The American Press Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to helping transform news organizations for an audience-centered future, today announced eight news organizations and six coaches selected for the 2021 Major Market cohort of the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program, an innovative yearlong change management program supported by the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund.

We are thrilled to welcome the following news organizations into the program:

  • Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico
  • Arizona Daily Star in Tucson
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution in Georgia
  • Bangor Daily News in Maine
  • Chicago Tribune in Illinois
  • Des Moines Register in Iowa
  • Hartford Courant in Connecticut
  • The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah

Cross-departmental teams from each organization will take on two challenges that are core to their businesses. The “table stakes” refer to key skills publishers of news must master to be “in the game” of news in the 21st century. The program employs a rigorous change management methodology that involves a team approach to a fundamental change. The organizations receive coaching on the principles of diversity, equity and belonging from the Maynard Institute and are also taught strategies in subscription growth, trust initiatives, platform expansion, organizational change and more.

“More than 100 news organizations have gone through some version of Table Stakes transformation program since 2015,” said API Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel. “Of all the programs focused on digital transformation, none I have seen has had the material impact of this intense, rigorous and unique system. We have seen companies double digital subscriptions in months, reset corporate goals at the board level, change the mindset of their operations and jump years ahead in a period of months.”

Table Stakes 2021 coaches
This year’s participants will receive expert coaching from the following news professionals (clockwise from top left):

The team coaches are being guided by two senior coaches, Quentin Hope and Eric Ulken. Hope has helped lead the program for several years, and Ulken has coached in multiple iterations of the program. This year, additionally, Fran Scarlett of Scarlett Ink Media and Mizell Stewart III of Gannett will serve as featured presenters in the program and will provide occasional support to the coaches.

The core methodology used in Table Stakes was developed by a team led by Douglas K. Smith and based on Smith’s Performance Driven Change Management methodology. The executive and enterprise coaching is a key part of the program and helps customize the program to its participants’ needs.

“Having the ability to grow and test new ideas and approaches with coaches who have your back is key to the Table Stakes experience,” said Roxann Stafford, the managing director of the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, a joint initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. “We are so fortunate to have a group of coaches that have a shared commitment to community, sustainability and equity.”

Coaches and teams will receive training and support from Felecia D. Henderson, Table Stakes coordinator for the Maynard Institute, as the news organizations examine their internal processes and create strategies and benchmarks to implement diversity, equity and belonging principles.

The teams will also be supported by News Catalyst, which developed the Table Stakes Challenge Tracker, a tool to help teams track their performance and connect with Table Stakes participants both past and present.

To learn more about the Table Stakes program, please visit or contact


About the American Press Institute

The American Press Institute advances an innovative and sustainable news industry by helping publishers understand and engage audiences, grow revenue, improve public-service journalism, and succeed at organizational change. It is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization affiliated with the News Media Alliance.

About the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund

With a focus on sustainability and equity, The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund is designed to strengthen local journalism at scale, by supporting journalistic excellence and serving the information needs of communities. The Knight-Lenfest Fund collaborates with news organizations, leaders and communities to grow capacity and meet journalism’s technology, business, and audience realities of the future. The Fund believes that journalism is at its best when it is of service. Founded in 2018, the Fund is a joint initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

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