Poynter’s News University, the Knight-funded Journalism’s E-Learning Leader, Registers Its 200,000th User

Press Release

November 2, 2011


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Nov. 2, 2011)–The Poynter Institute’s e-learning project, the Knight-funded News University, announced today that it has registered its 200,000th user, marking a significant milestone for a program founded on the principles of flexible, focused and affordable journalism training. 

Two hundred thousand registered users is not the only number that reflects the significant contribution NewsU (www.newsu.org) is making to journalism training. With users in more than 200 countries, Poynter NewsU has achieved a global impact that wasn't anticipated at its conception eight years ago. Today, 14% of NewsU users are from outside North America, with India ranking behind the U.S. and Canada in number of users followed by Australia, the UK, the Philippines and China.

NewsU, with its more than 275 training modules, is the world’s largest e-learning site devoted to journalism skills training.  The site is open to professionals, journalism educators and students and the public.  It has more than 85 self-training courses, the hallmark of its e-learning methodology.

NewsU By the Numbers

“NewsU's numbers impress us, but the stories of users are even more impressive,” said Poynter Institute president Karen Dunlap.  “We regularly hear from journalists and other citizens around the world who rely on NewsU to learn new skills and keep growing. The Knight Foundation’s vision paid off.”

Poynter NewsU was created with a five-year grant from the Knight Foundation, which supported the creation of many of the free or low-cost training modules.

“NewsU was the first journalism-based e-learning project that took full advantage of the power of the Internet,” said Howard Finberg, Poynter's director of interactive learning. “Over the last eight years, we have created a learning environment that recognizes the need for ‘just-in-time’ training and for courses that are valuable for all types of participants, not just professional.  And we still try to add a dash of fun.”

What brings in users? The depth of offerings. NewsU features more than 275 different training modules, which include Webinars, self-directed training modules, online seminars, tutorials and seminar snapshots. Among the most popular offerings are:   

  • Cleaning Your Copy: Grammar, Style and More

  • The Be a Reporter Game

  • The Interview

  • The Lead Lab

  • News Sense: The Building Blocks of News    

In addition to core writing, editing and reporting courses, hallmark of Poynter’s training, NewsU has also been at the forefront of training on some of the most important media trends, including mobile apps, Twitter, Facebook, SEO and more.

The Results Are In

“Not long ago NewsU was a risky startup. Today, it is a star,” said Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. “NewsU works because journalists around the world want to learn how to get better. Poynter, our extraordinary partner, has done nothing less than create the best digital journalism school on the planet.”

That success is evident in feedback from users. In a recent survey of NewsU users, 75% said that half to all of the course content was useful and 62% said that the course helped them get better at their job or class work. Seventy-one percent would recommend NewsU to a colleague or a friend, while 80% are likely to extremely likely to take another course.

But here again, the numbers only tell part of the story. In anticipation of reaching this milestone, NewsU has asked users to share their stories. Since the request went out, more than 50 people from across the globe have participated, illustrating how this unique training program has made a difference in the lives of journalists everywhere.  The user with the winning story about how NewsU made a difference will receive an iPad.  Other winners will get the gift of training passes to Webinars and other modules.  Details are at www.newsu.org/stories.

The Evolution of NewsU

“Initially, we targeted young professionals or journalists who were changing their focus as our audience. However, once we saw who was using NewsU we widened our offerings,” said Finberg.  Today, for example, almost 10 percent of NewsU users are bloggers or independent/freelance journalists. And NewsU is developing a new curriculum around entrepreneurial journalism.

But it’s not just the audience that’s evolved. So, too, have the offerings beyond courses. Over the years, NewsU has conducted both formal and informal research to find out what users were looking for. That feedback has helped shape NewsU’s vision of training needs, formats and platforms. In addition to e-learning modules, NewsU has offered more than 450 training tips delivered daily via Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/newsu) and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/newsuniversity).

User feedback also has led to the creation of a wide range of unique tools for both educators and professionals. The NewsU Certificate Program and the Digital Course Packs provide a way to evaluate students’skills or to supplement teaching materials--both in the classroom and the newsroom. Syllabus Exchange gives educators a forum for sharing syllabi, assignments and other teaching resources.   

What’s next for NewsU is just as exciting. The project is working on ways its users can interact with one another—a learner community—to share best practices or come up with new ideas or tips. In addition, there are plans for more courses in other languages as part of the recently launched NewsU International project in partnership with ICFJ, www.newsuinternational.org.

“Registering 200,000 users might just be the start of something big,” said Finberg.

About Poynter and Poynter News University

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. Poynter’s News University (http://www.newsu.org) offers training to journalists, journalism students, teachers and the public through more than 275 interactive e-learning modules and other forms of training. It has more than 200,000 registered users in 225 countries.


Howard Finberg, Director of Interactive Learning
[email protected]

Jessica Blais, Director of Marketing
[email protected]