The American Press Institute is an educational non-advocacy 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization affiliated with the News Media Alliance (formerly the Newspaper Association of America). The institute's mission is to encourage the advancement of news media; it conducts research, training, convenes leaders and creates tools for journalism. It describes itself as advancing "an innovative and sustainable news industry by helping publishers understand and engage audiences, grow revenue, improve public-service journalism, and succeed at organizational change."
The institute, founded in 1946, initially was at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism before moving in 1974 to Reston, Virginia It has been described by The Washington Post as the nation's "most venerable press-management and training organization." The institute's discussion leaders have included former Washington Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, and Pulitzer Prize-winner and former Poynter Institute chairman Eugene Patterson.
However, API's fortunes declined in parallel with those of American newspapers, which were once one of the most profitable businesses in the nation. The institute in early 2012 merged with the NAA Foundation of the Newspaper Association of America and shuttered its landmark headquarters. Starting in 2013, API's leadership led its transformation from a training institution to an "applied think tank," producing research, programs, events and tools that facilitate learning in the news industry mostly outside a traditional training model.
As of 2018, some of API's projects include:
As of January 2022, the center's incoming executive director and CEO is Michael D. Bolden, an editor at The San Francisco Chronicle and former managing director of the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford. Previously the institute was led by executive director Tom Rosentiel.