Funds from tech giants and private philanthropists such as the Knight Foundation have been making a difference for local media in the US.
And in her annual report, LMA chief executive Nancy Lane outlines project highlights from 2022 and plans for this year.
She starts with a success story: From the 60-year-old Sacramento Observer, which grew from fewer than four full-time employees to 14 in just 16 months, thanks to industry labs, accelerators and collaborations.
“As a participant in the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding, The Observer raised six figures to support the hiring of new journalists,” she says. “With a dedicated reporting team, The Observer can now focus on solutions to important community issues including education, health and racial inequities.
“Thanks to the learnings of the Knight x LMA BloomLab, The Observer grew overall revenue by 38 per cent in 2022. Through (LMA programme) Word In Black, the team grew digital revenue with branded content campaigns and more.”
Publisher Larry Lee, whose father founded the Black newspaper, shared these outcomes at an industry gathering last year hosted by the Knight Foundation. “Attendees stood and clapped, and I had tears in my eyes,” says Lane. “Everyone wanted to know how he did it.”
After consulting with hundreds of media companies on their business transformation strategies, LMA distributed UD$4.46 million directly back to those companies during 2022.
Programmes and initiatives included the Word In Black “digital startup like no other”, leading the way on solutions to racial inequities in America; LMA Lab for Journalism Funding, which has raised more than US$17 million for journalism projects from five cohorts over two years; and the Meta Branded Content Project which has generated US$80 million since its inception.
This year, the organisation is looking for more supporters to engage, partner and work with it on reinventing business models for news.
They include a new family/independent media lab focussed on sustainability and funded by the Google News Initiative; a new investment in climate justice reporting, audience development, newsletters and journalism infrastructure for Word In Black backed by a US$1 million contribution from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation; and expansion of LMA’s Covering Climate Collaborative – supporting local newsrooms reporting “on the front lines” of the global crisis, hiring more climate reporters and offering shared data journalism resources.
For more details, download the report.