The American Press Institute awarded grants to six news organizations participating in the product development sprint for alumni of the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program. Each participating organization received $5,000 to support products developed in the program. 

Since February, the cohort has been learning from top news product thinkers through a program designed in collaboration with News Product Alliance. The teams conducted audience research to surface problems their communities face, developed prototypes to test their concepts and conducted user research to improve those prototypes. The grants will support the launch and maintenance of their products.

“Over the past several months, these organizations learned the fundamentals of product development and used that knowledge to build products that would help their communities,” said Emily Ristow, API’s director of local news transformation. “We are pleased to be able to help them launch and maintain these products through these grants and continued coaching.”

Each organization received funding to support the following products:

  • Arizona Daily Star’s “Wildcaster Live” virtual chat platform that will connect audiences directly with its sports journalists
  • Bangor Daily News’ online merchandise store, which will feature BDN-branded products as well as goods from Maine artisans
  • The Chattanooga Times Free Press’ “What to Eat Next,” a weekly paid newsletter focused on Chattanooga’s vibrant food scene
  • The Keene Sentinel’s expansion of its “Invisible Illness” podcast, which is part of its Monadnock Region Health Reporting Lab, to include videos to appeal to younger audiences
  • Sumter Item’s “Next Generation” content vertical that will highlight high-achieving high-schoolers outside of sports 
  • Times Union (Albany, NY)’s climate vertical that contextualizes data from its partnership with New York State’s Mesonet weather system

Additionally, each organization will continue to receive coaching from product experts Shannan Bowen, Nation Hahn, Nunzio Michael Lupo and Eric Ulken.

“The sprint helped us sharpen our idea for a food newsletter and test it with research in our market. The feedback from people in our community, combined with advice we received from seasoned product experts, was invaluable and helped shape the newsletter, which is designed to cover our city’s growing and vibrant food scene,” said Alison Gerber, editor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “The grant will help market the newsletter and make sure we reach people in the Chattanooga region who love food.”

The sprint program and grants are funded by 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.

For more information, please contact Emily Ristow at If you are interested in potentially participating in a similar program, please fill out this form.  

About the American Press Institute

The American Press Institute helps develop, support and sustain healthy local news organizations with a focus on civic discourse and democracy; culture and inclusion; community engagement and trust; and revenue and resilience. We believe that for democracies to thrive, people need accurate news and information about their communities, the problems of civil society and the debates over how to solve them. That requires a financially sustainable free press that reflects the diversity of American society and understands the needs of its communities. API is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization affiliated with the News Media Alliance.

About the News Product Alliance

News Product Alliance is a community of support and practice for news product thinkers. Its mission is to elevate the discipline of news product management and expand the diversity of news product thinkers in decision-making roles. It believes news product thinkers — those with the ability to strategically align business, audience and technology goals while integrating journalism ethics — are key to building sustainable and ethical news organizations.

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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