The Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media provides current and future media leaders with the tools and analysis to succeed in a rapidly changing environment.
The UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative helps advance media organizations through digital transformation and development of sustainable business models.
Knight Chair Penny Abernathy works with editors, publishers, press associations, nonprofits and journalism policy groups seeking to preserve quality journalism while creating a path to profitability.
UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative
The UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media (CISLM) is a proud partner in the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative. The yearlong program helps media organizations identify challenges and opportunities, as well as create sustainable solutions to survive and thrive in the digital age.
Susan Leath, the Center's director, leads the program, modeled after the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, which is a collaborative effort designed to help advance digital transformation at local and major metropolitan news organizations across the country. The program is based on the core principles used to create the Media Transformation Challenge (formerly the Sulzberger Program at Columbia Journalism School) that has helped approximately 250 participants deliver major performance and improvement to media organizations such as The New York Times, ABC News, the Associated Press, National Public Radio, as well as a number of local market organizations.
The yearlong program includes in-person meetings approximately every three months held on the UNC campus, during which participants work with expert coaches and update one another on progress with their performance challenges.
Coaches guide participating organizations through the program to reach the following outcomes:
- Provide a pathway, based on the principles modeled after the Knight-Temple Table Stakes effort that was piloted in 2015-16 with four major metro newspapers, to transform their media organization into an audience-focused, digital-first, market-leading and sustainable enterprise. (Learn more about the seven Table Stakes here.)
- Define specific performance initiatives that will significantly advance digital transformation and successfully achieve identified 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 chosen performance initiatives.
- Develop the individual skills and organizational capabilities needed to continue the work beyond the project, using the tools and methodologies of performance-driven change.
- Develop a peer network of news organizations to draw on shared experiences, approaches, tools, technology and other resources.
CISLM Welcomes UNC Table Stakes Cohort 4
CISLM welcomed the fourth cohort of the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative in a virtual convening Sept. 30 - Oct. 2, 2020. Fourteen media organizations from the U.S. Southeast are taking part in the yearlong program that focuses on creating sustainable solutions for media organizations to survive and thrive in the digital age.
Learn more about the cohort, which represents states from throughout the Southeast and the spectrum of the industry, covering news about the American South, Latino communities, sports, the Black innovation economy and more.
Recent Education & Outreach
The Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media (CISLM) and the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has announced the 14 media organizations participating in its fourth…
Several participants of the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative — past and present — were recognized at the recent North Carolina Press Association (NCPA) awards, in categories ranging from website excellence to best headline writing. Many of the media…
Whiteville’s The News Reporter adopts UNC Table Stakes’ digital-first mindset for successful transition
This Editor & Publisher piece profiles the digital success of The News Reporter in applying lessons learned from the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative. The 124-year-old newspaper in Whiteville, NC, took part in the 2018-19 cohort of the initiative.…
A key Table Stakes essential is partnering to expand capacity and capabilities at a lower and more flexible cost. Several participants of the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative are accomplishing this by utilizing resources from the Report for America…
This Better News piece profiles how UNC-TV — a member of all three cohorts of the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative — is building a new and larger audience by producing digital content while staying committed to its traditional…
This Poynter piece examines a newly launched Gannett feature called The American South. A Cohort 3 member of our UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative, Gannett launched the feature section to tell stories about the South from the South, exploring…