CISLM (virtually) welcomes UNC Table Stakes Cohort 3 May 19-20

The UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media welcomed 13 media organizations this week for the third cohort of the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative. The initiative focuses on audience engagement and creating sustainable revenue streams during a yearlong program, which started with an Aug. 28-30 2019 workshop. The program runs through August 2020.

The participating organizations represent a variety of platforms—including broadcast, newspaper and digital—with teams of varying sizes, but they all face similar challenges in this disruptive digital age. They come from North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

Cohort 3 poses for a picture on the steps of the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media

The third cohort includes:

Participants will work throughout the year with coaches including Charlie Baum and Tim Griggs to identify their organizational weaknesses and opportunities through performance challenges to create solutions for thriving in the digital age. Baum is the founder of Starting Point, a consulting firm that helps businesses find success amidst change. Griggs is a media consultant with over 15 years media experience, including work with The New York Times and Texas Tribune developing innovative digital business strategies.

The challenge-centric and performance-driven change methods the coaches use to help participants move forward in their chosen goals are modeled after the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, a hands-on program for driving digital transformation in news organizations across the country.

This group follows a first cohort of eight media organizations and a second cohort of 10 media organizations.

One key element of the program is the collegial atmosphere that emerges as organizations learn from each other and work together on new ventures. Several partnerships have been built involving the organizations that have taken part in the initiative, including award-winning community college coverage by Education NC, an investigative news collaboration led by Carolina Public Press on North Carolina’s sexual assault convictions rates, and a joint fundraiser between the UNC student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel and Duke University’s student newspaper The Chronicle. There is also a series on mental health and the opioid epidemic in eastern North Carolina done by The News Reporter newspaper and Scalawag magazine. That series developed into a public forum that was recorded by UNC-TV for statewide broadcast.

The UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative has created partnerships among the UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, the American Press Institute and the Poynter Institute to add to the depth and impact of the effort.

About John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. The foundation invests in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. The foundation has a goal to foster informed and engaged communities, essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit

About UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media

The UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media exists to support established and emerging local news organizations through applied research on economic sustainability and entrepreneurship as well as innovative news and digital product solutions. The Center is funded by grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and UNC’s Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor & Provost.