October 5, 2021

Updated May 6, 2022

Over the last five years, Poynter has become the destination for newsrooms seeking transformational change as they transition to sustainable, digital publishing.

Poynter brings its decades of experience in training newsroom leaders and its leading-edge e-learning platform to two distinct performance driven change initiatives — each with deadlines coming up:

  1. Table Stakes: Poynter’s Local News Innovation Program. This is part of the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative. Poynter has delivered this training to more than 60 newsrooms since 2017. The deadline to apply for the 2022 program is Oct. 31, 2021.
  2. The Media Transformation Challenge (MTC) Program: A Poynter Institute Executive Fellowship. This program operated as the original Punch Sulzberger Program at Columbia for 12 years, but has been housed at Poynter since 2020. The MTC alumni network consists of more than 325 media executives. The deadline to apply for the 2023 program is Dec. 2, 2022 (a conversation with program director Charlie Baum is required first).

If you’re a senior leader in your media organization wondering which program is the right fit for you and your enterprise, this guide can help you decide.

Are you seeking to invest in personal career development?
MTC might be the right program for you. Unlike the other two programs that involve group participation, this program is specifically designed to support individual executives as they lead transformational change in their enterprise. With help from highly experienced coaches — including executive director Charlie Baum — and deep ties to your peer group, you will learn how to build your own leadership capacity as you actually lead the accomplishment of your challenge. MTC Fellows come from a variety of media outlets, ranging from wire services and broadcasting networks to start-ups and journalism associations.

Are you part of a leadership team at an independent local newspaper or media group?
Table Stakes is likely your best bet. You and the senior leadership team at your organization will join a cohort of other newspapers, public media stations and digital news sites for accountability and inspiration. Similar organizations that participated in Poynter’s 2021 Table Stakes program include The Washington Informer, The Houston Defender, The West Central Tribune, The Redding Record Searchlight, The Observer Media Group, Richner Communications and Wick Communications.

Are you a founder?
If it’s mostly just you, MTC at Poynter is probably your best bet. MTC Fellows from the 2021 program include founders Becca Aaronson of News Product Alliance, Margaret Coker of The Current and Madeleine Bair of El Tímpano. If you have a team and have been around for a while, Table Stakes could also help you achieve your goals.

Are you in leadership but not at the most senior level?
Poynter has other upcoming leadership training for you:

  • Lead with Influence — for women and nonbinary people with big responsibilities but no direct reports. Save the dates for the next iteration of this online program: March 7-28, 2022.
  • Leadership Academy for Diversity in Media (2022) — for journalists of color in leadership roles. The application is open from Nov. 15, 2021, to Jan. 15, 2022.
  • Essential Skills for Rising Newsroom Leaders — for new managers of all genders and races. Save the dates for this Washington, D.C.-based program: March 21-25, 2022.

Subscribe to Poynter’s Weekly Training Digest to be the first to know about all new training opportunities.

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Mel Grau is the senior product specialist at The Poynter Institute, focusing on Poynter's training experiences and newsletters. She previously edited The Cohort, Poynter’s biweekly…
Mel Grau

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