Introducing the new Local News Lab

February 10, 2017

We don’t know what the future of media and journalism holds, but we do know that no matter what technological, economic, or cultural shifts occur, a vibrant and resilient press is central to a healthy democracy. This is a priority of our work at the Democracy Fund. As we pursue efforts to strengthen local news and participation we want to share what we learn, provide an opportunity to highlight the work of our grantees, and engage with the community of people working on these issues.

In that spirit, today we are re-launching the Local News Lab as a testing ground for the future of journalism. The site will be managed by our Public Square Program as a resource for those working at the intersection of media and democracy. It will be a site of inquiry, experimentation, and learning where the Democracy Fund and its grantees and partners will explore new models, tools, and practices for creating a robust and diverse public square. Through the Local News Lab we will share what we learn, invite your input, and shine a spotlight on the people helping make journalism more sustainable, collaborative and engaged with its community.

The Local News Lab was originally developed by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation through a grant from the Knight Foundation. The Democracy Fund was also an early supporter of the Dodge Foundation’s work. We look forward to building on their pioneering work developing an ecosystem approach to transforming the landscape of local news in New Jersey and continuing to work with them as partners on this site.

As an introduction to the work of the Local News Lab, check out these featured posts and research:

  1. Read the latest from the Lab: dive into a topic of your choice from community engagement to business models to philanthropy.
  2. Let the Lab guide you: our new detailed guides offer advice on how to help newsrooms develop new revenue models.
  3. Learn from the Lab: don’t miss this report on lessons learned in the first 18 months of experiments undertaken by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

You can still expect to find information about the Democracy Fund’s grantmaking around journalism, civic information, and participation here on our main website. The Local News Lab will focus, not on how to get a grant from Democracy Fund, but rather on what our grantees and partners are doing and learning in the world. As a systems change organization we are committed to learning, iterating, and partnering in ways that strengthen both our work and the field at large.

We understand that the challenges we face will take patience, and persistent and deep partnership. We see this as a chance to invite people into our work and be transparent about what we are trying and how it is working. Want to talk to us more about the Lab? Email us at

Democracy Fund
1200 17th Street NW Suite 300,
Washington, DC 20036