In late August, Local Media Association announced the 20 news organizations that will participate in the second cohort of its Lab for Journalism Funding. The lab will help these local news organizations develop and execute strategies to fund essential local journalism via philanthropy. The four-month immersive lab runs from September through December.

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. Sixteen publishers in LMA’s first cohort raised more than $5 million to fund local journalism. In July, LMA released a 42-page report, Pathways to Philanthropy, documenting lessons learned and best practices from the lab. LMA regularly publishes case studies on how publishers raised funds to support their local journalism. The second cohort seeks to match those fundraising results.

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. What they have in common is a commitment to local journalism that serves audiences in their communities. LMA asked these news outlets to share their goals for joining the lab.

Sonny Messiah Jiles

“The LMA Lab for Journalism Funding opens a new door of revenue opportunities that allows us to grow our newsroom and provide more information and resources for our community to access. This equals empowerment for our readers and the Houston Defender Network. We are excited to be a part of this lab.”

– Sonny Messiah Jiles, CEO of Houston Defender Network

Del Toro

“La Raza is looking forward to participate in the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding as a promissory way to increase our current skills and capabilities, to move our current successes in fundraising from philanthropic institutions to the next level, and to increase our sustainability options to keep serving the Hispanic communities in Chicago with high quality local Spanish journalism.”

– Jesús Del Toro, director general and editor in chief of La Raza Chicago


“We’re thrilled to be joining this lab, which has already been building a blueprint for sustainable, thriving local journalism across the nation. We’re excited about what we’ll learn, but we’re even more excited what it will mean for the people and businesses across the midlands of South Carolina. Especially in rural areas like ours, vibrant local news leads to better community and a more enjoyable life for our residents.”

– Vince Johnson, publisher at The Sumter Item


“As a small startup news organization covering a hyperlocal niche topic, we are thrilled to be included in this cohort and look forward to better communicating our unique value proposition with funders.”

– Nina Misuraca Ignaczak, editor and founder of Planet Detroit


“We’re all witnessing what happens when our communities don’t have access to accurate, fact-based, locally produced journalism. The Chicago Reader is thrilled to learn from leaders in the industry about how to partner with philanthropy to support this pillar of democracy. We also look forward to collaborating with our peers in this work around the country.”

– Karen Hawkins, co-publisher and co-editor in chief at Chicago Reader


“We are honored to participate in the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding. As a development professional who is new to the news industry, I’m excited about the prospect of working closely with a colleague who has deep experience in the news business, as well as gaining insights from the learning community that LMA is convening.”

– Sumaya Saati, Development Officer, Texas Tribune


“Our company produces hyperlocal products, and our business approach over the last several years has been to focus on advertising and reader revenue. We have identified philanthropy as a new source to help us sustain and grow, but it’s an avenue we have never explored. We are very excited to be part of the Lab for Journalism Funding so we can better understand how philanthropy can help us expand and deepen our journalism.”

– Dave Gould, owner of Main Street Media of Tennessee


“Local journalism has never been more important — or more threatened. The Local Media Association’s Lab for Journalism Funding will help the Miami Herald strengthen the vital partnership between our journalists and the community we serve by increasing our mutual investment in impact initiatives that can result in positive change.”

– Nancy Meyer, president of Miami Herald


“We’re excited to join media organizations as diverse as the Miami Herald, the Chicago Reader, the Houston Defender Network, the Oregonian and the New York Amsterdam News in this cohort. We need new ideas for coverage and funding in local journalism, and we’re excited to learn how we can better engage with our readers and fund our growing number of publications by being part of this program.”

– Jehadu Abshiro, managing editor at Advocate Media – Dallas


“As a family-owned company, we understand the importance of finding new ways to fund journalism. It’s critical to our communities that we put the time, effort and resources into developing strategies that will help our newsrooms provide coverage our readers want and need. We appreciate the expert guidance we’ll receive along the way, and we look forward to this next chapter of local journalism.”

– Steve Leone, publisher at Concord Monitor and vice president of news at Newspapers of New England

Catherine Badalamente

“Diversifying revenue, but more importantly building community partnerships, is essential to the future of local journalism. We’re excited to learn how and when to work with philanthropic partners to create local movements with real impact in Graham Media Group’s markets.”

– Catherine Badalamente, vice president and chief innovation officer at Graham Media Group


“Feet in 2 Worlds is excited to be included in LMA’s Lab for Journalism Funding. Conecta Arizona is the latest local journalism venture that Feet in 2 Worlds has helped to launch. We use WhatsApp and other social media sites as the main distribution platform, as well as radio and newspapers, to reach our audience with timely and accurate information in Spanish about COVID and related topics. Conecta Arizona’s challenge is to develop a sustainable stream of revenue to support this innovative news-you-can-use service. We look forward to learning from the experts at LMA.”

– John Rudolph, executive producer of Feet in 2 Worlds


“We’re excited for this amazing opportunity to learn new strategies on how to fund local journalism. Our focus will be expanding our education coverage in Arizona with philanthropic support.”

– Charlene Bisson, publisher of Independent Newsmedia including Daily Independent


“This funding lab is an unprecedented opportunity for Amsterdam News to grow, learn and share with a cohort of other publishers. In a time of turmoil in the newspaper industry, this initiative spurs us to innovate out of challenge — into a place where we all can again begin to thrive.”

– Elinor Tatum, publisher, chief executive officer and editor-in-chief of The New York Amsterdam News


“I’m excited to be part of LMA’s Lab for Journalism Funding. I see philanthropic support of journalism to be an important means by which we can bolster our newsroom in the future. Gaining an understanding of how to incorporate an approach for that support into our operation will be incredibly helpful.”

– Terry Williams, president and chief operating officer at The Keene Sentinel


“We believe all Oklahoman voices need to be heard. That’s why NonDoc Media is looking forward to the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding so we can learn more about creating a solid fundraising campaign in order to expand our tribal affairs coverage.”

– Angela Anne Jones, operations manager at NonDoc Media

Chris Bennett

“It is very important for local communities to have strong, independent media outlets that can shed light on disparities and highlight the good work that many individuals/organizations are doing to make a difference and move the needle. In order for us to continue to do this work at a very high level, it is clear that we must find alternative funding methods to not only hire/maintain quality reporters, writers, editors and other essential newsroom personnel, but to also build a sustainable business model to fund the newsrooms of the future. The prior success of this lab speaks for itself, and we are certain that the Lab for Journalism Funding will provide us with the foundation to serve our community at a very high level for years to come.”

– Chris Bennett, editor and publisher at Seattle Medium


“We are very excited to be part of this great cohort. Since our participation and success in last year’s Local News Fund, we’ve had discussions about community- and philanthropy-funded journalism internally and with community organizations, and we feel like this is perfect timing for us. Our experience with the Local News Fund really opened our eyes to the potential of fundraising as a viable way to fund much-needed local journalism.”

– Carlos Virgen, assistant managing editor for audience development at The Day


“We’re excited about joining this effort because we believe it will help us preserve and expand the public-interest journalism that is vital to strengthening and empowering the communities we serve.”

– Therese Bottomly, editor and vice president of content at Oregonian Media Group


“Local journalism is a public good, and the case for community support is undeniable. With the support of the Lab for Journalism Funding we will learn how to connect our public service to the impact mission of local philanthropy, to the betterment of our region.”

– Jo Easton, audience director at Bangor Daily News

The second cohort of the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding will run from September to December, with fundraising to be completed by March 31, 2022. Throughout the lab, LMA will publish case studies on publisher lessons and successes that can be applied across the news industry.