Applications for Round 1 are now closed!

The deadline for applications was 1 September 2019 - we are now in the review process.

Please do get in touch if you’re interested in participating in future rounds of Table Stakes Europe. This opportunity is limited to a select group of leaders in local and regional newspapers who commit themselves and their enterprises to address the most critical challenges faced by themselves and the industry today – and to use the proven model of Table Stakes plus performance-driven change to succeed at those challenges.

The current Programme will begin in October of 2019 and run for 10 to 12 months.


All participants must be from Europe. In addition, and while we may make a small number of exceptions, the following are eligibility criteria.

We seek between 10 to 14 news enterprises from a minimum of two nations and hopefully 3 or more to participate in the Programme. These news enterprises will be:

  • Small to medium in size and publish daily or weekly

  • Serve audiences in local and regional footprints that are geographically-bound

  • Have reasonably good English language skills among leadership and staff

  • Either already have digital subscription offerings – or, are presently committed to put those in place soon

  • Are committed to building journalistic and financial success through delivering value to local audiences as opposed to cost cutting

  • Either are WAN-IFRA members – or will become members prior to the kickoff of the Programme

  • Might be part of larger corporations that have other small and medium local and regional news enterprises


The challenge-centric, performance-and-accountability change methodology uses a performance challenge as the vehicle through which participating news enterprises identify and close shortfalls in the core table stakes, the audience-first approach and digital transformation. Most change efforts fail because they violate a core principle: Performance results are the primary objective of change, not change activities.

Instead of falling into the change-for-the-sake-of-change trap, participants will identify and commit to success against a performance challenge that meets the following criteria:

  • One of the 2 to 3 most important challenges facing the enterprise

  • Requires the CEO/whole enterprise perspective: the challenge ought to take 12 to 20 months to achieve performance against the challenge

  • Something several to many people across the enterprise must contribute to

  • Closes shortfalls/gaps in the 7 core table stakes

  • Is behavior-and-skill driven; that is, performance success requires people to learn new behaviors, skills and/or working relationships

  • Is not “business as usual”

  • Is something news enterprise leaders and challenge teams will feel at risk about when they ‘go public’ – that is, openly commit themselves to success

  • Is “ripe” and credible: that is, it makes sense for the enterprise to take on this challenge at this time in light of local market realities, the enterprise’s strategy and so forth


Participating news enterprise leaders as well as challenge teams must commit themselves to the work required for success. While skepticism is okay in the sense of somewhat normal human behavior and, often, an admirable journalistic attribute, participants cannot succeed if that skepticism keeps them on the side lines instead of enthusiastically in the game.

Consequently, we will ask the top leaders of participating news enterprises to sign a commitment letter that spells out what is required. As one part of this, selected news enterprises agree to pay their own travel and travel-related expenses to the in-group sessions.

Once a challenge has been identified and defined, participating news enterprises are expected to name challenge-teams to own and deliver success against the challenges. These teams will likely include individuals from the newsroom, consumer-facing technology, and marketing, advertising and business.

In addition, though, and depending on the specific challenge selected, others on the teams might include high potential younger leaders; product and/or audience managers; and, folks who work at corporate centers in cases where the news enterprise is part of a larger organization.


Level of fluency in English of people across your enterprise?

Basic info including:

  • What kind of audience are you targeting?

  • Number of households in your market area?

  • Print-only subscribers, in 000

  • Print + Digital subscribers bundles, in 000

  • Digital-only subscribers, in 000

  • Digital audience, monthly unique visitors, in 000

  • Page views per visit

  • Time spent per visit

  • Traffic sources: Direct / Search / Social / Other as % of total

Describe the primary gaps in skills, roles, workflows, technology or other aspects of your enterprise that affect your efforts to be a market-leading, profitable, digital publisher

Describe what you see as the most important challenges your news enterprise faces – and to whom success at those challenges matter and why?

What current initiatives, if any, do you have under way that address these challenges?

What challenge might you choose to take fullest advantage of Table Stakes? (NOTE: your chosen challenge for Table Stakes can be be changed / refined later in the first workshops)


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