5 tips for starting a mentorship program, from The Seattle Times


Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Seattle Times’ successful newsroom mentorship program boosts staff engagement and contributes to professional development.

Newsroom mentorship programs can be an attractive strategy for local news organizations looking to increase staff engagement, support professional development and retain talented journalists. But where to start?

In March 2024, the American Press Institute invited Stefanie Loh, who co-leads The Seattle Times’ in-house mentorship program, and former mentee Amanda “Mindy” Ray to speak to alumni of the Table Stakes Local News Transformation Program.

The Times’ six-month mentorship program is a reboot of a mentorship program originally launched in the early 1990s and boasts strong participation, ranging from one-third to just over half of the newsroom taking part in a given cycle over the past three years. In the 2020-21 cycle during the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% of the newsroom participated.

Exit surveys demonstrate the appeal. For the 2022-23 program cycle, all survey respondents said the program was worth their time, 95% said it contributed to their personal development and 94% said they would recommend it to others.

Here are five tips for starting a successful mentorship program in your organization.

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