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Better News debuts as new resource to help news innovators learn, plan and do

Site also unveils Table Stakes Manual to help newsrooms accelerate digital transformation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Press Institute, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism announced the launch today of an important new digital resource to help anyone in publishing who wants to innovate and accelerate transformation.

Better News (betternews.org) 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 designed for a wide audience in publishing. Developed by the American Press Institute, it is a product of the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, which brings together leading newsrooms to adopt new mobile and digital practices with an intense focus on results, rather than just training and process. Better News includes among its resources the “Table Stakes Manual,” which explains the the core concepts underlying the Newsroom Initiative and can help any newsroom accelerate the shift to digital, evolve their practices, reach new audiences and better engage their communities.

The site organizes and explains information in ways optimized for practical execution — informed by change-management theory practiced in the Sulzberger Program at Columbia University and the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative. On the site, users can 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 site organizes and explains information in ways optimized for practical execution”

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.

A key component of Better News is that the site is 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. It launches today with 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.

Better News is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“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 staff of the American Press Institute oversee the creation and continued improvement of Better News, working with Tim Griggs, a consultant on digital strategy who previously was an executive at The Texas Tribune and The New York Times. The site technology was developed by digital agency 10Up. Other partners in the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative who contribute content and ideas to this effort include the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Douglas K. Smith, Quentin Hope, Charlie Baum, Temple University, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, and dozens of participating newsrooms, including the Dallas Morning News, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Bay Area News Group, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and 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 (betternews.org) 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.

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