(May 25, 2023) — Local Media Association has selected 12 local media companies to join the new Family and Independent Media Sustainability Lab — FIMS Lab for short — aimed at finding paths to sustainability for family-owned and independent local media organizations.

Thanks to funding from Google News Initiative, a team of expert consultants will work for one year with key leaders of 12 family-owned and independent local media companies — representing news outlets across five time zones — immersing in strategic business transformation work intended to advance them toward long-term sustainability and financial independence. 

The FIMS Lab is an offshoot of the Knight x LMA BloomLab, which is focused on technology and business transformation for 26 Black-owned local media companies. The early results from that lab have been game-changing for the first cohort of publishers. The FIMS Lab represents an opportunity to take the BloomLab learnings and expand to other family and independent media organizations across the country. 

“I have lived and breathed newspapers since I was born, attending newspaper conferences with my dad in high school. My entire career I’ve been excited to lead the evolution and transformation of our culture and strategic direction for the future,” said Liz White Notarangelo, publisher and executive vice president of RJ Media Group in Meriden, Connecticut. “It’s getting more and more difficult to maintain profitability as our business model and the world rapidly changes. We have done lots of innovating and transforming over the last 15 years, which has helped, but we need new ideas, strategies and structures to build long-term sustainability. Thank you for launching this lab because your help will be greatly appreciated.”

“Local news outlets become sustainable when they are given the power to create the right conditions for long term success,” said Dorrine Mendoza, FIMS Lab project lead. “Independent and family-owned media play an important role in American communities. The ability to earn trust, stay true to their independent spirit and find financial success requires extraordinary effort. Each one brings so much energy to the task ahead. We’re dedicated to supporting their next steps,” 

LMA received dozens of applications and the team was grateful to every leader who took the time to apply, Mendoza added.

“This innovative approach by LMA to support family owned and independent media has the potential to pay true dividends to all of our stakeholders, from the communities we serve to the critically important journalists and employees who work feverishly to build upon a quality and qualified local news ecosystem,” said Francis Wick, CEO of Wick Communications. “[We are] honored to be part of the inaugural FIMS cohort, to cross-share and work with industry leading peers and consultants in evaluating and supporting a true guidepath of stability for local journalism.”

The 12 media companies selected to participate are:

“The Google News Initiative is proud to partner with LMA on this new lab focused on family and independently owned media companies,” said Chrissy Towle, director, News Partnerships, Americas Ecosystem and Associations, Google. “This segment of the local media industry is incredibly important to small and midsize towns and cities across the country. The lab will focus on long-term sustainability as well as revenue and audience growth. We’re excited to see the results.”

Lab participants also will benefit from general strategic planning and consulting services, including site visits by subject-matter experts with agendas tailored to each participating organization’s needs. And the Lab will cover costs for each participating company to send two main stakeholders to an in-person, full-cohort meeting Aug. 1 in Chicago, coinciding with LMA Fest.

“Family and independent media owners were the founders of SNA, now LMA, 53 years ago,” said LMA CEO Nancy Lane. “They could have sold their businesses like many others did, but instead stayed for the right reason — a commitment to high quality news and information for the communities they serve. They don’t have the corporate resources that larger media companies have and that hurts their ability to transform at a rapid pace. This lab will go a long way in providing those types of resources to this important segment of the local media ecosystem.”

About Local Media Association / Local Media Foundation

Local Media Association brings all media together to share, network, collaborate and more. More than 3,000 newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, digital pure-plays, and research and development partners engage with LMA as members or constituents of our programs. As a 501(c)(6) trade association, LMA is focused on the business side of local media. Its programs and labs focus on revenue growth and new business models. LMA helps local media companies develop their strategies via cutting-edge programs, conferences, webinars, research and training.

Local Media Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable trust, serves as the innovation and transformation affiliate of LMA. Incorporating our four strategic pillarsbusiness transformation, journalism funded by philanthropy, industry collaboration, and sustainability for publishers of color — LMF helps provide local media companies the strategies and resources for meaningful innovation and impactful journalism projects.