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Craigslist founder donates $1 million to Poynter Institute

Published Dec. 13, 2016

The Poynter Institute received a $1 million gift from the Craig Newmark Foundation on Monday, the largest donation from an individual foundation to the media studies institute in its existence.

The money will pay for the Craig Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics, the overseer of a five-year program at Poynter that focuses on best practices of verification, fact-checking and accountability in journalism, according to a news release by the institute.

"I want to stand up for trustworthy journalism and I want to stand against deceptive and fake news," said Newmark, founder of Craigslist and the Craig Newmark Foundation. "I want to help news organizations stand and work together to protect themselves and the public against deception by the fake media. Poynter's the right place to do this work because the institute has long been very serious about trustworthy news and committed to both training journalists and holding media organizations accountable."

The Poynter Institute, owner of the Tampa Bay Times, will host an annual conference on ethics over the next five years and will develop ethics certificates and badges to journalists and media organizations that commit to ethical decision-making practices.

The ethics chair, whom the institute plans to appoint in 2017, will also write regularly on Poynter.org, provide ethics training and conduct research and publish an annual paper examining the state of ethics in American journalism.

The institute says it plans to make the ethics chair a permanent faculty position.

"The need for credible, trusted information has never been more critical, as we've seen with the recent proliferation of fake news on social media," said Poynter president Tim Franklin. "This gift allows Poynter to begin a much-needed expansion of its vital work with journalists in exploring the intersection of media, technology and ethics. Our goal is to grow this into a centerpiece of Poynter's work in the future."

In addition to developing its own programs, Poynter says it will work with a range of other media organizations, including the Trust Project at Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, the American Press Institute, Google and Facebook to identify and support tools and techniques that deliver trustworthy news.