March 15, 2022

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 15, 2022) — The Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism, fact-checking and media literacy education, is pleased to announce the 14 news organizations selected for Table Stakes: Poynter’s Local News Innovation Program in 2022.

This is the fifth year of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation-funded and Poynter-facilitated initiative to accelerate digital transformation and sustainability in local news. More than 60 newsrooms across the United States have realized their performance challenges through Poynter’s program since 2017, while also adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, intensifying racial reckoning and ongoing business model changes.

Table Stakes partner programs include Major MarketArizona State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Poynter’s team of experts specialize in transforming small to medium-size news organizations, with a focus on family-owned, Black-owned or independent newspapers and public media organizations.

RELATED: What are “table stakes”?

Poynter welcomes its 2022 Table Stakes cohort:

AFRO American Newspapers, Baltimore

Participants: Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper, Publisher and CEO; Dana M. Peck, Digital Solutions Director; Rev. Dorothy Boulware, Managing Editor; and Diane Hocker, Media Sales Consultant

The AFRO American Newspapers and are trusted sources that provide readers with good news about the African American community not otherwise found in other news outlets. We need to sustain these efforts for another 130 years. The AFRO Team is excited to learn alongside our peers the proven tools and strategies to maximize additional digital revenue streams.

APG Media of Chesapeake, LLC, Easton, Maryland

Participants: Jim Normandin, President; Chad Campbell, Director of Circulation and Audience Development; Eli Wohlenhaus, Executive Editor; Jonathan Carter, Executive Editor; and Emi Bode, IT Support Hardware/Software Technician

We joined the Table Stakes program in order to better understand and engage with our audience.

APG Media of Ohio, Athens, Ohio and Waverly, Ohio

Participants: Emily Moore, Executive Editor; Mark Cohen, President/Ohio; and Patrick Keck, Editor

We chose to participate in Poynter’s Table Stakes program because we wanted to grow as a media group. We wanted to learn the new and improved ways of journalism and put those tactics into our own newsrooms. We chose to learn from the best at what we can do better.

APG Southern Minnesota, Owatonna, Minnesota

Participants: Randy Rickman, President; Philip Weyhe, Regional Managing Editor; Michael Hughes, Regional Sports Editor; Hudson Mrotz, Circulation Director; creative leads Kate McGillen and Kate Townsend-Noet; and associate editors Annie Granlund, Kristine Goodrich, Jordan Gerard and Pamela Thompson

We wanted to participate in this program to better understand and realize our long-term direction. We want to move beyond getting our daily tasks done and ensure we are working toward a larger purpose, helping to secure our long-term viability and a place in our communities.

The Atlanta Voice, Atlanta

Participants: Janis Ware, Publisher; James Washington, President; Richard Dunn, Chief Operating Officer; Chia Suggs, Advertising Administrator; Dawn Montgomery, Chief Brand Officer; and Stan Washington, Interim Editor in Chief

This opportunity afforded by the Poynter Institute represents a unique chance for The Atlanta Voice to become the best that it can be. To be able to participate in a collective of like-minded professionals and academicians facing similar challenges gives real understanding to the phase of ‘learning how to fish.’

Fort Worth Report, Fort Worth, Texas

Participants: Chris Cobler, CEO/Publisher; Trish Terrell, Chief Development Officer; Thomas Martinez, Managing Editor; Jodye Newton, Director of Corp. & Community Relations; and John Greer, Audience and Membership Director

As a young news outlet, we felt it was vital that our team work from the outset to incorporate the sustainable practices that Poynter has developed.

Grand Forks Herald, North Dakota

Participants: Korrie Wenzel, Publisher; Sydney Mook, Managing Editor; Tom Miller, Sports Reporter; and Maxwell Marko, Digital Producer

Our team decided to participate in Poynter’s Table Stakes program because we believe it provides our organization an opportunity to grow our digital thinking beyond our day-to-day discussions. We believe the program will help us take our ideas for audience growth from thoughts and considerations into real-life plans we can use to strengthen our media organization.

I Messenger Media LLC, Dallas

Participants: Cheryl Smith, Publisher/Editor; Stewart Curet, Vice President/General Manager; Valerie Fields-Hill, News Editor; Eva Coleman, Lifestyle Editor; Dorothy Gentry, Sports Editor; Stephenetta Isis Harmon, Digital Editor; Faizan Anwar, Production Manager; Editorial Assistants L.E. Brown, Jessica Hayden and Marva Sneed

We are trying to build an empire and have a significant impact in the industry. Poynter has been instrumental in making journalism better so we know we will benefit tremendously from participating in Table Stakes.

Jacksonville Today, a product of WJCT Public Media, Jacksonville, Florida

Participants: Jessica Palombo, Editorial Director; Ray Hollister, Digital Director; and Pete Havens, Local Journalism Business and Donor Relations Manager

Our new digital news offering, Jacksonville Today, launched in October 2021 as a weekday email newsletter, giving readers a concise rundown of top local news, along with original reporting, ways to get civically involved, opinion columns and more. As we build on our initial success, we are hoping the Table Stakes challenge tracking process will help us grow our base of subscribers and engage our audience in new ways, all while building a more diverse team within our newsroom.

Laramie Boomerang, Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming

Participants: Bill Albrecht, President APG of the Rockies; Tad Kilgore, Director of Audience and Distribution; Greg Johnson, Managing Editor; and Joshua Mann, Web Development and Marketing

Table Stakes offers us a unique opportunity to learn how to engage our readers beyond our traditional media. We look forward to gaining insights and learning from our peers.

