Amalie Nash, most recently senior vice president of local news and audience development for Gannett/The USA TODAY Network, has signed on with LMA to help coach the 12 news organizations that are part of the Family and Independent Media Sustainability Lab. Nash will also lead an Aug. 2 session at LMA Fest in Chicago titled “C-Suite Roundtable: Strategies to Grow Audience.”

We asked Nash for her thoughts on audience development, local media sustainability and opportunities for the industry. Here’s what she said:

Can you share a bit about your background and your journey toward working with local news outlets?

I’ve worked in local news my entire career, starting when I got a job at a weekly newspaper just outside Ann Arbor, Michigan, while I was still in high school. I was always drawn to journalism for its ability to inform and make a difference in people’s lives. I worked as a reporter for a number of years before moving into editing and digital journalism in the early years of the internet. My career has included working as a news director for (The Ann Arbor News), senior editor at the Detroit Free Press, executive editor at The Des Moines Register and senior vice president of local news and audience development for Gannett/The USA TODAY Network. Most recently, I’ve been a senior advisor for the National Trust for Local News.

What does it mean to you to help local news outlets become sustainable?

For local news to be sustainable, we need to ensure we have the right business model, content strategy and revenue streams. These won’t be the same for every organization –– some may see success with membership models, while others may lean into philanthropy, for instance. But what is true for all is that sustainability includes an intense audience focus, and content and advertising solutions that ensure the outlet is a relevant part of people’s daily lives.

What are the core components of the program you’ll be running?

As part of the FIMS Lab, I’ll be focusing on how to help publishers with audience development and tactics to push past digital subscription plateaus. I’m also eager to discuss content strategy and how to evolve newsrooms to become more data-driven. I have good familiarity with different paywall models, onboarding journeys, conversion topics and ways to promote value propositions.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the media industry today?

I think our greatest challenge is finding the right business models for sustainability and growth and positioning ourselves as essential to people’s lives. If we aren’t a daily habit or nearly daily habit –– giving people information that helps them navigate their lives, inspires them and provides them value –– we are unlikely to gain their loyalty and support. This Pew Research data has stuck with me since I first read it: 71% of the people it surveyed believe local media are doing well financially, and only 14% say they’ve personally paid for local news within the past year. We need to flip those numbers.

What do you think is the greatest opportunity for the media industry today?

I think our greatest opportunity lies in expanding our audience and reaching people in new and different ways. When I started in this business, we had one platform –– the newspaper. Now, we have so many avenues for reaching people, including importantly, underserved and marginalized communities who were not well served by the media in the past. Also, seeing the focus on the importance of local news, from new start-ups and philanthropic funding to pending legislation, has been heartening.