Inland member newspapers picked for innovation initiative


Inland member newspapers represent more than one-third of the 21 news organizations selected to participate in the first year of the Poynter Local News Innovation Project, which is designed to accelerate digital transformation in local news.

The 2017 participants, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies noted, come from all across the nation, and include small family-owned newspapers and major metros such Newsday in Long Island, N.Y. The project is an outgrowth of the Knight-Temple University “Table Stakes” project, now renamed the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative.

Inland member newspapers selected for the project are the following:

  • Beaver County (Pa.) Times
  • The Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Ohio
  • The Durango (Colo.) Herald
  • Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World
  • Tyler (Texas) Morning Telegraph
  • The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C.
  • Reading (Pa.) Eagle
  • ​Sandusky (Ohio) Register

“The Poynter Local News Innovation Project, a three-year initiative funded by the Knight Foundation, will include in-person conferences, online seminars and personalized coaching for each of the 21 news organizations,” the Poynter announcement said. “Every news organization in the program will include senior representatives from both the news and business-sides in an effort to fuel innovation, collaboration and cultural change through all aspects of the operations.”

The announcement quoted The Durango Herald Senior Editor Amy Maestas as saying the program could be “a life saver” for some participants.

“Opportunities of this scope and length to work with Poynter’s first-class faculty and forward-thinking consultants have been rare in recent years, especially for local news organizations,” said Maestas, the editorial head of the smallest participant, with a daily circulation of 5,690. “So when I learned about the program, I knew immediately that it was one that, if we were chosen, will accelerate our in-progress digital transformation and do so with a targeted approach rather than a broad approach.”

Poynter’s part in the innovation project is headed by Butch Ward, who said the need for local communities to get “responsive, credible news sources” has never been more pressing.

“To deliver on that need, news organizations—especially in this very challenging business environment—must dramatically expand their capacity to compete digitally. This program can help them do that,” he said.

Ward is working with Douglas K. Smith, project director for the Knight-Lenfest Newsroom Initiative, and independent consultant Quentin Hope.