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A NewStart Introduction

Today we'd like to introduce you to another member of our second cohort of NewStart fellows. 

Larry Graham spent the majority of his career leading sports departments in newsrooms across the country. He's worked at, The San Diego Union-Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Kansas City Star, to name a few. Most recently, he served as deputy director of local news transformation at the American Press Institute where he built the website. He is also on the board of directors for the APSE Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering diversity in sports departments, and co-chairs its flagship program, the Diversity Fellowship. In addition he is a faculty associate at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant for Loyola University New Orleans School of Communication & Design.

As part of his NewStart research, Larry wants to help community newspapers survive and thrive. There are significant diversity issues within news organizations across the country, as documented in articles like this one from earlier this year. If a newsroom isn't diverse, it doesn't represent the community it covers. And if the community doesn't feel connected to the newsroom, it will look elsewhere for its news and information and leave that legacy publication behind.

I invited Larry to share some of his thoughts on diversity, his goals in the NewStart program, and what it means to all of us in the industry. Take it away, Larry...
A series of incidents stand out in my mind from when I was performing some consulting work in addition to a full-time job. I shared a couple of those incidents with my respective supervisors. One involved borderline racism and the other implicit bias. They both dealt with the color of my skin, and the reactions were completely different.

One organization offered me hope for what journalism could be. The other, unfortunately, reminded me of what journalism still is.

That’s one of the many reasons I’m building a company that helps identify and destroy barriers to advancement for diverse journalists. We'll support their career growth and help journalists find a home with the right organization.

I can't do this alone. Through the NewStart local news ownership initiative, I'll gain a better understanding of the business side of journalism, and I'll learn more about the thousands of small, local newsrooms that remain profitable and welcome the help in diversifying their newsrooms.

One of the longest stints in my career was at The Lee's Summit Journal, a small, bi-weekly newspaper outside of Kansas City, Missouri. It was also one of the most inclusive organizations I've ever been a part of, and where I developed lifelong friendships.

Now, this isn’t an overnight endeavor. This is an uphill climb with a boulder on your back, barefoot in the rain and mud, with no time for breaks.

But so what.

We already know some of the specific hindrances to diverse newsrooms. We’ve all heard the phrase, “I don’t know where to find diverse candidates.” Oftentimes, that’s the end of the story.

Instead, it fuels my desire to build a company that helps organizations find the most qualified diverse job candidates. We’ll solve the diversity pipeline problem while erecting new systems for mutual learning between job candidates and the hiring managers.

In short, we’re going to change the world.
Thanks, Larry, and welcome to the NewStart program! If you would like to see how Larry can help your organization set and reach diversity goals, or if you would just like more information about what he's doing, feel free to send him an email at or on Twitter @ByLarryGraham.

If you'd like to join Larry in our second year of the program and earn a master's degree in Media Solutions and Innovation from WVU's Reed College of Media, there's still time to apply. Our next cohort will start learning virtually at the end of June, so if you want in, check out the program details here, and then follow the instructions here to apply.


Benefit From AI Research

You may have heard the news this week about the Knight Foundation supporting a new initiative by The Local News Lab that will determine how artificial intelligence could support the sustainability of local news organizations.

In particular, The Local News Lab will be doing research in three areas, according to the release:
  • Devise and deploy experiments to test new data- and AI-informed approaches that enhance reader revenue
  • Accelerate development and distribution of open-source software projects that automate time-intensive decisions and often manual implementation of subscription strategies
  • Build community by assembling working groups, documenting the team’s learnings, and establishing a platform where news organizations can share and build on each other’s experiences testing business strategies
The good news is that local newsrooms are the focus of all of this testing and research. And this is how some of you can play a role: if you work at a local newsroom and are looking to optimize your reader revenue strategies and learn more about the intersection of AI, editorial and revenue, then fill out this form and you might be able to benefit from all of this.

Quick Hits

Here is a lot of informative news from around the world of local journalism. Enjoy! 

NewStart: Check out NewStart fellow Crystal Good's latest contribution to Scalawag on the CROWN Act as she continues to develop her own media outlet at

Learn: "Editions, at their best, should attempt to reintroduce the limitation of print space. They should make editors acutely aware of the attention commitment they are asking of the reader, and of the reader's potential need at the time. Journalists have a very odd fascination for the idea that more stories, and more choices, are always better than less. We need to remember that we are not our audience, and their needs at any time are very different from ours." "The digital dominance may happen as early as mid-2024 if online subscriptions exceed their historical growth or print shows an even steeper decline, according to Mather Economics. The consulting firm recommends newspapers develop a strategy to raise prices on digital subscriptions to make up for print losses." "Putting the customer as the centre-point of a publishing business is logical. At The Economist, this is done by focusing on customer lifetime value. At each stage of the funnel, The Economist focuses on 4 elements: content, habit nudges, digital experience, paywalls and registration walls. This ensures that customers are getting the best possible experience. After all, the more engaged a customer is, the more likely they are to pay."  (There's a lot more in this article than just this. Probably worth your while to click through on this one...) From Twitter: "Today is the kickoff of our second annual joint fundraiser! You can donate at 43 community, local, and independent media outlets have come together to raise funds for the outlets that kept Chicagoans informed during a turbulent year. #SaveChicagoMedia" "'News' comes from many sources these days, and the ownership of many of those sources is far too obscure – even unknowable. That needs to end. I have created a set of indices at Harvard to bring light to the chaos."

(Perhaps just as worthwhile is the list of nonprofit local news media donors across the country. You can find that here.) "After punching below its weight for years, firm is building new tech and experimenting with charging users." Roblox crushed its first quarter as a public company earlier this week, proving it’s more of a game-creation platform than a game per se. In fact, Robox has become a bellwether for a user-generated gaming medium well on its way to being a cornerstone of a wider creator economy." U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and U.S. Representative Marc Veasey (D-Texas) reintroduced the Future of Local News Act, legislation aimed at rescuing the struggling local news industry. The Future of Local News Act would create a committee to study the state of local journalism and offer recommendations to Congress on the actions it can take to support local news organizations. "After a decade or so of fits and starts, Congress may be ready to pass a postal-reform bill, and a bipartisan measure introduced by key committee leaders has a provision that would help rural newspapers." “I think what really shines a spotlight on what’s broken about traditional news models is that in 2020, basically every news organization had record traffic — but a lot of them weren’t able to convert that into revenue,” Gilchrist says. “I think that’s where a lot of traditional outlets have really struggled to innovate, in terms of how to serve those audiences.”

This An' 'At: “Our company has a noble purpose to provide local news and ad content, mom and pops and such, to these small- and medium-sized communities that big media has forgotten, and that time will forget if we’re not there,” he said. “It’s agonizing when we look at all the numbers and see a community isn’t going to support you.” "Using a $495,000 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust over the next three years, High will build a team of journalists who will publish in-depth stories about issues facing Bladen, Columbus, Robeson and Scotland counties in southeastern North Carolina, one of the poorest areas in the state." "There’s no substitute for someone in the community fired up about creating something. But you can make it easier for them, so if there’s a group of citizens or civic leaders who want to solve this problem, they can get help."


That's all for this week. 

You can follow NewStart on Twitter @wvunewstart, and you can @ me @jimiovino. You can follow us on the Facebooks here.

Interested in supporting our students in Year 2 and beyond? I'd be happy to talk! Wouldn't it be great to offer more fellowships and scholarships? You can help!

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