Thought Leader Summits

The American Press Institute gathers leaders from a variety of news organizations for one-day summits on focused topics of importance in the current journalism landscape.

Previous events have touched on the rise of sponsored content and creating distributed content plans that help achieve organizational goals. Another focused on how to make online news video work for the modern audience, as well as the company’s bottom line.

Each summit addresses the critical issues and potential solutions for evolving strategies around the day’s topic.

This often includes discussions around finding, measuring and retaining audience, as well as steps to growing new revenue streams and building an organization that effectively integrates new technology, community and revenue efforts.

Unlike a typical conference, API Thought Leader Summits are highly participatory and include only a few-dozen invitees. The day-long events treat each attendee as an active participant, sharing his or her expertise and experiences while gaining actionable insights from others. Participants are in for a day of peer learning, rather than being another face in the audience.

A larger goal of the events is to spread the best knowledge widely. After each summit, API distills the best insights into a practical public report.

Below are the practical resources, reports and other information from our Thought Leader Summits:

Truth-telling in the modern age: Strategies to confront polarization and misinformation
API’s June 2019 gathering will convene journalists and experts outside of journalism to explore emerging ideas about truth-telling in today’s digital, polarized age. Hosted outside the nation’s capital, the convening will consider insights into how people process new information, and what it might mean for journalists today.

Reimagining opinion journalism: Ideas for depolarizing public debate
In April 2019, API gathered innovators in opinion content, civil dialogue and audience development who are leading change around opinion and discourse projects in media. Hosted in Phoenix, Ariz., the program evaluated big and small steps opinion sections might take to help facilitate better public discussion in the communities they serve.

Building reader revenue for news
In May 2018, API convened news business leaders, product managers, editors and audience development specialists to identify ways to strengthen reader revenue models that support journalism. Hosted outside Washington, DC, the agenda included finding and converting audiences for digital subscriptions, organizational structures that best support newsroom- and business-side collaboration, and other topics. Follow API’s practical resources for reader revenue, building on these conversations.

Creating a culture of listening: Using dialogue to bridge divides
API’s first 2018 summit gathered community-minded journalists, editors and nonprofit leaders who are pioneers of listening and dialogue projects in journalism. Hosted at The Tennessean, the agenda included discussions on how to create organizational cultures of listening, effective strategies for facilitating dialogue among divided community groups, and other topics. Read the resulting report on how to build a culture of listening.

The rise of distributed content: Building sustainable platform strategies
API’s second 2016 summit gathered executives and editors responsible for platform-related strategies, including plans for Facebook Live, Snapchat, and more. Hosted at the Wall Street Journal, the agenda was based on feedback from participants, allowing the group to explore the practical and big picture topics they most wished to discuss in-depth. We later distilled best practices for building sustainable platform strategies.

Serving diverse communities: A new look at news, the public and engagement
In June 2016, API held a summit in association with Temple University’s School of Media and Communication. The agenda focused on information needs of a variety of communities and explored qualities of ideal sources in the digital age. The discussions were designed to inform strategic thinking of the American Press Institute and Democracy Fund, one of API’s funders.

Diving deep into mobile: Advanced conversations for modern newsrooms
In November 2015, API’s second summit on mobile news gathered innovators to push beyond the basic mobile-related topics that journalism conferences commonly rehash. The agenda involved small, in-depth discussions on issues surfaced by mobile-focused participants, and took inspiration from the event’s location: 1776, a DC-based global incubator and seed fund.

Cracking the code for effective product management
Held at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, API’s first fall 2015 summit gathered executives, product managers and other leaders responsible for creating and managing news organization products and services, ranging from mobile news products to advertising products to in-house tools. From that we distilled best practices for product management in news organizations.

Harnessing data in new ways to grow business and audience
API’s first summit for 2015 took place at the New York Times and gathered executives, strategists and data scientists at the forefront of audience development from leading legacy and startup news organizations.

Truth in Politics 2014: A status report on fact-checking journalism
Our first summit produced through API’s fact-checking project assessed the state of political fact checking following the 2014 midterm elections, previewed major research projects sponsored through API, and looked ahead at what’s needed to improve and expand fact-checking efforts during the 2016 campaign. A summary of the event is here.

Producing value and revenue with online video
API’s summer 2014 summit was hosted at NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. and gathered executives, managers and producers pioneering creative digital video strategies at both legacy and startup news organizations. We discussed how leading publishers were approaching video during industry change.

Unlocking mobile revenue and audience: New ideas and best practices
Hosted in association with Google, API’s spring 2014 summit broke participants into small working groups for focused discussion on how to make strong mobile news products based on audience data and behavior. We discussed and then later distilled the best lessons learned from current leaders in mobile news.

Understanding the rise of sponsored content
API’s fall 2013 summit was held in association with The Atlantic to clarify and inform discussion around the increasingly common revenue stream. We talked about sponsored content’s potential, definitions, ethics, and more.

For more information, contact Kevin Loker, API’s director of program operations and partnerships, at