Our History

The American Press Institute was founded in February 1946 to improve the professional, leadership and technical skills of people in the news media. Sevellon Brown, the editor and publisher of the Providence Journal in Rhode Island, conceived the idea for a journalism institute to “fulfill the crying need for education and training in journalism throughout [a journalist’s] professional career.” The original founders included a group of 27 American daily newspapers and Editor & Publisher magazine.

The institute initially was an affiliate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, where Dean Carl W. Ackerman advocated for the proposal. For three decades, API trained thousands of newspaper leaders and journalists from around the world in seminars held at Columbia on all aspects of the industry, from reporting and editing to advertising and management. 

In the 1970s, API began searching for a new permanent home to accommodate its growing programs, and its leaders decided that Reston, Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., offered the space the institute needed with convenient access to the nation’s capital, a thriving journalism community and access to two airports. In 1974 API  moved to a new headquarters in Reston, Virginia, designed by famed architect Marcel Breuer.

Drawing of the old API building designed by Marcel Breuer

In 2012, the institute merged with the NAA Foundation of the Newspaper Association of America (now known as the News/Media Alliance) and relocated to Arlington, Virginia. The NAA Foundation had been established in 1963. The Breuer building was later sold and no longer exists, though records of it are available in the Library of Congress.

Today, API provides research, insights, tools, training and other forms of assistance to journalists and media leaders across the country.

What Drives Us

The United States was founded on the idea that a free and thriving press is essential to an inclusive democracy.

But our industry’s historic exclusionary practices and ongoing harms—combined with economic shifts—have contributed to a lack of diversity in news organizations, eroding trust in news and the spread of misinformation in the United States.​

For the health of our democracy, we believe the American press should be at the center of American life. Journalism has the power to connect and unify the American people.