Meet UNC Table Stakes coach Chrissy Beck

In December 2021, the newest group of Southeastern local news organizations will begin the UNC-Knight Table Stakes transformation program. In this program, newsroom leaders will define and tackle challenges using a performance-driven framework to craft innovative solutions. 

 In anticipation of the fifth cohort’s kickoff, the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media talked with each of the new coaches, independent advisors who will help guide the news organizations throughout the process. 

 Meet Chrissy Beck, one of our five coaches selected for the upcoming cohort. 

 CISLM: What is your day job, and what does that involve? 

Chrissy Beck: I’m the general manager of an independent college media organization, The Chronicle at Duke University. I like to say we are the original nonprofit news organization since a group of us went independent from our universities back in the ’80s. We operate completely differently than we did a decade ago, and I’m still loving it.  

Since we only have two full-time, non-student staffers (and two part-time independent contractors), I literally do a little bit of everything. My primary roles are fundraising, new product development, building relationships, and supporting board initiatives. There are days where I present to a group of Duke administrators, days I schlep papers/books/supplies across campus, and many days when I feel like a full-time counselor – I fill in lots of gaps. 

We have been fundraising for over a decade and are currently in the midst of launching a membership program. As a whole, we have been very successful at finding new revenue alternatives to print advertising.  

CISLM: Have you participated in a Table Stakes program yourself? If so, which one and what was your biggest lesson learned? 

 CB: I did and loved it! (Duke Chronicle) finished (the UNC-Knight Table Stakes Initiative) in 2020. So many lessons, but my favorite work activity now is sprinting! Sprinting will become very familiar to (Table Stakes participants) in the coming months, but it is a short, focused burst of activity that usually (but not always) provides a small win toward your bigger goal. You will constantly feel like you are moving forward no matter the goal. 

 CISLM: What are you most looking forward to in terms of coaching this cohort? 

 CB: My work environment – working with 125+ college students – is all about coaching, and I live for motivating teams. I am a huge advocate for the Table Stakes approach and feel like it is invigorating our industry; it is so nice to have some good news and hope after a long decade of distressing media news. I look forward to working alongside my new media friends and helping in any way I can.  

 CISLM: In our UNC Table Stakes program, we love to celebrate our wins, big and small. What’s your best win recently? 

 CB: We are working on a new membership program to complement our fundraising efforts. We signed up 71 new donors in a two-week sprint!