more ways we can help everyone do their jobs better."

In NewsU's quarterly surveys, registrants share stories of how NewsU meets a critical training need.

  •     Tonya McCleary, assistant news director, WAWS/WTEV Jacksonville, FL: "Thanks NewsU. It is not always possible to make it to The Poynter Institute, but NewsU brings Poynter professionals into the newsroom and my home. Continuing education is critical for journalists in this quickly changing world of news."
  •     Antoineta Rica, military journalist, U.S. Army: "I discovered NewsU through The Poynter Institute while seeking to improve my writing while deployed to Iraq. I did not feel like I was properly capturing the essence of the soldiers and their stories in my articles. As a Staff Sergeant in the Army my role is also to mentor other junior journalists. While in Tikrit, Iraq, I made all the soldiers in my team sign up for classes in NewsU."
  •     Sheila Hagar, reporter, Walla Walla (Wash.) Union-Bulletin: "I credit NewsU for helping me do my job better than I could on my own, giving me courage to try new things. I don't feel alone when I take a class and it's never felt like a waste of time. To serve my beat and readers in a way I'm proud of, to simply feel confident in my job - this is NewsMe."

Download a report on NewsU's 100,000th user milestone and read more stories from registered users at http://100k.newsu.org.

About News University
NewsU (http://www.newsu.org) 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. News University is the e-learning project of The Poynter Institute and is supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

About The Poynter Institute
Founded in 1975 in St. Petersburg, Fla., The Poynter Institute (http://www.poynter.org) is one of the nation's top schools for professional journalists, future journalists and journalism teachers. Poynter offers training throughout the year 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.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (http://www.knightfoundation.org) invests in journalism excellence worldwide and in the vitality of U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Since 1950, the foundation has granted more than $400 million to advance quality journalism and freedom of expression. Knight Foundation focuses on projects with the potential to create transformational change.

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