(January 8, 2021) — Local Media Association, in partnership with Facebook Journalism Project, has launched a pilot project to empower smaller and mid-sized newsrooms to access and transform data into high-impact local journalism.


The pilot project will leverage tools and training from Crosstown and be implemented by WRAL-TV in Raleigh, N.C., and The Times-Picayune, The Advocate and NOLA.com in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.

Crosstown technology is designed to enable local newsrooms to access and convert relevant datasets conveniently into highly relevant local news reporting.

“This pilot project is designed to help busy newsrooms access and analyze local datasets and use that data to identify and report on local issues in ways that make numbers meaningful to their audiences,” said Frank Mungeam, chief innovation officer at LMA. “Making data accessible and actionable to all in the newsroom is key to our broader mission of sustainable models for local news.”

The technology was developed at USC as a data tool for journalists in a collaboration between the Annenberg School of Journalism and the Viterbi School of Engineering.


“The goal of USC Annenberg’s Crosstown experiment is to harness data to help newsrooms across the country produce high-quality, cost-effective hyperlocal news,” said Gabriel Kahn of Crosstown. “By using data to surface stories on key quality of life issues, such as traffic, housing and crime, we can deliver neighborhood-level news in the form of charts, maps, and stories for minimal costs.”

Judi Terzotis

“We are absolutely thrilled to be part of this data pilot project in collaboration with Crosstown, LMA and Facebook. It’s a win for our organization and our readers. Proving relevant localized data is expensive and laborious. Thanks to this partnership we will be able to advance the sophistication of our coverage with more robust data,” said Judi Terzotis, president and publisher of The Times-Picayune, The Advocate and NOLA.com.

John Conway

“Our company has a proud tradition of using data to tell important stories on our TV and digital platforms,” said John Conway, WRAL Digital vice president. “The Crosstown tools and Facebook funding will allow us to amplify and expand that crucial reporting. We also look forward to testing new business models for serving our mass audience at a neighborhood level with hyper-local and highly relevant data.”

Funding from Facebook Journalism Project will enable each newsroom to employ a reporter dedicated to data journalism, and the training and product development needed to equip each newsroom with Crosstown’s data tools and datasets relevant in their local community.


“The Facebook Journalism Project looks for ways to support the connection between journalists and the communities they serve. Crosstown’s technology represents an opportunity to both superserve local audiences with relevant data and also help busy newsrooms more easily access and use data for reporting,” said Dorrine Mendoza with the Facebook Journalism Project.

“Finding new and smart ways to leverage the power of data for better local journalism is core to LMA’s mission of finding sustainable business models for local news,” added Nancy Lane, chief executive officer of LMA.

Nancy Lane

LMA will publish regular updates on lessons learned by the two newsrooms and, in collaboration with Crosstown, produce a data journalism playbook of best practices that can be implemented by other small and midsized newsrooms.

About the project partners:

Crosstown is a technology developed at USC as a data tool for journalists in a collaboration between the Annenberg School for Journalism and Communication and the Viterbi School of Engineering. It powers Crosstown_LA, a nonprofit news organization based at the Annenberg School.

WRAL-TV is a family-owned broadcast and digital media company with a long tradition of innovation and industry leadership. WRAL is privately owned by Capitol Broadcasting Co. and is the leading TV and digital news source in the Raleigh-Durham region of North Carolina.

NOLA.com/The Advocate is the leading print-and-digital source of news serving New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the state of Louisiana, with its publishing and community roots dating to 1842.

The Facebook Journalism Project works with publishers around the world to strengthen the connection between journalists and the communities they serve.through training, programs, and partnerships.

Local Media Association is a thriving and innovative organization serving more than 3,000 newspapers, TV stations, digital news sites, radio stations and research & development partners. Local Media Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable trust that supports the mission of LMA and the essential role of local news and information in a healthy democracy.


Frank Mungeam, Chief Innovation Officer, Local Media Association; frank.mungeam@localmedia.org

Nancy Lane, Chief Executive Officer, Local Media Association; nancy.lane@localmedia.org