Helping Newspapers Put Digital in the Forefront and Reduce Reliance on Print

From an American Press Institute story about helping newspapers put digital in the forefront and reduce reliance on print:

The American Press Institute (API), a nonprofit dedicated to helping transform news organizations for an audience-centered future, announced a new initiative that will help guide newspaper organizations away from print models and toward a sustainable digital future.

The goal of this initiative is to ensure that the organizations that participate are prepared with a business model fit for the digital age. API will select no more than six news enterprises for the inaugural cohort of this program. The organizations will focus on the most critical factors around reducing their reliance on shrinking print revenue and creating new products and workflows that put digital at the forefront. The organizations will also receive coaching on the principles of diversity, equity and belonging from the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

The news organizations will build on the skills that they learned during their earlier participation in the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program, furthering their understanding of the tools and methodologies of change management. The funding for this program comes from an anchor donation by the Andrew and Julie Klingenstein Family Fund with additional funding from The Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, a joint initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

The program will touch on several aspects of the organizations’ business and news strategies, including:

  • an evaluation of both print and digital subscription models
  • an understanding of the print process and the resources it pulls across all departments
  • the reimagining of existing print products and the creation of new digital products grounded in the needs of customers and the community
  • an assessment of cultural, logistical and workflow changes needed so that all teams within the organizations, from customer service to advertising to editorial, contribute to the digital transformation effort

Organizations chosen will participate with a team of cross-departmental colleagues, with the goal of creating long-term buy-in and lasting change from all parts of the organization. Teams will be supported by expert coaches with diverse backgrounds and knowledge, and each team will have the opportunity to learn from one another’s challenges. Organizations chosen will bring unique perspectives to the cohort to enable peer-learning and support.

“At the heart of the sustainability challenge for local newspapers lies the question of product: What products of value can news organizations provide for their customers and communities?,” said Amy L. Kovac-Ashley, chief of news transformation at API. “With this program, we will help equip local newspapers to shift the core of their businesses away from print and toward digital products — which will help them serve the needs of their diverse communities.”

During the program, organizations will run experiments designed to test their ability to create sustainable digital models suited for the needs of their organization and audience. What they learn through these experiments will inform a comprehensive plan for a sustainable digital future.

For more information, please contact Emily Ristow, director of local news transformation, at [email protected].

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