Local Media Foundation has named eight Black-owned local news organizations to participate in the second cohort of the Knight x LMA BloomLab, as follows:

“My staff and I are so excited to have been selected to participate in Cohort 2 of the Knight x LMA BloomLab. This will give us the opportunity to improve our digital footprint in Cincinnati and the state of Ohio. BloomLab will improve my digital team’s knowledge base regarding the needs and demands of producing a digital publication [i.e. the Cincinnati Herald website]. The future of our company one day is as a digital publication. I understand that participation in BloomLab gives us the needed tools and training to create and improve digital publications for the minority community, said Walter L. White, publisher, Cincinnati Herald.

The Cincinnati Herald is the sister publication to the Dayton Defender, which is owned by Sesh Communications located in Cincinnati, Ohio.

BloomLab and LMF leaders selected these media outlets after an extensive application process which included a panel of outside experts who reviewed applications, and individual interviews conducted by the three BloomLab directors,  John Celestand, Apryl Pilolli and Robert Walker-Smith.

The review panelists were Maple Walker-Lloyd, LMF board member and director of development and community engagement at Block Club Chicago; Peter Lamb, The Branded Content Project; Frances “Toni” Draper, CEO and president of The Afro-American Newspapers; and Tracy Brown, LMA board member and managing editor at WBEZ in Chicago, in addition to the three BloomLab directors.  

The Knight x LMA BloomLab is a three-year immersive experience with 26 Black-owned local media outlets, with initial funding of $3.2 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The participating organizations will receive technology grants of $50,000, with additional funding expected to increase those amounts. The first lab cohort includes 10 news organizations and its work will soon move into its second year.

Cohort 2 will build on early learnings from Cohort 1, and concentrate on the lab’s three focus areas; technology upgrades, business transformation consulting and shared learning opportunities.

“Our second cohort represents a fantastic mix of publishers and markets,” said Nancy Lane, CEO, Local Media Association and Local Media Foundation. “As we read the applications and letters from the CEOs, it was apparent that these eight were truly ready to transform to the next level in their path to long-term sustainability. We are very grateful to the Knight Foundation for funding this important work and can’t wait to get started.”

The eight publishers will receive training and one-on-one coaching from the lab’s three directors and outside experts. Each publisher will also receive in-person visits from the directors, who will work with each team to advance technology tools and implementation, sales outcomes and organizational capacity.

“We are thrilled to welcome eight new publishers to join the great work already being done in the BloomLab,” said John Celestand, program director of the Knight x LMA BloomLab. “Each publisher will bring unique attributes that will foster collaboration and new learnings not only for this cohort, but for Cohort 1 as well.” 

Leaders from all eight organizations will meet with members of the BloomLab and LMF teams on November 2-3 in Atlanta for the official Cohort 2 launch event.

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