(Sept. 16, 2020) — Local Media Association today named 16 news organizations that will participate in the first six-month lab from its Center for Journalism Funding.
The Center for Journalism Funding, operated by LMA with support from the Google News Initiative, aims to strengthen the understanding and capabilities of local news organizations regarding fundraising programs and working with philanthropic organizations to support journalism projects.
The lab has two goals: drive at least $2.25 million in funding for journalism projects for the 16 publishers combined, and publish an extensive industry playbook on funding journalism through philanthropy.
Many local news organizations are interested in learning how to match journalism projects with funders in their markets. The Seattle Times, the industry leader in this space, has been hired to provide the faculty for the lab and develop the curriculum. LMA’s chief innovation officer, Frank Mungeam, will lead the lab and coach the 16 participants, which include:
- Afro American Newspapers
- AL DÍA
- Anchorage Daily News
- The Aspen Times (Swift Communications)
- Atlanta Journal Constitution (Cox Enterprises)
- Block Club Chicago
- Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Adams Publishing Group)
- Detour Detroit
- Nogales International (Wick Communications)
- The Sacramento Observer
- Tampa Bay Times (Times Publishing Company)
- The Post and Courier
- Sun Herald (McClatchy)
- The Times Picayune/The Advocate
- Washington City Paper
A total of 53 companies applied to participate in the lab. The judging committee consisted of LMA and Seattle Times staff members.
“These newsrooms have a strong vision for how philanthropy could support important local journalism,” said Frank Mungeam, newly appointed chief innovation officer of LMA. “Philanthropy can be an important pillar in a transformed business model for local news, especially as a way to fund critical coverage beats.”
Philanthropic support for journalism was identified by the LMA’s Accelerate Local as one of the biggest opportunities for local news and one of its three core pillars for 2020 in helping newsrooms grow their business.
“We had 53 outstanding applications for this lab which made it very difficult to decide on the final 16,” said Nancy Lane, LMA chief executive officer. “We selected companies that were largely family-owned, with strong local leadership who were investing in their newsrooms. There were some fantastic applications that did not make the final cut. Our commitment to all of the applicants is to share our lessons learned every step of the way and publish a playbook that will help everyone in the industry win in this space.”
The Center for Journalism Funding will build on other efforts to provide funding to an industry challenged by a major drop in advertising caused by the coronavirus. Already this year, Local Media Foundation launched the COVID-19 Local News Fund, which helped more than 225 publishers raise $1.6 million to support their coverage of the pandemic. Other funds have also been announced, including The Fund for Black Journalism, which seeks $25 million to reimagine the Black press, and the Fund for Local Journalism, which seeks to raise $10 million over three years to fund 1,000 local investigative reporting projects.
LMA’s work in this area started in early 2019 and was fast-tracked in the fall, when LMA was awarded $300,000 from GNI’s Innovation Challenge to create NewsFuel, a platform that matches funders with journalism projects. The platform launched Aug. 19.
Here’s more about the participants and what they have to say about joining the Center for Journalism Funding lab.
Jessica Dortch, national and local news editor, Afro-American Newspapers
“I am thrilled and delighted that the AFRO was chosen to be a part of this collaborative. As the project manager for my team, I look forward to learning more ways to support our newsroom and ultimately make a greater impact on our community.”
Hernán Guaracao, founder and CEO, AL DÍA
“Through this exceptional LMA program, philanthropy finally has the great opportunity to impact the future of journalism in the short term, and in a very concrete way, by making what are today the most diverse newsrooms in America stronger. LMA included in this program truly diverse newsrooms found in independent news organizations across America, and we are thrilled AL DÍA is one of those selected for this first year. We congratulate LMA’s leadership for its vision of creating this much-needed Lab for Journalism Funding.”
David Hulen, editor, Anchorage Daily News
“We’re thrilled to be participating. We are heavily focused on producing strong, relevant work and making our organization sustainable into the future — the two go hand in hand — and this is a natural next step for us. We can’t wait to get rolling.”
Samantha Johnston, publisher, The Aspen Times (Swift Communications)
“Innovation in business strategy isn’t just a goal as we navigate 2020 and beyond, it’s necessary for our survival. For an industry that has been in peril for decades, now is the time to challenge ourselves to deepen our connections with our audiences and form stronger connections with the people and companies who believe in our mission enough to help fund it.”
