Catherine Badalamente is the incoming CEO for Graham Media Group and has been with the company since 2000. She has served in a number of executive leadership roles, spearheading the organization’s digital efforts since 2009, most recently as vice president and chief innovation officer.

Badalamente has been at the forefront of the changing television landscape and transition to new media throughout her career, helping to create successful multiplatform convergent campaigns for clients and stations, and successfully driving growth in both audience and revenue for the group. She has served on both the Local Media Association and Local Media Foundation boards of directors, and is the new chair of the LMA board.

We caught up with Badalamente to learn more about her goals and the opportunities she sees for 2022.

What are your goals for the year as the new chair of the LMA board of directors?

The last couple of years have been some of the most challenging, but also, some of the most productive, innovative, and inspiring for the Local Media Association. With all the uncertainty coming from the pandemic, the mission of this organization crystallized. We now have a direct path forward for both LMA and LMF, with clear goals and desired outcomes — the mission is clearer in 2022 than ever before.

A big thank you to all of those who worked hard to get us to this point along with CEO Nancy Lane and her team, including past chairs Matt Coen, Gordon Borrell, and Tom Sly.

And because we start every board meeting restating our four strategic pillars, I will remind everyone of them here as well:

Local Media Association and Local Media Foundation work to reinvent business models for news by focusing on our four strategic pillars:

  • Business transformation
  • Journalism funded by philanthropy
  • Industry collaboration
  • Sustainability for publishers of color / diversity, equity, and inclusion

I want to continue to build on this momentum, to support LMA in staying true to its mission while going through a period of rapid growth. The team that Nancy has assembled is competent and inspiring – we just need more of them! Check out the current job openings at LMA here. There is a lot of work to be done and we need to fulfill our obligations to the many projects already in motion while also identifying new areas of opportunity. We have a strategic planning session scheduled for this summer; my hope is to come away from that meeting with an even more sharpened focus on the direction LMA needs to take to realize its goals.

Congratulations on your upcoming promotion to CEO of Graham Media Group. Can you share a bit about the significance of a digital-side person leading the broadcast company?

I try not to focus too much on the digital vs. broadcast mentality or the designation of being (or not being) a “digital-first company.” My goal is to make everyone forget what my last job was and instead focus on the constant evolution of making Graham Media an audience-first company, energized by the changes and challenges ahead.

What insight can you share as a woman in a CEO and executive leadership role in broadcast media, and what advice might you give others?

For starters, we need a lot more people that look like me, as well as people of color, in executive leadership roles in media. There are still too many times that I look around at industry events and think, “We still have a long way to go.” Everyone needs to play his or her part. I know diversity is essential for our business and industry. We now need everyone to buy into that idea and create programs and processes that make it an essential part of what we do every day. It cannot just be lip-service. We need specific, stated goals that guide us and our actions. Just like anything else that is important, we need to have rigor around it and do things day-in and day-out that support the outcome of having a more vibrant and diverse industry — especially at the top.

Use the LMA board as an example of how to get it done — explicitly state your specific and transparent diversity goals, and then follow up with the activities that will lead to, and exceed, those goals. Make it a priority for the entire organization.

What do you think are the greatest challenge and opportunity for the media industry today?

My greatest challenge is my greatest opportunity — to discover and grow new audiences and revenue.

What is the one LMA initiative you are most excited about in 2022?

I am lucky enough to have first-hand experience with several LMA initiatives, including the Covering Climate Collaborative and the Lab for Journalism Funding. Both are incredibly rewarding and challenging.

I am beyond excited to hear the monthly updates from the LMA team on the magnificent work they are doing, especially with the Word In Black news collaborative — it feels like the potential for this project is limitless.