Meet the newest cohort of the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative

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 cohort of the UNC-Knight Foundation Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative.

The Table Stakes program helps news organizations identify challenges and opportunities, and create sustainable solutions, to survive and thrive in the digital age. This year’s participating media organizations represent states from throughout the Southeast and every spectrum of the industry, covering news about the American South, Latinx communities, sports, the Black innovation economy and more.

The fourth cohort includes

Program participants will work directly with experienced media coaches. Tim Griggs and Charlie Baum return as coaches this year. Griggs is a media consultant with more than 15 years media experience, including work with The New York Times and Texas Tribune developing innovative digital business strategies. Baum is the founder of Starting Point, a consulting firm that helps businesses find success amidst change. Baum and Griggs will be joined by a diverse set of coaches, including Fran Scarlett of the Institute for Nonprofit News, Lizzy Hazeltine of the North Carolina Local News Lab and Cierra Hinton of Scalawag.

Evelyn Hsu and Martin Reynolds, co-executive directors of the Maynard Institute, and their associate Felecia Henderson will also be providing program content and coaching to participating organizations. Hsu is a former reporter and associate director of the American Press Institute. Before joining Maynard, Reynolds was a leader in the Bay Area News Group for nearly 20 years, where he was named Digital First’s Innovator of the Year for the Oakland Voices community storytelling project. He also conducts Fault Lines diversity training programs for media companies, as well as colleges and universities. Henderson, a highly accomplished journalist, is now the Table Stakes coordinator for Maynard.

This cohort kicks off Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2020, with a gathering of participants via Zoom to discuss the program’s approach, share current strategies and begin to identify challenges. Once a quarter, the cohort gathers via Zoom for two- to three-day sessions to update one another, interact with and learn from the other organizations, provide additional curriculum, and continue to work with your coaches and others with deep expertise.

“Our newest cohort joins us at an incredible moment in American history, where news organizations must find ways to grow and survive during a pandemic as well as thoughtfully report on the racial reckoning occurring in the streets in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis,” says UNC CISLM Director Susan Leath. “The organizations in our new cohort represent diverse communities with authentic voices, and we’re excited to see how they adapt to challenges in the digital age, in a country divided.”

The Table Stakes program is based on the core principles used to create the Media Transformation Challenge  (formerly the Sulzberger Program at Columbia Journalism School), which has helped media organizations such as The New York Times, ABC News, the Associated Press, National Public Radio, CNN and a number of local market organizations to achieve substantial performance outcomes. It also is part of the Knight/Lenfest set of “Table Stakes” programs known throughout the industry. The Maynard Institute also has become a key partner in helping media organizations address societal fault lines, both in audiences they wish to serve and their own internal skills, capabilities and culture.

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 knightfoundation.org.

About UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media

The Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and 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.