There’s a saying that people invariably attribute to wherever they live: if you don’t like the weather in [PLACE] wait five minutes. That said, more often than not, the opposite is true. Whether for a sprint, or for the real world, a great way to predict tomorrow’s weather is to look at yesterday’s. You won’t always be right (and likely never exactly right), but you will be close enough to not die from exposure to the elements – or misread your velocity.
Last September, CEO Austin Smith was named an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. He served as a mentor to the Institute’s community of grantees, most of whom were building tools to sustain local media. Through the Institute’s Innovation Grants program, their grantees and entrepreneurs in residence work together as a team, sharing their findings with each other and the public. The program’s “venture philanthropy” approach is designed to be hands-on, supporting experimentation and entrepreneurship.
As part of this program, Austin did extensive research on local news organizations, studying the opportunities and challenges of their unique revenue models, as well as investigating what their path to future success and sustainability looks like. He has shared pieces of this work at WordCamp for Publishers (read our recap here and watch his talk here), which was held in August in Chicago. The Nieman Journalism Lab covered Austin’s talk and research through its WCPUB conference recap and an excerpt of his report.
Austin’s entire report for the Lenfest Institute, The Narrow Path for Local News, is now available at https://narrowpathforlocalnews.org. Austin and the rest of Alley hope its publication will help support and inform publishers and maintain the ongoing vitality and presence of local news. If you are a local publisher or are interested in the future of the news, check out the report and don’t hesitate to get in touch to continue the discussion. Let us know what you think about the challenges facing the industry today — and how we can help your organization with next steps.
The Lenfest Institute for Journalism is a nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to develop and support sustainable business models for great local journalism. It was founded in 2016 by the late cable television entrepreneur H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest. Lenfest gifted to the Institute an initial endowment of $20 million, which has since been supplemented by other donors, for investment in innovative news initiatives, technology, and new models for sustainable journalism. Lenfest also gifted his ownership of the Philadelphia Media Network (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News, and philly.com, the Philadelphia region’s largest local news website). These news properties now serve as a live lab for the Institute’s innovation efforts.
The Institute’s goal is to help transform the news industry in the digital age to ensure that high-quality local journalism remains a cornerstone of our democracy. The Institute’s Innovation Grants program funds individuals and organizations building news and information products that engage and inform local communities.