News-Press NOW, St. Joseph, Missouri

Participants: Nic Stevens, Director of Audience/Subscriber Services; Jessica Dehaven, Managing Editor; Stacey Hill, EVP, COO; Hilary Smith, Director of Marketing and Brand; Chloe Godding, Digital Content Editor; and Steve Booher, Director of News and Content

We chose to participate in Table Stakes because we would like to improve our ability to define, keep and grow our audience to continue our nearly 177-year legacy of providing local news in Northwest Missouri.

Pamplin Media Group, Portland, Oregon

Participants: Mark Garber, President, Pamplin Media Group; Brian Monihan, Vice President, Pamplin Media Group; Aaron Breniman, Publisher, Clackamas Review; Jules Rogers, Assistant Editor, Portland Tribune; Vance Tong, Operations Manager, Pamplin Media Group; and John Schrag, Executive Editor, Pamplin Media Group

Like many legacy print companies, Pamplin Media Group has struggled through a Great Recession, global pandemic and shift in consumer habits. We know we must move to a model that puts our readers at the center of our journalism and revenue initiatives; Table Stakes gives us the tools and support we need to make it happen.

WFSU Public Media, Tallahassee, Florida

Participants: David Mullins, GM; Lynn Hatter, News Director; Patricia Moynihan, Digital Director; Kim Kelling, Director of Content; and Crystal Cumbo, Corporate Support

This program is critical in helping us reorient our newsroom on the importance of building our digital audiences. We know that growing audiences will translate to more members and better future outcomes for the station.

WGCU Public Media, Fort Myers, Florida

Participants: Amy Shumaker, Associate General Manager of Content; Corey Lewis, General Manager; and Pamela James, Executive Producer of Content

Our Executive team is leading our entire staff through organizational change to meet the changing needs of our audience. Poynter’s 2022 Tables Stakes program ensures that we will meet our goals and ambitions with greater ease and clarity. Poynter has been there before and we are happy to take their guidance.

RELATED: Sign up for Local Edition, Poynter’s newsletter for local journalists and newsrooms

These 14 cross-functional teams began Poynter’s Table Stakes program remotely in February, under the direction of co-leaders Kate Myers and Quentin Hope. They will continue to meet multiple times throughout the program year, including regular calls with assigned coaches. In addition to Myers and Hope, coaches for Poynter’s 2022 program include:

  • Glenn Burkins, Founder and Publisher,
  • Angela Evancie, Director Of Engagement Journalism and Executive Producer Of Brave Little State, Vermont Public Radio & Vermont PBS
  • Larry Graham, Coo, Diversity Pledge Inc.
  • Vicky Ho, managing editor, Anchorage Daily News
  • Tom Huang, Assistant Managing Editor For Journalism Initiatives, The Dallas Morning News
  • Katie Mercer, Director Of Social Media, Glacier Media; Vice-President Content, Local News Network
  • Lita Nadebah Beck, Equity Issues Editor, Arizona Republic

This level of accountability and guidance is part of the reason that transformational change continues after Table Stakes.

“Our #FactsArentFree team, which we formed and named during Table Stakes, still meets weekly to work on our digital subscription strategies,” said Liz White Notarangelo, publisher and executive vice president at the Record-Journal in Connecticut, which participated in Poynter’s 2019-2020 program. “We continue to use the skills we learned in Table Stakes and it set us up for additional opportunities, as we were accepted into the (Meta Journalism Project) Accelerator Program.”

Terry Williams, president and chief operating officer at The Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire, reported a similar experience. The teams he set up in 2019 and 2020 during Poynter’s Table Stakes program continue to meet today to increase the amount of online engagement at the 220-year-old paper.

“We ended 2019 at 1.4 million in circulation revenue. We expect to end this year at 1.8 million,” said Williams. “Now for us, we’re a small operation, that’s really significant growth for us. … I’m a huge advocate for Table Stakes. It’s been a game changer for us.”

Since the Anchorage Daily News participated in Poynter’s Table Stakes program — twice, from 2017 to 2019 — Alaska’s most-read newspaper has become a much more audience-driven operation.

“Going through Table Stakes helped us identify gaps within our organization so we could continue building out our team in a strategic way that makes sense not only from an editorial standpoint, but from a financial point of view as well,” said Ho, managing editor at Anchorage Daily News and one of Poynter’s Tables Stakes coaches for 2022. “And we’ve continued to embrace an iterative approach to various experiments or initiatives.”

Table Stakes also spurred Ho and her team to seek out partnerships to grow capacity. The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica were awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for a project called Lawless, focusing on sexual violence and law enforcement in Alaska. That was the result of a yearlong collaboration between the newsrooms, and the partnership with ProPublica has continued. It’s led to another project, Unheard, which is a deeply powerful example of reporting that amplifies the voices of survivors of sexual violence who chose to speak out.

Table Stakes is not the only transformational change program Poynter offers. Poynter has been home to the Media Transformation Challenge program, based on the same principles of Table Stakes but designed for individual leaders, since 2020. In 2022, Poynter is training 75 public media organizations through the Digital Transformation Program, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. These intensive programs are in addition to the custom teaching partnerships Poynter offers for newsrooms to catalyze change and solve problems.

LEARN MORE: Bring Poynter to your newsroom 

About The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at newsrooms, conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a digital information literacy project for young people, first-time voters and senior citizens. The world’s top journalists and media innovators rely on Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good. Learn more at

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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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