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A Word of Thanks to TAB’s Friend Al Tompkins

For the last 25 years or so, newsrooms across the U.S. have benefitted from the expertise and guidance of Al Tompkins, Senior Faculty for Broadcast and Online at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies.

TAB first became aware of Tompkins through joint workshop projects with RTDNA starting about 2005.

Those working in Texas newsrooms met Tompkins as attendees at Poynter training sessions in Florida and later as attendees of TAB newsroom workshops in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

Al also presented several online newsroom training sessions for TAB over the years, the most recent being a series of four sessions he did this past fall which are posted in the Members section of

Prior to teaching at Poynter, Tompkins spent nearly 30 years working in Kentucky and Tennessee newsrooms as a reporter, photojournalist, producer, investigative reporter, head of special investigations and news director.

He joined Poynter to help journalists and newsroom leaders develop their storytelling, critical decision-making, newscast producing, ethical decision-making, and enterprise journalism skills.

He’s done so in person, online and in print.

For the last 12 years or so, he’s written The Morning Meeting online column which has given newsrooms multiple ways to explore important stories of the day.

He found time to write "Aim for the Heart," a textbook about multimedia storytelling now in its third edition that has been adopted by more than 100 universities worldwide.

In late February, Poynter announced Tompkins was retiring March 31.

He may still do an occasional workshop, but he will no longer be a member of the full-time faculty at Poynter.

The news hit rather hard for those of us who have enjoyed his presence as a teacher, mentor, guide, and friend.

Al took time to say a brief farewell in last Friday’s Morning Meeting column, telling his journalist friends around the world, “thank you for doing what you do” and imploring them to “take better care of yourself.”

Speaking of which, one of those recent archived sessions available online for TAB member stations,  features Tompkins and his licensed therapist wife Sidney, in a workshop they developed for journalists to recognize and mitigate the impacts of trauma and stress.

Tompkins has done an extraordinary job of raising the bar of local broadcast journalism. 

We cannot think of another newsroom trainer who has had the kind of impact Tompkins has had on U.S. broadcast newsrooms over the past two decades.

When Al wasn’t available for a TAB workshop due to a scheduling issue, he always had wonderful recommendations for other newsroom trainers not on TAB’s radar.

We met journalists Boyd Huppert, Brendan Keefe, and Les Rose through Tompkins.

Al also always had great ideas for session topics over the years and has been relentless about addressing current newsroom needs.

We at TAB want to say, “thank you” to Al Tompkins for being a self-less, energetic, enthusiastic, and skilled booster of good journalism.

It has been our great joy to have you in Texas helping our state’s journalists hone their skills and we wish you well in your next chapter!

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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