Support will enable program to serve more diverse communities with essential products and help journalists adapt to a changing field

The American Press Institute (API) today announced a $1.65 million grant from The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund to continue API’s management of the core activities of the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program through 2023. 

The Table Stakes program advances innovations in local journalism through intensive change-management training for news leaders. The program has a proven track record of helping news organizations build foundations for sustainable futures in the digital age.

“We are so pleased to be able to continue this important and vital program for local news organizations,” said Amy L. Kovac-Ashley, executive vice president and chief of news transformation. “This additional funding will allow us to lean into some of the most existential questions around serving communities and creating essential products, all while equipping more people doing the work of journalism to adapt to the ever-changing media landscape.”

API will continue to partner with the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education to emphasize diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) as part of the Table Stakes programming. Transforming the internal cultures and business practices of news organizations is crucial to serving the whole of their communities and critical to ensuring long-term sustainability. 

“It is exciting to continue our partnership with API and to push hard for news outlets to infuse equity and belonging into their efforts to transform,” said Maynard co-executive director Martin Reynolds. “This can’t be an aside or a ‘nice-to-have.’ Our nation needs news outlets that truly reflect the diversity of our nation and our world. This grant will enable us to continue to work with them to make this vision a reality, one newsroom at a time.”

In 2019, The Knight-Lenfest Fund, a joint initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, awarded API a $3.3 million grant to manage and expand the Table Stakes program. The funding announced today will continue to build on that momentum and will help news organizations put a laser focus on building audiences through new suites of products and creating new lines of revenue. These efforts will include:

  • updating the Table Stakes offerings for changing business models, product development and to further center DEIB principles;
  • training and supporting a larger and more diverse team of new coaches for all versions of the program;
  • supporting the Better News website, where learnings from Table Stakes are published as case studies that detail the strategies used to achieve success;
  • providing new programming to support alumni organizations through sprints on themes identified by alumni as areas they most need to improve such as digital subscription growth and retention, engaging with and serving diverse communities, and product development. 

“We are proud to continue partnering with and supporting the Table Stakes program and extended community of news leaders, coaches and alumni,” said Knight-Lenfest fund director Diana Lu. “The program has continued to evolve and adapt to an audience-centric approach and respond to the critical needs of news leaders and the communities they serve. This includes diversifying revenue streams and audiences, addressing equity in tandem with business sustainability, and fostering a culture of care for journalists.” 

The nearly 170 Table Stakes alumni organizations that have learned the tools and frameworks for managing change are poised to dig deeper on the most pressing issues the local news industry faces. In 2022, API’s Table Stakes programming will focus on advancing the work of these alumni organizations. 

News Catalyst, which provides news organizations with digital tools, fosters collaboration and promotes experimentation, will support teams with product development initiatives. News Catalyst is also funded and supported by the Knight-Lenfest Fund.

Table Stakes was founded in 2015 to support major metro newspapers. Since then, other iterations of the program, which are funded separately, have been created in partnership with the University of North Carolina, the Poynter Institute, and Arizona State University. The core methodology used in Table Stakes was developed by Douglas K. Smith based on his 30-plus years experience with performance-driven change.

For more information, please contact Emily Ristow, director of local news transformation, at

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. It believes that journalism is at its best when it is of service. The Knight-Lenfest Fund is a joint venture of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

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