(May 19, 2023) — Local Media Association is pleased to announce the 16 news organizations selected to participate in the fourth 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 six-month intensive lab runs from May through November 2023.

The lab, a program of Local Media Foundation, is operated by LMA with continued support from the Google News Initiative. Since its launch in September 2020, the lab has trained and coached 70 publishers, helping them raise more than $17.7 million to fund community service journalism. LMA published a 42-page report, Pathways to Philanthropy, to share lessons learned and best practices with the news industry. 

“We are excited by the diverse set of local journalism projects this cohort seeks to fund,” said Frank Mungeam, chief innovation officer at LMA and LMF. “Their commitment to serving their communities is clear, and we are excited to share the learnings from our fundraising lab to enable them to grow and sustain their journalism.” 

“The Google News Initiative works to support a thriving local news ecosystem, and we are excited for this fourth cohort of news publishers in the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding to develop new, sustainable funding sources for their essential local journalism,” said Chrissy Towle, head of Associations and Ecosystems, Americas at Google.

The 16 newsrooms accepted into the fourth cohort include a diverse set of organizations in small and large markets, across varied media platforms, with a strong representation of family-owned outlets and publishers who focus on traditionally underserved audiences. These news outlets share a commitment to civic journalism. LMA asked leaders at these news outlets to share their goals for participating in the lab.

What the lab participants say

“The days of supporting our news operations with advertising and circulation revenue are coming to an end. I am hoping to develop an expert on our staff who can help us fund our project to expand our coverage to better include underserved surrounding areas, and then moving forward, to endow our newsroom, ensuring Northwest Philadelphia will benefit from a team of independent local newsgathering and reporting professionals in perpetuity.”

— John Derr, publisher, Chestnut Hill Local

“We have a strong revenue team in general, but we have struggled with raising funding for discrete, tangible journalism projects. Based on what we’ve seen in other newsrooms, we’re betting a lot of senior leadership time on the belief that LMA Lab for Journalism Funding can fill this hole for us and bring even more accountability journalism to Connecticut.”

— Bruce S. Putterman, chief executive officer / publisher, CT Mirror

“We’ve been inspired by The Seattle Times, The Sacramento Bee and others that are leading the way in fundraising for local news. LMA’s program is the next step we need to improve our skills and better serve Detroit.”

— Anjanette Delgado, executive editor, Detroit Free Press

“This lab will give us the tools to add philanthropy into our long-range goal of keeping community-based journalism alive in rural Oregon.”

— Heidi Wright, publisher/chief operations officer, The Bulletin | EO Media Group 

​​”We are very excited to participate in the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding to learn best practices on how to create opportunities to fund our high quality journalism through philanthropy.”

— Hilda Gurdian, publisher, La Noticia

“During a time of racial discord and conflict in much of America, a vibrant Black Press is needed now more than ever. We believe the LMA Lab will help us acquire the tools and resources needed to bolster our foundation and, ultimately, advance our mission of providing empowering information that helps our readers live happier, healthier and more productive lives.”

— Gregory J. Huskisson, vice-president / content and audience,
Equal Access Media Inc. | Los Angeles Wave

“We were thrilled to be selected to participate in this next Lab cohort. We are eager to introduce philanthropy as a new revenue stream to Masthead Maine, the state’s largest media network. Collaborating with the cohort publishers and learning from the experienced team of advisors and coaches at the LMA, we’re ready to build a playbook that will enable us to fund more important local news in service to our communities.”

— Lisa DeSisto, chief executive officer, Masthead Maine

“Participation in the lab will line up perfectly with our company’s latest endeavor, The Democracy Project. This is a forward-looking initiative that seeks to enhance our journalism’s impact on communities. Through this program, we aspire to promote democratic principles, foster social equity, encourage civic participation, and elevate journalism’s credibility. We see philanthropy playing a critical role in our ability to provide our trustworthy journalism to underserved areas. We are thrilled to participate in the lab and discover innovative ways to overcome internal distractions and prioritize our community’s requirements.”

— Kelly Montague, vice president marketing, communications and subscriptions, Metroland/Torstar

“Our approach to funding journalism projects over the past few years has been overly reactive and grounded in a figure-it-out-as-we-go philosophy. We’re looking forward to learning with the experts at LMA and the other publishers in the cohort so we can be more strategic, proactive and structured in our approach to funding journalism projects.” 

— Levi Rickert, editor and publisher, Native News Online

“As a news organization committed to local reporting and keeping our audiences informed, we think this is a groundbreaking opportunity to not only develop strategies to acquire philanthropic support, but also connect with a cohort of like-minded journalists, who are also committed to serving their communities.”

— Terri Cope Walton, vice president and general manager, WJXT/WCWJ

“As a nonprofit news organization, we are thrilled to have access to such a valuable resource for engaging with philanthropic communities. We recognize the success of this cohort and believe it will bring greater success to our company. This formal opportunity will allow us to address an important need within our organization.”

— Janis Ware, publisher, The Atlanta Voice

“I am thrilled to be part of the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding. This opportunity opens a new chapter for The Kansas City Defender. I am eager to learn, share, and implement innovative strategies for fundraising that align with our mission and values. Not only will it help us become financially sustainable, but it will also provide us with the tools to maintain our growth and continue delivering award-winning content. Our participation in the Lab marks a significant step towards our goal of becoming a longstanding pillar in the landscape of Black digital news.”

— Ryan A. Sorrell, founder and editor-in-chief, The Kansas City Defender

Through participation in the lab, The St. Louis American is seeking to fund coverage of individuals, organizations and policy advocates involved in protecting voters’ rights working to enfranchise African American communities, and increase voter participation leading up to the 2024 elections and beyond.

— The St. Louis American

“Our education is never complete. Joining the LMA Lab is an exciting opportunity to expand my knowledge as I venture into journalism funding and build upon my experience in fundraising and partnerships.” 

— Harmony Trevino, director of development,
SE Region, McClatchy | The State, The Island Packet and The Sun News

“Being in publishing for more than 30 years, my quest for knowledge thrives. Today in the media, it is about evolution and sustainability. It is my hope to learn more about this new revenue source for local media through corporate foundations. For newspapers/media to survive, you have to be open to evolve. You have to look for alternative revenue sources. You have to be open to learning new things. LMA is positioned to teach us how to efficiently collaborate to reach sustainability.”

— Leo Cusimano, publisher, Dallas Voice | OUT North Texas

“We are thrilled to participate in the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding. Media outlets in New Jersey have been reducing their coverage of local news for many years and TAPinto has stepped into that void to enable local news to bloom in the news deserts left behind. More than 125 municipalities in New Jersey now have a TAPinto local news platform in their community, providing original local news reporting every day. Our franchise model for local news is now sustainable, scalable and profitable. Unfortunately, recently there has been a significant reduction in statehouse news reporting in the Garden State as well as virtual elimination of coverage of New Jersey’s congressional delegation. Like we have done on the local level in New Jersey, we believe TAPinto can help fill the void in coverage of the Statehouse and we have concluded that such journalism can best be funded long-term through philanthropy. We are excited to join the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding to help make meaningful New Jersey Statehouse reporting, provided through TAPinto’s platform to our large local audience, a reality.” 

— Michael Shapiro, founder and chief executive officer, TAPinto Local

Newsrooms will receive one-on-one coaching from our team of coaches, including Joaquin Alvarado, Joanne Heyman, Sam Johnston and Jennifer Preston. Frank Mungeam will once again lead the lab.The fourth cohort of the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding will run from May through November, with fundraising to be completed by December 31, 2023. LMA will publish case studies on publisher lessons and successes from the lab that can be applied across the news industry.