Creating an Audience-Focused, Digital News Organization: Intro to Table Stakes

Course Overview

Creating an Audience-Focused, Digital News Organization: Intro to Table Stakes
Online Group Seminar
Time Estimate:
The content of this course unfolds over five weeks. There are five scheduled meeting times of one hour per week. The rest of the content is asynchronous, so you'll be able to learn on a schedule that works for you.

Poynter members can save 20 - 25% on this course and all NewsU training. Learn more and join now.

About Online Group Seminars

In an online group seminar, you will gather with other participants in a virtual space, logging in from anywhere, day or night, over the course of several weeks. A faculty member guides the group through new material, moderates discussions and provides individual feedback.

This archived Online Group Seminar was originally available on:
May 15 to June 12, 2018

Completion of this online seminar is mandatory for any news organization interested in applying for Season 2 of the Poynter Local News Innovation Program. In this online group seminar, a faculty member guides the group through new material and moderates discussions.

When it comes to digital transformation, is your news organization spinning its wheels? Do your efforts feel scattershot or reactive? Has your search for a successful digital strategy resulted in one disappointing initiative after another? Is a sustainable digital future still eluding you after all these years?

Stop. This Poynter online seminar has the perspective and direction you need.

Over five Tuesday afternoons in May and June, we will introduce your news organization to the Seven Table Stakes of Digital Transformation. Drawn from poker, the term “table stakes” refers to what’s required just to “be in the game.” Here, it refers to minimum or baseline requirements for the "game" of digital news publishing.

These seven "Table Stakes" for digital news are based on direct work with over 30 news organizations and witnessing their efforts to grow digital audience and revenue. The strategies and knowledge drawn from their performance-focused initiatives are codified in Table Stakes: A Manual for Getting in the Game of News — the book on which this online seminar is based.

The first four sessions will provide an overview of each of the Table Stakes, including explanation of why it’s considered a Table Stake, strategies and tactics for achieving the Table Stake and case examples and tools from newsrooms working to achieve the Table Stake. The seven Table Stakes to be covered include:

  1. Serve targeted audiences with targeted content.
  2. Publish on the platforms used by your targeted audiences.
  3. Produce and publish continuously to match your audiences’ lives.
  4. Funnel occasional users into habitual, valuable and paying loyalists.
  5. Diversify and grow the ways you earn revenue from the audiences you build.
  6. Partner to expand your capacity and capabilities at lower and more flexible cost.
  7. Drive audience growth and profitability from a “mini-publisher” perspective.

The fifth session will provide an overview of the Poynter Local News Innovation Program, a year-long initiative in which 20 news organizations work to achieve defined performance challenges to fulfill the Table Stakes and share their progress and learnings with groups of peers.

The second round of the program will be starting in September with participants chosen through a competitive application process. This introduction will cover the benefits, structure, expectations and requirements of participation in the program.

It will also provide an overview of the methodology and tools of “Performance-Driven Change,” the approach used in working with program participants to drive the needed cultural and behavioral changes required to reach the seven Table Stakes and achieve actual performance gains in digital audience growth, engagement and revenue.

Live Events

  • Tuesday, May 15, from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern
  • Tuesday, May 22, from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern
  • Tuesday, May 29, from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern
  • Tuesday, June 5, from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern
  • Tuesday, June 12, from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern
What Will I Learn:

Participants in this course will learn methods for developing a robust digital publishing strategy.

Who should take this course:

This online group seminar is open to all newspaper organizations, regardless of size or geographic location.

Note, however, that participation in all five sessions is required of any news organization considering applying for the second round of the Poynter Local News Innovation Program, which begins in September.

(The application process for the Poynter Local News Innovation Program will open in early June.)

Course Instructors:

Quentin Hope

Quentin Hope is an independent consultant with over 30 years of experience serving clients across a broad range of industries and organizations in the areas of strategic alignment, organization design, organization effectiveness and change management. He also has extensive experience in public media and digital media management and consulting. His consulting experience includes 13 years with McKinsey & Company as a senior engagement manager, organization specialist and senior fellow with firm’s organization design practice.

Cheryl Carpenter

Cheryl Carpenter is the leadership faculty at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg. She was the managing editor of the Charlotte Observer before joining Poynter. She has taught coaching in McClatchy newsrooms and has taught leadership and management courses at the Poynter Institute and the Institute for Advancement in Journalism in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Kristen Hare

Kristen Hare is the local innovation reporter at Poynter. She previously worked as a staff writer with the St. Louis Beacon and as a features writer with the St. Joseph News-Press. Before that, Kristen spent two years in Guyana, South America, with the Peace Corps. Her stories have earned national honors, including the Darrell Sifford Memorial Prize in Journalism from the University of Missouri and first place wins from the Society for Features Journalism. Kristen lives outside Tampa, Fla., with her family.

Training Partner:

Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote community engagement and lead to transformational change.