Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program

The Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program works for news organizations of any size ready to tackle critically important challenges and manage continuous change. Led by the American Press Institute, and developed in collaboration with some of the country’s most important news organizations, the initial year-long program helps news enterprises find a path to a sustainable future by teaching them how to change their practices, develop new products, reach new audiences and better engage their communities.  

Participants in the program learn the table stakes, key digital skills needed for news publishers to thrive in the digital era. They learn the tools of Performance Driven Change, a proven and unusually effective change methodology program developed by Douglas K. Smith. They learn how to use diversity, equity and inclusion to improve coverage, build engagement and reach new audiences.

Teams then tackle “performance challenges” crucial to their organization, which they execute on with these new skills over the course of the first year. Those challenges may address such issues as digital subscriptions, trust, new platforms or company reorganization, but they are developed by each participant. They learn key concepts of change management, such as the difference between activities and outcomes, and are disciplined in identifying how to conduct experiments and learn from failure. A key feature of the program is that teams are supported by expert coaches, who work closely with them on calls, in between sessions, and teach pragmatic concepts of strategy, innovation, organizational change and personal leadership.

Since its founding in 2015, more than 100 news organizations nationwide have participated in Table Stakes. The process is applied across several versions of the program at universities and institutes, each with their own specialties. 

Table Stakes is supported by the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund and the John S. Knight and James L. Knight Foundation.

Report on Table Stakes 2016-2019

This report commissioned by the Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism describes the progress made by the 16 metro newspapers that participated in the Table Stakes project between 2016 and 2019.

Additional Resources