Local Media Association has named 20 news organizations that will participate in the second cohort of its Lab for Journalism Funding. The lab, a project of Local Media Foundation, is operated by LMA with continued support from the Google News Initiative and new funding from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
The Lab for Journalism Funding will help local news organizations develop and execute strategies to fund essential local journalism, in part through philanthropic support. The four-month immersive lab will run from September through December.
Sixteen publishers in LMA’s first cohort raised more than $5 million to fund local journalism. LMA published case studies on how publishers raised funds to support their local journalism; and in July, LMA released a 42-page report, Pathways to Philanthropy, documenting lessons learned and best practices from the lab.
“We are very pleased to be able to offer the learnings and lessons from our first funding lab to this new cohort of publishers,” said Nancy Lane, LMA chief executive officer. “It is clear that philanthropy is one of the essential pillars going forward when it comes to sustaining local journalism.”
“We were thrilled with the results of the LMA’s first Lab for Journalism Funding as it far exceeded our expectations and goals,” said Chrissy Towle, head of news for Americas Partnerships Solutions at Google. “Fundraising and philanthropic support are increasingly becoming meaningful sources of revenue for high-quality journalism. I’m excited to see what this next group of publishers is able to achieve.”
Lenfest will provide both funding and ongoing training resources to this program through the Lenfest News Philanthropy Network, its global community of practice for fundraising professionals in journalism.
“The Lenfest Institute is pleased to partner with LMA and Google News Initiative to support philanthropic training for these 20 news enterprises,” said Jim Friedlich, executive director of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism. “The diversity of this nationwide group of news businesses is especially important and gratifying.”
The 2021 Lab for Journalism Funding will once again be led by LMA Chief Innovation Officer Frank Mungeam, and feature curriculum and coaching from Joaquin Alvarado of Studiotobe, who helped develop the highly successful philanthropy-funded journalism efforts of The Seattle Times. Joining the coaching team for the second cohort is executive coach Joanne Heyman.
“As a board member of The GroundTruth Project and Report for America, I have seen up-close the power of supporting local news organizations as they do the important work of serving communities,” said Heyman. “I’m thrilled to have the chance to help the LMA lab participants do critical work around their sustainability, as I believe it is an essential part of shoring up democracy.”
More than 50 companies applied to participate in the second cohort of the lab. The 20 newsrooms accepted include a diverse set of publishers in small and large markets — with a strong representation of family-owned outlets — and include three Black-owned and two Spanish-language publishers, as well as one broadcast news organization. They are:
- Advocate Media – Dallas
- Bangor Daily News
- Chicago Reader
- Concord Monitor
- Conecta Arizona
- Daily Independent
- The Day
- Graham Media Group
- Houston Defender Network
- The Keene Sentinel
- La Raza Chicago
- Main Street Nashville
- Miami Herald
- The New York Amsterdam News
- NonDoc Media
- Planet Detroit
- The Oregonian
- The Seattle Medium
- The Sumter Item
- The Texas Tribune
“These newsrooms have a strong vision for how philanthropy could support essential local journalism,” said Frank Mungeam, chief innovation officer of LMA. “We are excited to leverage the learnings from our first cohort, and help these 20 news outlets implement philanthropy strategies that can help them better serve their communities.”
Collectively the group will aim to raise at least $5 million by June 30, 2022. Case studies and an industry playbook will be published, sharing best practices and lessons learned.
About Local Media Association and Local Media Foundation
The 2021 cohort of the Lab for Journalism Funding continues LMA’s strategic focus on philanthropy, identified by LMA as one of the biggest opportunities for local news organizations to sustain their business. LMA’s work in this area started in 2019 when LMA was awarded $300,000 from GNI’s Innovation Challenge to create NewsFuel, a platform that matches funders with journalism projects. In 2020, Local Media Foundation created the COVID-19 Local News Fund, which helped more than 200 publishers raise $1.7 million to enhance their coverage of the pandemic. More than $3 million has been raised since May 2020 to support a number of other projects including the Fund for Black Journalism, the Fund for Local Journalism and five industry collaboratives: Word In Black, Oklahoma Media Center, Solving for Chicago, LMA Covering Climate Collaborative and Amplify Ohio.