jack webster foundation

We gratefully acknowledge our sponosors of the 2020 Jack Webster Awards:

JWF Fellowships to the Poynter Institute for Print, Broadcast and Online News Journalists

Poynter Experience

Reports from:Robert Doane | Sharron Bates | Jessica Barrett | Sandra Hermiston | Dene Moore

Robert DoaneRobert Doane
CBC Prince George

My seminar was entitled "Essential Skills for the Digital Journalist." It was a four-day seminar that explores media across a variety of mediums. In it, I learned about video editing, audio, audio-slides, and best ways to use social media, web writing and ethics.

When I first signed up for this seminar, I wasn't sure what to expect. I wanted to learn other mediums outside of radio. This course appeared to me as the best means to learn about how to incorporate other tools into the work I do.

The Poynter Institute is an amazing institution. I felt comfortable sharing and learning. The style and method of learning is a fantastic combination of hands-on practice infused with theory and discussion. The approach to instruction is a two-way street. My peers and I were able to share our knowledge while reaping the benefits of a collective education.

This fellowship has expanded my repertoire of media skills. I feel confident in my newfound abilities and am genuinely excited about showing and sharing what I've learned with others. The experience was well paced, educational, and extremely rewarding. I'd recommend this fellowship to anyone, at all interested, in building on his or her own foundation of work.

I'm seeing areas in my work, where I can incorporate what I've learned. I plan on sharing what I've learned with others to better incorporate social media and new software tools to a show I'm already proud of. I have at least 3 projects in mind stemming from my experience. I'm excited, rejuvenated and inspired by what I've seen here. This makes me want to be a better journalist.

I'd recommend this Fellowship at Poynter's to anyone.

Sharron BatesSharron Bates
Global TV

TV Power Reporting (August 2011)

Firstly, I would like to thank the Jack Webster Foundation for sending me to The Poynter Institute to attend the TV Power Reporting seminar. Wow, what an incredible experience. It was challenging, thought provoking, revitalizing, and fun.

The class was made up of a wide variety of people, some just starting out in journalism and some seasoned veterans but all were very talented and I learned something from each of them. The week kicked off with a class called "getting to know you." This seems simple enough, but our instructor, Al Tompkins, led us willingly down a seemingly certain path, and then asked why did we go that way? From this moment on I felt I was going to be challenged, and I was.

The other instructors were also great. Being a video journalist, I learned a lot from Les Rose, a cameraman with CBS. He showed us some of his favourite and hard-to-shoot stories. It was so informative to deconstruct a story and critically think about what worked and what did not. We were also able to do this with stories from classmates. Everyone got "30 minutes of fame." This was where we showed our best or worst stories and got feedback from the instructors and the class. It was helpful and a lot of fun to get feedback on my own work, and see other classmates' work.

The other very interesting class was the "how to be an online superstar." Theresa Collins did an amazing job of getting people talking about what works and does not work in the online world. There is so much out there for journalists to utilize to get their stories seen/heard. As soon as I got back to work I started to investigate how I could integrate some of what I learned in this class to my everyday work flow.

The Poynter is a great institution. It is extremely well run and organized, and there is so much talent teaching there and attending, you can't help but want to learn and you emerge eager to implement your new found knowledge.

Jessica BarrettJessica Barrett
WE Vancouver

Seminar: Narrative Writing

On the last day of my week-long seminar one of my classmates stood up and tearfully told the group that his week at Poynter was one of the best of his life.

I felt the exact same way.

I've heard Poynter described as "Disneyland for journalists" and it's not far off. A place dedicated to the creation and promotion of exemplary journalism through meticulous reporting and innovative storytelling. In a field where it's so easy to get ground down and give up, I was reminded how important the work is that we do and how a well-crafted story can not only maximize its impact, but also make the work more fulfilling on a personal level.

Tom French and Jacqui Banaszynski are clearly crack reporters, but they are also gifted teachers able to impart their collective wisdom in a way that's both accessible and inspiring. At Poynter, I learned to look at news in a whole new light and since returning to my newsroom have been able to find stories in places I never would have thought to look before and assemble them to not just be informative, but entertaining. So often we overlook the craft of writing in our newsrooms. Poynter outfitted me with the tools to bring those two elements together and do it on a deadline. And the courage to "zag" when everyone else "zigs."

Equally valuable was the time spent with my classmates in and out of the seminar. Regardless of whether you worked in a one-man newsroom in rural Colorado, an alternative weekly in Vancouver, or at the Wall Street Journal, we were all equals sharing the same passion for our work and struggling with the same demands. It was an invaluable experience I will hold on to for a long, long time.

My utmost thanks to the Webster Foundation for its support of continuing education in journalism, my only regret is that not every reporter can have such an experience.

At Poynter, I kept a daily blog as a refresher of the main topics we learned that day: www.tothepoynt.wordpress.com

Sandra HermistonSandra Hermiston

First off, I would like to thank the Jack Webster Foundation for the opportunity to attend the Essential Skills for the Digital Journalist seminar at Poynter. The Poynter campus is an oasis in Florida, filled with the instructors and tools needed to rejuvenate and inspire journalists. I left there feeling revitalized and I am excited to use the new skills in our newsroom.

The 15 people in my course came from a wide variety of backgrounds - television, radio, newspapers, professors, communications specialists. Everyone brought a unique perspective to the table. The week long course was packed with information. We looked at the best ways to utilize social media, ethics surrounding cross platform journalism, as well as the basics of audio and video editing. I feel that I took something important from each course they presented.

The instructors were great. Our lead instructor, Regina, was well organized and made the material easy to understand. It's hard to believe in such a short time we were able to edit our own audio and video pieces. Our guest lecturers also brought a lot to the table. Shawn has inspired me to look into creating a website or blog and Jenni was the master of sound and video.

I think this course will definitely benefit our newsroom. I have already met with our website manager to discuss new ways to use our segment's website and social media. He was open to the new ideas and I think we will be implementing them in the coming weeks. We also plan to meet again to discuss more extensively some other ideas that have come from Poynter.

Our website has become such a large part of what we do. Now, we're finding ways to enhance that and add value for our viewers. As well, we can be much more interactive and create an online community where we can hear more feedback on what our viewers really want.

Overall, I feel like this course has greatly improved my multimedia skills and given me some tools to thrive in this constantly changing landscape of new media.

Dene MooreDene Moore
The Canadian Press

Being in the news business these last few years has started to feel a bit like a game of Survivor, minus the guarantee of a windfall at the end.

We're in the midst of a revolution, and like most revolutions it's included its fair share of bloodletting. We're all trying to do more with less, as we experiment and innovate and adapt to the digital world.

To this end, the Jack Webster Foundation very generously funded my attendance at the Leadership Academy at the Poynter Institute this fall.

I applied to the Academy looking for tips and tricks to stretch resources and keep my newsroom - The Canadian Press bureau in Vancouver - on the cutting edge of new media, and ended up with that and so much more.

Beyond being a well of experience and innovation, the Poynter Institute is a place where journalism maintains those lofty ideals that drew most of us to the business in the first place. It was an invaluable mid-career pick-me-up, where I was reminded not just how to coach writers, tap into Twitter and mind the bottom line, but of the importance of what we do and how to do it better.

We shape the world around us, shine light in dark places, ask the questions that should be asked.

This business has been through tough times before and survived. It will do the same this time, so chin up and carry on!

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