Frank Mungeam, chief innovation officer at the Local Media Association, discusses his “Sustaining Philanthropy for Journalism” report released last month. He emphasizes the importance of community engagement and listening as the foundation for developing impactful journalism projects that resonate with local needs. Mungeam outlines a strategic approach to building a sustainable philanthropy model, starting with grassroots support and leveraging impactful journalism to attract funders. Beyond philanthropy, he delves into the broader landscape of innovation and product development within the industry, highlighting the need for local news outlets to adapt to the evolving demands of their audiences. Mungeam envisions a future where a diverse and inclusive local news ecosystem thrives, supported by a blend of philanthropy, community engagement, and innovative content strategies.

Episode chapters:
(02:05) – The burning questions facing local news
(09:17) – Listening for audience needs and the Jobs to Be Done framework
(16:09) – The challenges in local TV news
(21:25) – