Local Media Association is expanding The Lab for Journalism Funding to welcome up to 20 newsrooms into the program, which offers individualized coaching, best practices, and the framework to grow philanthropic support for local news in communities of all sizes.
Applications are due Aug. 8 to be considered for the second cohort of the lab, created with support from Google News Initiative, which will run from September to December 2021. The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is a new partner and supporter, providing both funding and expertise to the lab.
The pilot lab enabled 16 publishers to raise $4.5 million for local news in nine months. Collectively, the second cohort will aim to raise at least $5 million for participants’ own reporting efforts by June 2022.
What does success look like for newsrooms in the lab? Here are 10 big numbers from the first cohort that show why publishers should explore philanthropic funding for local news through LMA’s Lab for Journalism Funding.
$1.38 million for NOLA.com | The Advocate and Times-Picayune
The teams at NOLA.com, The Advocate and The Times-Picayune had an ambitious goal to raise $1.5 million to support doubling the investigative reporting staff over three years, taking the team from four to eight.The publisher raised $387,000 from 169 donors ranging from $20 to $75,000 during the lab, and shortly after its conclusion, announced a 3-year, $1 million grant from Ford Foundation. Read the full LMA case study: Focus on what’s essential — NOLA.com
$1.1 million for The Post and Courier
The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, raised $1.1 million in new funding for journalism projects. Some of that is part of a three-year commitment to fund a new Education Lab. More than $500,000 was raised to pay for a five-person investigative team and the work the team has been doing in a year-long project called “Uncovered.” The project is a collaboration with 16 community newspapers across South Carolina in which they used their local knowledge and reporting resources to uncover corruption and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. Read the full LMA case study: Start with WHY — How The Post and Courier rallied its community to support investigative journalism
$631,000 for The AFRO
The AFRO secured a reporter from Report for America, received funding from Facebook for two reporters, and also raised $131,000 for a partnership with the Baltimore City Public School district to highlight the voices of local youth. The AFRO also received $500,000 from a major funder to digitize the paper’s historical archives, which date back over 100 years.
$200,000 for AL DÍA
AL DÍA in Philadelphia created the Journalism Lab on Higher Education to focus on publishing content exclusively on the state of higher education. AL DÍA raised more than $200,000 from higher education institutions alone, enough money to launch the lab. The goal is to collaborate with institutions of higher education, local and national higher education leaders, and policy makers to bring awareness, increase student enrollment, influence policy as it relates to higher education, host events, and produce an annual report on best practices.
$205,000 for The Sacramento Observer
The Sacramento Observer secured a total of $205,000 through various grant opportunities including Report for America, Facebook Journalism Project Accelerator, Knight Foundation, California Black Media, Comcast Rise and Media In Color. The grants have enabled The Observer to triple its editorial team from two to six journalists.
$150,000 for Washington City Paper
Since starting the lab, Washington City Paper has secured more than $150,000 in funding from the Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellowship and the Knight Foundation. These funds helped the paper hire additional journalists to expand coverage across beats.
$110,000 for Record-Journal
The Record-Journal of Meriden, Connecticut, sought funding for its Latino Communities Reporting Lab to amplify the voices of local Latino communities. So far, the publisher has raised over $110,000 from a combination of sources, including two foundations, eight business launch partners, a community donation platform, as well as four marketing campaigns around a specific project to provide trusted COVID-19 vaccine information to Latino communities. Read the full LMA case study: Built to Last: Record-Journal creates reporting lab to serve Latino communities.
$106,000 for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution secured $106,000 to support efforts on COVID reporting and investigative journalism, Georgia’s fast-changing political landscape, and coverage of immigrant communities. Significant funders included Report for America, which enabled hiring of two multilingual journalists, and the general public, which contributed to watchdog journalism on COVID-19 and its effect on Georgia.
$36,000 for The Sun Herald
The Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi, Mississippi, raised $36,000 to pay for a reporter to examine vaccine distribution in the state. Some funders include Chevron, Mississippi Power, and a prominent lawyer. Read the full LMA case study: Size doesn’t matter for journalism funded by philanthropy
$30,500 for Nogales International
Being a native of the United States-Mexico border, Nogales International publisher Manuel C. Coppola was familiar with the disconnect that monolingual Spanish speakers confront in decision making processes within the community. He sought funding for a reporter to shed light on some of these barriers and launched the series Voces Calladas: Out from the Shadows. The paper raised more than $30,500 to cover salary and benefits for the initial six months. Since March, the reporter has written 14 stories.
Read more about the philanthropic funding opportunities for local media in the LMA report Pathways to Philanthropy: Lesson’s from the Lab for Journalism Funding.