Nelson Poynter

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Nelson Poynter (1903–1978) was an American publisher. He was born in Sullivan, Indiana, in 1903. His family moved to Florida nine years later when his father 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 in 1927.

He 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. 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.

He established the Poynter Fund in 1954 to honor his father. He gave generously to his two alma maters to enrich their journalism programs. His most lasting legacy was to establish the Modern Media Institute which was renamed the Poynter Institute after his death in 1978. 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). 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.


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