Better News Screenshot

The site unveils the Table Stakes Manual, a project developed through grants to Temple University's Klein College of Media and Communication, to help newsrooms accelerate digital transformation


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American Press Institute, supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University, has created an important new digital resource - the Better News website -- to help anyone in publishing who wants to innovate and accelerate digital transformation.

Better News is a digital hub of best practices across a wide range of publishing challenges, from growing revenue and understanding audiences to building new products. Users can master everything from email newsletters to podcasts to advanced analytics.

The Better News hub is an outgrowth of the "Table Stakes"  digital news transformation project that is part of the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, managed by the Klein College of Media and Communication through more than $2 million in grants since 2015. The project brings together leading newsrooms to adopt new mobile and digital practices with an intense focus on results, rather than just training and process.

The Better News hub houses the "Table Stakes Manual," which explains the core concepts underlying the digital transformation initiative that was designed to accelerate the shift from print to digital, evolve organizational practices, reach new audiences and better engage local communities.

The site organizes and explains information in ways optimized for practical execution.  The digital newsroom project, which is underway at eight major metros and scores of smaller newsrooms, is based on the change-management theory practiced in the Punch Sulzberger Program at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, founded by Klein Assistant Dean Arlene Morgan.  Doug Smith, chief architect of the Table Stakes project, is the founding director of the Sulzberger program and a leading consultant in organizational dynamics.   Morgan is managing the Table Stakes project, now in the second of a four-year grant from the Knight Foundation and Philadelphia-based Lenfest Institute. 

The Better News hub enables users to first learn about a subject, exploring key concepts. Next they can drive into a "plan" for major strategic decisions they must make. Finally, they can move into the "do" section and explore the tactics, methods and case studies that have worked for others.

The American Press Institute formally unveiled the site during a workshop for editors at the American Press News Association convention in Washington on Sunday, Oct. 8.

The Better News site includes best practices and case studies curated from many sources around the web and publishing, as well as new and original content. That original content includes the stories and experiences of news publishing outlets that have been part of the Table Stakes project.  The Philadelphia Media Network, home of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com, has been part of the project since its inception in October 2015.

A key component of Better News is the design of the site as a "living resource" that will feature fresh and new insights and case studies over time, as publishers confront new challenges in a rapidly shifting media environment.

The site offers collections on subjects including newsletters, podcasting, story forms, live events, diversity, and newsroom analytics, and will be adding more areas of expertise in the near future.

People in the news industry can contribute new ideas, ask to add resources that are missing, and even seek additional help from expert mentors provided by the American Press Institute to help news organizations execute on change initiatives.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is funding the Better News site.

"Better News not only compiles in one place proven best practices for transforming publishing, it is organized for people to find exactly the problems they are working on and to add new case studies as they come along," said American Press Institute Executive Director Tom Rosenstiel. "Built by a diverse and talented team, Better News is a genuinely unique resource that will keep getting better." 

"Local newsrooms continue to confront a profound challenge: how to migrate - quickly, efficiently and effectively - to the demands of today's digital realities," said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. "Better News and the just-released Table Stakes manual are essential resources in meeting these goals, combining lessons and experiments from inside newsrooms with cross-sector research and insights from leading voices in journalism and beyond. We hope newsrooms across the country will use them as an impetus for change."

The American Press Institute staff is overseeing the creation and continued improvement of Better News, working with Tim Griggs, a consultant on digital strategy and former staff member at The Texas Tribune and The New York Times.

The site technology was developed by digital agency 10Up.

"We have been fortunate to be in the development stages of this exciting project," said Morgan who handles external projects for the college. "In time I hope Temple student media operations, as well as our journalism curriculum, can benefit from the findings in this project."

In addition to Klein College, the Table Stakes and Better News projects involves the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, project consultants Douglas K. Smith, Quentin Hope, and Charlie Baum, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the University of North Carolina's Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, and dozens of participating newsrooms, including the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, The Philadelphia Media Network, the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis, the Houston Chronicle,  the Bay Area News Group, owner of the San Jose Mercury, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Seattle Times.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN PRESS INSTITUTE

The American Press Institute advances an innovative and sustainable news industry by helping publishers understand and engage audiences, grow revenue, improve public-service journalism, and succeed at organizational change. It is the creator of Better News with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. More at americanpressinstitute.org.

ABOUT THE JOHN S. AND JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.