The association, representing news outlets around the country, is preparing a strategy to help find new revenue sources for media outlets facing disruption in their business models.
According to the Local Media Association (LMA), it’s never launched an initiative in its nearly 50-year history as large as the one it just launched.
That initiative, called Accelerate Local, aims to help develop and discover new business model approaches for local journalism—and push them through the stratosphere.
It’s an approach that LMA President Nancy Lane says is particularly necessary in an era when the news itself is facing frequent disruption.
“Local news matters more than ever, but the traditional business models have been profoundly disrupted, leading to an astounding rate of decline of quality journalism around the country,” Lane said in a news release. “With no existing replacement model, there’s an urgent need for new, bold business models that ensure the future of local news now.”
LMA says that the new accelerator program, 18 months in the making, is looking for big innovations, not small ones. With the accelerator, the association plans to identify pain points for customers, work with journalists and media figures to help build the experiments, test them at a smaller scale, and continue to push them out in larger-scale tests. Whether or not a given test is a success, the Accelerate Local program will share the results with the industry.
“Consumer and local business needs have changed, and continue to change,” explained Peter Newton, who will serve as Accelerate Local’s managing director, in the release. “We can help local media better understand those dynamics, and seize the opportunity they present.”
So far, LMA says three separate projects are already underway that work in the spirit of the Accelerate Local experiment—two from Google News Initiative (the GNI Data and Digital Subscriptions Labs), and the Branded Content Project, an initiative being launched with the help of Facebook. But despite the big names, the organization isn’t limiting its plan of attack to tech giants—and is calling for input from media companies, foundations, tech providers, and others to help push the project forward.
“With no existing replacement model to support local journalism, the need is urgent for new businesses that effect profound, not incremental, change,” LMA says on its website.