Nunzio Michael Lupo, senior director/emerging product and experimentation, Atlanta Journal Constitution (Cox Enterprises)
“We are excited to participate in this program, which recognizes that the support of quality journalism is of vital interest to all segments of a community.”
Maple Walker Lloyd, director of development and community engagement, Block Club Chicago
“We hope this lab will provide us with the needed tools and resources to continue generating revenue in the philanthropic space, while working alongside other local newsrooms to successfully accomplish this objective.”
Ashley Woods Branch, CEO of Detour Media, LLC
“The LMA journalism funding lab is helping level the playing field for local news upstarts like Detour Detroit, by sharing the secrets and strategies needed to develop sustainable partnerships with funders and underwriters.”
Manuel C. Coppola, managing director, Nogales International (Wick Communications)
“It’s exciting to participate in a project to proactively map out alternative newspaper funding through philanthropy. Never has the threat to our industry been so formidable. What I hope to learn from this endeavor is how to effectively tap into an additional source of support to ensure our mission of providing local professional journalism remains secure.”
Liz White, publisher, Record-Journal
“We are excited to gain a deeper understanding of how to find alternate sources of funding as our business model dramatically changes. The Lab for Journalism Funding will provide guidance and structure as well as a collaborative atmosphere for easy and fast idea-sharing amongst participating companies. We are looking forward to learning from various community funders and leaders, raising awareness of our industry’s and our company’s rapidly changing business model, and raising a significant amount of funding to help the long-term sustainability of our company, while also sharing success stories quickly with our peers so they can implement any best practices we learn as well.”
Larry Lee, president and publisher, The Sacramento Observer
“We are very excited to have been included in the Lab for Journalism Funding. This is a critical time for communities and corporations to support local news as we do the important work of helping our country be its best. We look forward to learning as much as we can about how we can build models to improve the work we are doing.”
Conan Gallaty, president, Times Publishing Co.
“The Tampa Bay Times is honored to be part of this initiative to support newsrooms through philanthropy. We hope these practices will be honed and adopted by other newsrooms across the country to ensure the future of objective local news reporting.”
Mark Adams, CEO, Adams Publishing Group
“Our journalistic efforts across APG are focused on our communities. In many cases, we are the only local source of news and information available, and we are committed to doing everything possible to preserve that important element of our democracy. We are excited to work alongside our peers to develop new sources of community funding that will allow us to continue to serve our friends and neighbors in markets across the country.”
P.J. Browning, president and publisher, The Post and Courier
“We believe we can learn so much by being a part of this initiative. We have a “Projects” reporting team of 5 senior journalists that do some incredible in-depth reporting. From coastal flooding to education in South Carolina, we are committed to bringing the challenges, information and knowledge to our readers. To be a part of this effort and to learn how to harness the passion of readers and donors to support the many projects we don’t have the money to support would be incredible.”
Blake Kaplan, executive editor and general manager, The Sun Herald (McClatchy)
“We are so excited to be selected for this program. We are anxious to learn all the latest thinking about funding local journalism. Our company will be in a better place with all the knowledge we will gain.”
Martha Carr, managing editor, The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate | NOLA.com
“Our goal is simple: We want to learn how to convince major funders that supporting a vibrant press in Louisiana is as an important a philanthropic pursuit as the other causes they support. Our state is beset by critical problems both old and new: poverty, racial tensions, violence, educational deficits, natural disasters, and now COVID. While we have had some initial success in attracting grant funding, we are long way off from building the news operation our residents deserve.”
Duc Luu, publisher and chief development officer, Washington City Paper
“As we approach our 40th anniversary of serving the Washington, D.C. community, we are excited to be joining LMA’s Center for Journalism Funding. Late last year, we launched a reader membership program and have grown it to nearly 1,100 members. Philanthropic funding is essential to continuing to grow that membership base because grants can give us the boost to hire more reporters and fund more beats that are needed at this critical juncture for our area and our readers. We want to leave the Center’s program with a roadmap to identify coverage gaps in the D.C. media landscape and a strategy for securing major donations to meet those gaps so that we can ensure our future as a community-supported news organization for the next 40 years.”
For more information, contact Frank Mungeam, chief innovation officer, Local Media Association, firstname.lastname@example.org