The Local chosen for national “Lab for Journalism Funding”

by Staff
Posted 5/24/23

The Chestnut Hill Local was selected along with 15 other news organizations from across the United States and Canada.

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The Local chosen for national “Lab for Journalism Funding”


The Chestnut Hill Local, along with 15 other news organizations from across the United States and Canada, has been selected by the Local Media Association (LMA) as a participant in its fourth cohort of the Lab for Journalism Funding. 

The Lab was created to help news outlets “develop and execute strategies to fund essential local journalism via philanthropy.”  The six-month intensive lab runs from May through November. 

The Local was chosen from among scores of media outlets from North America, including newspapers, radio and television stations, and online-only news sites. Among the 15 other participants are organizations such as Metroland/Torstar, publishers of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper; the Detroit Free Press; Jacksonville, Florida television station WJXT, and the Spanish-language La Noticia in Charlotte, North Carolina, to name a few. 

The purpose of the Lab is to help media outlets acquire the skills necessary to find local partners who value local journalism to support projects that serve the civic good and inform the community. Each applicant for the Lab submitted a project proposal that it would undertake with the help of the Lab if accepted into the program. The Local’s project is the development of the fledgling Mt. Airy Local through the expansion of news coverage of Mt. Airy, Germantown and other Northwest neighborhoods, and the creation of a marketing plan to increase readership and subscription levels. 

“We are committed not just to our survival, but to our growth, so that we can continue to serve our communities with an independent, professional newsroom for generations to come,” said John Derr, the publisher of the Local. “ I believe philanthropy is going to play an important role in obtaining the resources necessary to put us on the road to sustainability. This newspaper has gone decades without any significant injection of resources or improvements in technology or infrastructure. Our staff has done an amazing job with the limited tools they have.  We’ve accomplished a lot. We want to do more.” 

The Lab for Journalism Funding, a program of the Local Media Foundation, is operated by LMA with ongoing support from the Google News Initiative. Since its launch in September 2020, the lab has trained 70 news organizations, helping them to raise $17.7 collectively, to fund community service 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. 

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

The next step for The Local is to find a project manager who will learn from the bi-weekly Lab sessions and the monthly one-on-one coaching, complete the lab assignments and carry out the Local’s strategy for this project, and then future projects and events. 

When asked what the Local’s goals are for participating in the lab, Derr said, “The days of newspapers supporting their news operations with just 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 Chestnut Hill and all Northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods will benefit from a team of independent local newsgathering and reporting professionals in perpetuity.” 

The fourth cohort of the Lab for Journalism Funding runs from May to November 2023. 

John Derr can be reached at or 215.248.8817