The new Local Media Foundation board chair, Tom Shaw, is vice president and chief product officer of Shaw Media. Before Shaw Media, Tom worked in local radio and television advertising sales. He has a journalism degree from Colorado State University, and a Masters of Business Administration from University of Colorado at Denver.
We caught up with Tom to ask about his vision for the LMF board and how he views the challenges facing the local media industry.
What are your goals for the year as the new chair of the LMF board of directors?
My first goal of the year is to increase engagement with the board and the staff. Every director on this board brings a unique skill set and perspective, and each director wants to actively participate with the exciting projects we have launched.
Second, we are going to improve communication. With the unprecedented level of funding that Nancy and her team have raised, we have an equally unprecedented number of programs and projects in different phases of launch. To ensure we are good stewards of these funds, my goal is to improve communication across all platforms with the LMF board, the [Local Media Association] board, the staff, the industry, and the greater society.
My third goal is to continue our tradition of full board participation in supporting local journalism financially; 100% board support is crucial in demonstrating to funding partners that we believe in what we are asking them to support.
What areas of focus do you think will have the most positive impact on your organization’s future?
Reader revenue is a top priority for our company. With leadership prioritization, a commitment to funding our newsrooms to produce quality local journalism, and a team driven by data-informed decisions, we have experienced four years of double-digit revenue growth in digital subscription revenue.
Recruitment and retention is an area of focus we can’t spend enough time on. We are striving to make our company a great place to work, where employees can advance their careers, have flexible schedules, and know their viewpoints matter in the organization.
A focus on customer service, across all departments, is vital for our future success. From structure to training to technology, customer service is a top strategic priority for our company.
What is the biggest challenge facing the local media industry today?
We still haven’t figured out the new business models that will provide sustainability and growth. In my industry specifically, local newspapers, our legacy distribution costs are untenable. However, I’m encouraged with all the different models popping up, especially over the last few years. From not-for-profits, to digital only, to new cross-platform organizations, we all have the opportunity to learn from these bold ventures.
What do you think is the biggest opportunity for the local media industry?
Collaboration. Across print, TV, radio, digital, we’ve all been humbled by the realities of our disrupted business models. Many of us are more open to sharing our successes and failures than we were in decades past. Every insight we collectively gain improves the local media ecosystem. Together we have the best chance of finding sustainability.
Why are you excited to lead the LMF board of directors?
The LMF board of directors is made up of some of the brightest leaders in the industry. We are moving mountains in local journalism, focusing on initiatives with broad impact for the greater good of society. The work of LMA/LMF is doing more to improve local media than ever, which in turn benefits our society. I’m honored to lead the LMF board this year.