Digital transformation of major newsrooms focus of new Temple University project supported by $1.3 million from Knight Foundation

The Dallas Morning News, the Philadelphia Media Network and the Miami Herald to participate in the Knight-Temple Table Stakes Project

PHILADELPHIA – Oct. 19, 2015 – Temple University’s School of Media and Communication will launch a project that brings together respected news organizations to act as testing grounds for new mobile and digital practices with $1.3 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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Transformation project to help legacy newsrooms with digital transition” by Arlene Notoro Morgan, 10/19/2015

Three news organizations have signed on as participants in the Knight-Temple Table Stakes Project – The Dallas Morning News; the Philadelphia Media Network, which is home to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and; and the Miami Herald. Selection of a possible fourth newsroom is pending.

“The goal of the project is to position these newsrooms as learning platforms for an industry that is grappling with the cultural, technical and economic challenges brought about by a rapidly changing digital environment,” said Jennifer Preston, Knight Foundation vice president for journalism. “By bringing newsroom leaders together to tackle these issues, we hope the lessons learned will inspire more newsrooms to adopt mobile and digital-first best practices.”

Temple University will use a team-based approach to help the newsrooms identify and gather insights into the technology, workflows, roles and skills required in an increasingly digital and mobile world. The newsrooms will use these lessons to bring changes to their current processes and share their experiences with the field. The project is also expected to yield a set of online tools and templates designed to help legacy newsrooms speed up digital adoption. Experiences and best practices will be detailed in a comprehensive report. The project will provide ongoing coaching and begin helping other newsrooms implement lessons learned next year. 

“We are thrilled that Temple has been chosen as a partner for this project because of the potential impact it can have on helping newsrooms compete and be better in the digital age,” said Dean David Boardman. “Our students, our faculty and our city make us a great choice to help develop best practices to accelerate the digital transformation of legacy newsrooms.” 

The Knight-Temple Table Stakes Project will be shaped by industry and academic experts, as well as leading researchers in the field. It will be co-led by Arlene Morgan, assistant dean for external affairs at Temple’s School of Media and Communication, and Douglas K. Smith, a leading practitioner with wide experience in helping industries adjust to change. Smith, who led the development of the project, is co-author of bestselling books, “The Wisdom of Teams” and “The Discipline of Teams.” He is a former McKinsey & Company partner and co-leader of the firm’s worldwide organization practice. Morgan and Smith have worked with more than 200 new media leaders responsible for driving digital change as creators of the Punch Sulzberger Leadership program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Also involved will be Smith’s colleague Quentin Hope, a leading news industry expert; Tom Rosenstiel, executive director, American Press Institute; and Jeff Sonderman, deputy director, American Press Institute.

With Knight funding, the School of Media and Communication will also develop academic research for use in classrooms. The school will further gather insights from the project to use in college-curriculum design.

“This is a unique opportunity to examine how we teach students to meet the demands of a digital audience,” said Morgan. “The project will help produce solid research on how to sustain the value of news, no matter how and where it’s presented.”

The American Press Institute team will produce research and information for other organizations working on transforming their newsrooms from primary print to digital—focusing on developing best practices around mobile, audience development and analytics.

“This project squarely addresses the problems that have thwarted so many other efforts at innovation, which are usually cultural rather than strategic,” said Rosenstiel. “The project not only involves a broad approach and a deep commitment by several pilot newspapers over a sustained period of time. The research on best practices and new ideas that American Press Institute is coordinating will look well beyond the usual suspects and is a natural extension of our recent work on news audiences, data and analytics, mobile and social trends, and cultural change.” 

Support for this project is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to support local and regional news ecosystems, while helping news organizations establish long-term sustainability in the digital age through innovation and transformation. Knight has made many investments in this area, including the $5 million Knight Local Media Initiative, which has supported more than 50 organizations in developing innovations in journalism.

About Temple University School of Media and Communication

Temple’s School of Media and Communication (SMC) is one of the largest and most comprehensive schools of communication in the country. SMC is considered the Philadelphia region’s leading provider of media employees. The school enrolls approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and employs more than 70 full-time faculty members. The School offers cross-disciplinary programs in Advertising, Communication Studies, Journalism, Media Studies and Production, and Strategic Communication. The more than 20,000 SMC alumni worldwide include writers at national newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, top executives in organizations such as CBS News and Universal Music Group, winners of international communication and media awards including eight Pulitzer Prize winners, and scholars at top universities around the world.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit


Shannon McLaughlin Rooney, Director of Marketing and Communications, Temple School of Media and Communication, 215-204-3324, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]