UNC Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative is soliciting applications for second cohort

The program’s purpose is to help news organizations understand the “table stakes” required to survive the digital transformation and to help them identify and realize critically important performance challenges based on specific gaps and opportunities they face. (The term “table stakes” comes from the strategy-as-poker metaphor “what is required to even be in the game” as opposed to differentiators or “what it takes to win the game.”) These challenges relate to substantial, measurable gains in audience, engagement, revenue and other important outcomes.

The first cohort of the Initiative – comprising eight North Carolina media organizations, including traditional newspapers, commercial and public television, public radio, and a print and digital magazine – will wrap up their one-year program in April 2018. Due to the tremendous success and transformation achieved by the first cohort, the Center for Innovation & Sustainability in Local Media (CISLM) will host a second year of the program.

To expand the reach of the program, participation will be open to organizations in the Southeast region as well as North Carolina. Eight to 12 news organizations will be selected to participate in the yearlong program that will help them identify challenges and opportunities and create sustainable solutions to survive and thrive in the digital age.

The program is part of the larger Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, which is a collaborative effort designed and led by Douglas K. Smith to help advance digital transformation at local and major metropolitan news organizations across the country. The program also is based on the core principles Doug used to create the Punch Sulzberger Program at the Columbia Journalism School, which 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.

With a successful first cohort of newsrooms finding substantial, measurable gains in audience, engagement, revenue and other important outcomes, we’re looking for our next cohort. 

Quick hits:

  • The second cohort will begin their yearlong program in May 2018.
  • Eight to 12 news organizations across the Southeast will be selected to participate.
  • Our first cohort of the Initiative will wrap up their one-year program in April 2018 (Read about the cohort.)
  • Coaches Tim Griggs and Charlie Baum lend their years of leadership and industry experience and devote time for one-on-one meetings. Douglas K. Smith, project director for the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, will also be involved in the second cohort.
  • The deadline to apply is February 28, 2018.


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