Nelson Poynter

Nelson Poynter (1903–1978) was an American publisher and media proprietor. He was the owner of the Times Publishing Company, and the co-founder of the Congressional Quarterly. He is the namesake of the Poynter Institute.

Nelson Poynter
Alma materIndiana University
Yale University
OccupationPublisher, media proprietor
Spouse(s)Marian Knauss

Early life

Poynter was born in Sullivan, Indiana, in 1903. His family moved to Florida nine years later when his father, Paul Poynter, bought the St. Petersburg Times. Nelson returned to Indiana to get his B.A. from Indiana University and went on to complete a master's degree from Yale University in 1927.[1]


Poynter worked various newspaper jobs across the country after completing his education. He began buying stock from his father in 1935, and he became an editor in 1939.[1] He stayed in this position until his father's death in 1953 when he was appointed president. He co-founded the Congressional Quarterly with his wife, Henrietta.[2]

Poynter established the Poynter Fund in 1954 to honor his father. He gave generously to his two alma maters to enrich their journalism programs.[1][3] His most lasting legacy was to establish the Modern Media Institute which was renamed the Poynter Institute after his death in 1978.[4] The Poynter Institute received all of his shares in the Times Publishing Company that owns the St. Petersburg Times (renamed the Tampa Bay Times in 2012) and Congressional Quarterly (sold to The Economist Group in 2009).[5]

Personal life, death and legacy

Poynter was married three times: first to Catherine, then to Henrietta from 1942 until her death in 1968, and finally to Marian Knauss until his death.[6]

Poynter died of a cerebral hemorrhage on June 15, 1978 in St. Petersburg, Florida.[6] In a memo beforehand, he instructed The Times' staff not to overplay news of his death and insisted there be no memorial service because "I have observed no one really likes to go a funeral."[7]

The Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, built in 1996, was built in memory of Poynter on the campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.[8]


  1. Journalism, Indiana University (1976-01-28). "Poynter, Nelson". Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  2. "History of CQ Roll Call - CQ Roll Call". Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  3. Ellis, Gavin (2014). Trust Ownership and the Future of News: Media Moguls and White Knights. Palgrave Macmillan;. ISBN 978-1137369437.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  4. "A brief history of The Poynter Institute | Poynter". Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  5. "By giving away the St. Petersburg Times, Nelson Poynter may have ensured its survival". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  6. "Nelson Poynter, publisher of Kokomo Dispatch, dead". The Kokomo Tribune. Kokomo, Indiana. June 17, 1978. p. 3. Retrieved July 7, 2018 via
  7. "The Evening Independent - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  8. "Nelson Poynter Memorial Library". Retrieved 2016-06-26.


  • Pierce, Robert N. (1993). A Sacred Trust Nelson Poynter and the St. Petersburg Times. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida.
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