Director of Local News Transformation

American Press Institute (Arlington, Virginia)

Posted 4 months ago

The American Press Institute is looking for a Director of Local News Transformation. This person will manage the core elements of a change-management program that coaches leaders of local news organizations across the country toward rapid and continuous innovation.

The program managed by the American Press Institute is the Knight Lenfest Local News Transformation initiative, colloquially called the Table Stakes program. It brings together leadership teams from select local news publishers to provide coaching and peer learning that results in them solving essential challenges and gaining skills to lead the news industry toward a better future for years to come.

The Director of Local News Transformation will manage that program, with support from API senior staff and other supporting staff. The primary responsibilities are to manage partnerships among many stakeholders, to monitor and ensure the success of participating news leaders, to identify and integrate outside resources and experts, and to oversee communication strategies that spread the lessons of this program across the news industry.

The Director will also collaborate and coordinate with additional versions of this program at such places as the University of North Carolina, Arizona State University and the Poynter Institute.

API is a nonprofit organization based in Arlington, VA, that leads and inspires innovation in the news industry. Foremost, we help local news publishers grow and sustain their businesses by focusing on the audiences’ needs and behaviors.

Our team of about a dozen people come primarily from journalism backgrounds. The Director of Local News Transformation will work closely with API’s senior management and with API’s Director of Newsroom Learning, as well as other program and support staff across the organization. In particular, the Director will be supported by a deputy director of local news transformation being hired to oversee communications and coordination aspects of the program, and by a program associate who will help with logistics of events and meetings.

Ideal candidates for this job will have experience managing partnerships across different teams, organizations, and personalities. Candidates should have experience as a manager, preferably in news organizations, and some familiarity with organizational change theories or organizational psychology. Candidates must excel at keeping track of multiple projects and meeting deadlines. We are seeking candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences related to the news industry. And we are looking for someone who is excited about the role that journalism plays in a healthy society and democracy, and who wants to help us advance that cause.

Job responsibilities

The key functions and responsibilities of the job are:

  • Manage the core elements of the local news transformation program.
    • Help news organizations go through a year-long change management curriculum, developed in the current four-year-old “Table Stakes” program.
    • Coordinate with the coaches who teach in the program.
    • Set agendas for the coaching and learning activities that occur at each of the multi-day, in-person meetings of participating news organizations, taking into account the needs and requests of the coaches and participants.
    • Help manage the experience and continuing transformation at news organizations after they have completed the first year of the program.
    • Help new organizations learn about and enter the program.
    • Ensure the quality and impact of the program for participating organizations, and working with API and the Knight-Lenfest team to identify opportunities to grow or improve the program.
    • Manage the relationships with various stakeholders, including coaches, funders, advisors and participants.
    • Ensure all program activities are conducted within the defined grant budget, and overseeing the tracking and reporting of grant spending.
    • Serve as liaison to other complementary programs and activities also funded by the Knight-Lenfest Local News Transformation Fund, including a news technology lab at Temple University.
    • Ensure maximum oversight and information-sharing by attending all Table Stakes meetings, across all affiliated programs. In some cases, other API staff may attend on the Director’s behalf.
  • Coordinate information-sharing across current and former Table Stakes newsrooms, including more than 30 organizations who have gone through this core Table Stakes program and many more who have completed compatible programs operated by other institutions.
  • Supervise Better News (, the case study platform where anyone can learn from and emulate the “wins” and “best practices” developed in the program. This includes supervising the site’s freelance editor and curators who document “wins” and accomplishments of the partners in the program.
  • Help devise and supervise a communications strategy raising awareness and growth of the program.
  • Advise on selection of news partners to enter the program, with a goal of selecting news organizations whose journalism provides valuable benefits to local communities and who are equipped to succeed at their initiatives. 
  • Liaison with platform companies. The director will work, in collaboration with Knight and Lenfest, to ensure that platform companies such as Google or Facebook, understand the transformation program and support and complement it in whatever efforts they undertake.
  • Develop a website for the program, working with API’s senior management and the funders.

Experience requirements

We are looking for candidates with most of the following skills and experience:

  • Minimum 5 years experience in a management role, preferably but not necessarily in news, in a startup landscape or experience in change management thinking
  • Demonstrated ability in strategic thinking and creative program building
  • Demonstrated experience with developing new products or cultural transformation, and experience with or openness to design skills and human-centered design thinking
  • Excellent management and communication skills
  • Ability to work across teams and partners
  • Willingness and ability to travel frequently for meetings
  • Demonstrated ability to work with multiple program areas and internal stakeholders
  • Excellent time-management skills 
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Familiarity with the news business and current issues affecting the news industry 
  • Experience managing budgets or grants is helpful
  • Experience with performance-driven change theories or other theories of change management is helpful

This is a full time position with health benefits and 401k retirement plan, and a salary commensurate with skills and experience. Candidates must live in or relocate to the Washington, D.C., area and work from API’s office in Arlington, VA. 

How to apply

TO APPLY: Please send an email to, and include “Director of Local News Transformation” in the subject line. Include a resume, tell us about yourself and why you are interested in and qualified for this job, and attach any samples of prior work that may be relevant. Please include three professional references or be prepared to provide them upon request.

Job Features

Job CategoryAcademic, Communications