Local News Innovation

Poynter Local News Innovation Program: Year 2 (Table Stakes)

July 18, 2018
Teaching Date
Sept. 2018-Aug. 2019
Hybrid Online and In-Person
$2,500-$7,500 depending on size

Applications are now closed.

Want to increase your digital subscriptions, better engage your community, and focus on projects that turn your newsroom into an engine of revenue? Apply for Poynter’s intensive, hands-on and transformative Local News Innovation Program.

The newspapers that completed the first year reported serious results:

  • Increased digital subscriptions: The Statesman Journal increased digital-only subscribers by more than 70 percent year-over-year. The Post & Courier increased digital-only subscribers by 240 percent.
  • Improved engagement: The Louisville Courier Journal reduced story volume by 39 percent, but increased page views per story by more than 40 percent. The State Journal Register grew their Facebook audience by 10 percent, tripled the number of Instagram followers and had 20,000 podcast downloads.
  • Diversified revenue: The Beaver County Times created partnerships that led to 40 percent profit margin on events. Tyler Morning Telegraph launched an in-house digital services agency that is on track to achieve $350,000 in new revenue in its first year.

The Poynter Local News Innovation Program, part of the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, is designed to help your newspaper or broadcast news organization learn what it needs to do to make the successful transition to sustainable digital publishing and build a culture of performance-driven change.

But it doesn’t stop there: The Local News Innovation Program helps you actually make those changes so you can see dramatic results.

This intensive, yearlong program combines in-person gatherings, regular online group seminars and personalized coaching sessions to hold you accountable and help your entire organization succeed. You’ll also transform your organization alongside 19 other newspapers and broadcast news organizations of different sizes and from different regions; your cohort will serve as sounding board, motivator and source of inspiration. 

Learn more about this program in Poynter's Intro to Table Stakes online group seminar. This e-learning course features a series of five hour-long webinars you can replay at your convenience. But first, watch this testimonial from a participant in the 2017-18 program:


Program Details

In September 2018, the selected newspapers and broadcast news outlets will gather at Poynter for three days (Sept. 5-7) to dive into the seven Table Stakes for digital publishing, assess their gaps in meeting those requirements and identify specific performance initiatives to close those gaps. Throughout the year, participants will attend a series of online seminars and coaching sessions to help meet their objectives. The project will conclude at Poynter with a two-day gathering of all participants in the summer of 2019.

To qualify for acceptance to the Local News Innovation Program, you must first complete the "Intro to Table Stakes" online group seminar. Enroll here.

Upon acceptance to the Local News Innovation Program, a $99.00 credit will be applied to the tuition to reimburse the cost of the online group seminar. 

The Poynter Local News Innovation Program expands the reach of the Knight-Temple Table Stakes program, which enlisted four metro newspapers in 2015 to identify and make the baseline changes necessary for legacy newsrooms to compete and succeed in a digital environment. See our FAQ to learn more.

Program Goals

Poynter’s project brings together leadership teams from up to 20 news organizations for a yearlong effort designed to:

  • Provide a pathway, based on the seven Tables Stakes, for transforming your news organization into an audience-focused, digital-first, market-leading, sustainable enterprise.
  • Define specific performance initiatives that will significantly advance your digital transformation and successfully achieve your objectives over the course of the year.
  • Identify and address the underlying skill, role, workflow, technology and culture changes required to achieve the objectives of the performance initiatives you take on.
  • Develop the individual skills and organizational capabilities you’ll need to continue the work beyond the project, using the tools and methodologies of performance-driven change, as used in the Sulzberger Leadership Program of the Columbia School of Journalism.
  • Develop a peer network of news organizations that you can draw on to share and gain approaches, tools, technology and other resources in your mutual efforts to transform your organizations.

In short, Poynter’s Local News Innovation Program is challenge-driven. Your newspaper or broadcast news organization will define your own digital transformation goals, and then receive the tools, resources and support you need for your entire newsroom to rise to your challenge. See our FAQ for more.

Who Will Benefit

The Poynter program is open to all U.S. newspaper and broadcast news organizations, regardless of size, geography or ownership model. To be considered for this program, leaders in each organization must commit to full participation in the project.

Program Cost

The yearlong training and individual coaching sessions cost $2,500 to $7,500, depending on the size of your newsroom. 

Participants pay for their own travel, lodging, ground transportation, meals outside the sessions, and related expenses for the in-person gatherings. (The program pays for coaching fees, as well as for one dinner and all lunches during the in-person sessions.) The tuition is on a sliding scale based on the size of your news organization. 

Newspaper Organizations

  • $7,500 for organizations with a Sunday circulation exceeding 100,000
  • $5,000 for an organization with Sunday circulation between 50,000 and 100,000
  • $2,500 for an organization with Sunday circulation of less than 50,000.

Broadcast Organizations

  • $7,500 for market sizes of 1-10
  • $5,000 for market sizes of 11-25
  • $2,500 for market sizes of 26 and below

Digital-only Organizations

  • $5,000 - $7,500 for national focus, depending on monthly traffic
  • $2,500 for local or hyperlocal focus

We asked participants from the first year about the value of the program:

  • “The time investment and hard work definitely pays off. Make it happen.” - Shane Benjamin, The Durango Herald
  • “This will literally transform the way you view your job. It will guide your interactions with your staff, your colleagues on the business side and your decisions on how to allocate scarce resources.” - Lee Ann Colacioppo, The Denver Post
  • “I am incredibly appreciative of being a part of this program. This is not just about the big guys. The smaller papers can glean a ton of insight and ideas from the larger papers and use them at their own to create new revenue streams.” - Julie Wallace, The Chronicle-Telegram

The second year of the Local News Innovation Program will include more coaching sessions than last year, and you’ll be building off proven strategies pioneered by previous participants.

Applications will be open until July 18, 2018.

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