WAN-IFRA program to support local journalism in Europe set to grow

In partnership with the Google News initiative

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WAN-IFRA program to support local journalists in Europe is set to grow

WAN-IFRA, the World Association of News Publishers, is launching round two of Table Stakes Europe in partnership with the Google News initiative. The one-year transformation and coaching program for regional and local news publishers will welcome twenty-four participating news enterprises, growing from fourteen in the previous edition. The sessions will start in October 2020 and publishers are invited to apply now.

Table Stakes Europe uses a performance challenge as the basis for participating news enterprises to identify and close shortfalls in their core digital capabilities. The new program is announced on the occasion of WAN-IFRA’s World Media Leaders eSummit. Funded by the Google News initiative in its two first years in Europe, it will provide an opportunity for twenty-four local and regional news enterprises to identify and make significant progress in addressing their greatest current challenges. The Table Stakes manual is for local news organizations, identifying what’s required to play and win the game of news in the 21st century.

The program runs for one year during which participants learn and develop skills and capabilities to improve not only their journalism but also their economics. Its unparalleled approach focuses on increasing skills and change management discipline within participating companies. The program is designed based on a proven methodology created by program architect Doug Smith, with teams benefiting from personalized coaching and mutual support provided by peer-to-peer best practice exchanges with colleagues from other participating companies and experts in different fields

“The results achieved in one year are a source of inspiration for all our members. The Table Stakes method provides universal solutions that can be applied anywhere in the world. I am particularly proud that WAN-IFRA can be part of making this work. With the dramatic effect of COVID, we are grateful to GNI for partnering with us to accelerate the process and make a difference where it is most needed,” says Vincent Peyrègne, chief executive officer, WAN-IFRA.

“The Google News Initiative is our effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age and supporting a transformational program like Table Stakes Europe is a perfect match with that mission. With the hands-on consultation, the program provides, the participating publishers are able to execute changes that drive new revenues and cost efficiencies. We hope that the focused approach will again create tangible results that not only benefit the participants but inspire other publishers in Europe and beyond. Google is proud to join WAN-IFRA announcing the Table Stakes Europe round 2,” says Eero Korhonen, head of News & Publishers, EMEA.

Program outline & outcomes

Launched in 2019, Table Stakes Europe welcomed the first fourteen European participating companies: DC Thomson Media (United Kingdom), Diari Ara (Spain), Diário de Notícias (Lisbon, Portugal), Edinet (Italy), EDN – Empresa do Diário de Notícias (Madeira, Portugal), Heidenheimer Zeitung (Germany), Henneo Media (Spain), Lensing Media (Germany), Medienhaus Aachen (Germany), NOZ Medien (Germany), Le Parisien (France), Le Télégramme (France), Le Quotidien Jurassien (Suisse), Südkurier (Germany).

The first Table Stakes Europe round will conclude in October. All the participants have expressed their wish to stay in contact through an ongoing alumni network. Here’s what they say about the benefits they got from the program

“Table Stakes Europe changed the way we approached our processes and products. We don’t have long discussions anymore, whether to start innovations or make changes. We did it easily and saw the results in most cases. We work in smaller units and are more target-oriented. It helped us to emphasize the importance of digital subscriptions to the whole organization. Even the most print-oriented editors realized that digital transformation is the only way to survive as a media company. Therefore all editors embraced new digital workflows,” says Andreas Müller, chief executive officer at Medienhaus Aachen GmbH, Germany.

“Table Stakes Europe has accelerated our development and given us a toolbox to increase our digital transformation. We’ve seen during the program development of the Digital Subscriptions and the NL’s performance (opening rate, CTR),” says Mélanie Monsaingeon, publisher at Le Parisien, France.

“Table Stakes has helped us gain subscriptions with new audiences, and we’re just at the start. It has also been a great motivation for our team. We see that our journalists have become the best ambassadors for the company’s project,” says Gilles Danet, head of digital content development at Le Télégramme, France.

“Three main things come to my mind when I think about how the Table Stakes program has helped us: we dare to work in a more agile way (“design – do”). We’re taking the audiences’ approach (with emphasis on the “s”), which is new to us. It has boosted the digital transformation we started before Table Stakes Europe,” says Philipp Ostrop, head of Product Development at Lensing Media, Germany.

“We entered Tables Stakes Europe with a big project to develop a reader revenue model in our group. We found in the program the help needed to create a good methodology for the successful launch of this new strategy. It helped us to get the active support of all the teams,” says Marta Algora Luño, Digital business & Reader revenue strategy, Henneo Media, Spain.

“By defining a shared Table Stakes challenge/mission, we solved some problems within the organization that we had in the past. Now, a large part of the company walks in the same direction. Doug Smith’s “toolset” hugely helped us to manage the change and – even better – created a shared methodology of doing things within the leadership team,” adds Julian Kögel, head of paid content at Südkurier, Germany.

The program builds upon the successful track record of an initiative funded initially by Knight Foundation and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and developed with major metropolitan daily news organizations in the US. It is meant to accelerate journalism’s shift to digital from print, help newsrooms evolve their practices, reach new audiences, and better engage their communities. Seven common themes have emerged to tie together the granular, specific table stakes for core work, workflow, roles, skills, technology, tools, organization, and culture. All are predicated on the belief that putting the audience at the center is the only and best way to deliver value.

Table Stakes uses a performance challenge as the basis for participating news publishers to identify and close shortfalls in their core digital capabilities, the so-called ‘table stakes’, an analogy to the money, or capacity, needed to have a seat at the take in a poker game.

Applications now open

Applications open on Monday and will operate on a rolling basis – so early application is an advantage! The program will begin in October 2020 and will run for twelve months.

More details about the program curriculum, eligibility to enter, and the application process are available at www.tablestakes-europe.org