BloomLab Cohort 2

(October 20, 2022) — Local Media Foundation has named eight Black-owned local news organizations to participate in the second cohort of the Knight x LMA BloomLab, as follows:

BloomLab and LMF leaders selected these media outlets after an extensive application process which included a panel of outside experts who reviewed applications, and individual interviews conducted by the three BloomLab directors,  John CelestandApryl Pilolli and Robert Walker-Smith.  

The review panelists were Maple Walker-Lloyd, LMF board member and director of development and community engagement at Block Club Chicago; Peter Lamb, The Branded Content Project; Frances “Toni” Draper, CEO and president of The Afro-American Newspapers; and Tracy Brown, LMA board member and managing editor at WBEZ in Chicago, in addition to the three BloomLab directors.  

The Knight x LMA BloomLab is a three-year immersive experience with 26 Black-owned local media outlets, with initial funding of $3.2 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The participating organizations will receive technology grants of $50,000, with additional funding expected to increase those amounts. The first lab cohort includes 10 news organizations and its work will soon move into its second year.

Cohort 2 will build on early learnings from Cohort 1, and concentrate on the lab’s three focus areas; technology upgrades, business transformation consulting and shared learning opportunities.

“Our second cohort represents a fantastic mix of publishers and markets,” said Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association and Local Media Foundation. “As we read the applications and letters from the CEOs, it was apparent that these eight were truly ready to transform to the next level in their path to long-term sustainability. We are very grateful to the Knight Foundation for funding this important work and can’t wait to get started.”

The eight publishers will receive training and one-on-one coaching from the lab’s three directors and outside experts. Each publisher will also receive in-person visits from the directors, who will work with each team to advance technology tools and implementation, sales outcomes and organizational capacity.

“We are thrilled to welcome eight new publishers to join the great work already being done in the BloomLab,” said John Celestand, program director of the Knight x LMA BloomLab. “Each publisher will bring unique attributes that will foster collaboration and new learnings not only for this cohort, but for Cohort 1 as well.” 

Leaders from all eight organizations will meet with members of the BloomLab and LMF teams on November 2-3 in Atlanta for the official Cohort 2 launch event.  

Meet the cohort

Black Voice News 

“BloomLab’s focus on resilience, audience growth strategies, and diverse revenue models as well as its collaborative approach to journalism is just what we need as we continue our organization’s transformation. We look forward to joining the BloomLab’s next group of premier news organizations as we continue to produce high-quality, data-enhanced and solutions-focused reporting for our community.”

— Paulette Brown-Hinds, publisher, Black Voice News 

The Baltimore Times 

“The Baltimore Times is excited to have been selected in what we believe is an important cohort to ensure the future sustainability of our publication. Last year we began to lay the foundation for our digital transformation with measurable results. Our participation in the BloomLab cohort will ensure that The Baltimore Times continues its upward trajectory of increased digital revenue, audience growth and digital product expansion utilizing expert consultants and the best in technology which supports the publication’s core needs today.”

— Paris Brown, associate publisher, The Baltimore Times 

The Cincinnati Herald 

“My staff and I are so excited to have been selected to participate in Cohort 2 of the Knight x LMA BloomLab. This will give us the opportunity to improve our digital footprint in Cincinnati and the state of Ohio. BloomLab will improve my digital team’s knowledge base regarding the needs and demands of producing a digital publication [i.e. the Cincinnati Herald website]. The future of our company one day is as a digital publication. I understand that participation in BloomLab gives us the needed tools and training to create and improve digital publications for the minority community.”

— Walter L. White, publisher, Cincinnati Herald 

The Dallas Examiner 

“We are looking forward to participating in Cohort 2 of the BloomLab because it will give us the tools and methods we need to expand our digital platforms and increase engagement with our readers. Growing The Dallas Examiner online will benefit our community by providing them with pertinent information for their future success.” 

— Mollie Belt, CEO and publisher, The Dallas Examiner 

QCity Metro 

“QCity Metro is thrilled to be selected for BloomLab’s Cohort 2. A program like this can be absolutely transformative, especially for small, independent publishers struggling to grow audience and revenue.”

— Glenn H. Burkins, founder/publisher, QCity Metro

The Miami Times 

 “The Miami Times is honored to be selected to participate in the second cohort for Knight x LMA BloomLab. This opportunity to enhance our ongoing digital transformation and foster long-term sustainability comes at a pivotal point in our organization’s 100-year history. Our team is excited to learn and collaborate with fellow media outlets on how we can implement technology to best serve our mission. We hope to gain valuable insight and skills from the BloomLab team that ultimately will allow us to deliver a better news product for our readers and advertisers.”

— Garth C. Reeves III, publisher, The Miami Times 

The Philadelphia Tribune 

“I am very encouraged to participate in the Knight x LMA BloomLab. It appears that The Philadelphia Tribune will be advantaged by this learning experience and we believe it will help us sustain the Tribune.”

— Robert Bogle, president and CEO, The Philadelphia Tribune 

The Community Voice 

“As a legacy African-American newspaper, we understand our continued existence depends on us making digital a core part of our business model.  While we’ve been actively working to make this happen, we know the potential is so much greater than we’ve been able to achieve on our own. Participating in the BloomLab, with its peer-to-peer sharing, plus the one-on-one business consulting is just what we need for where we are now.”

— Bonita Gooch, publisher, The Community Voice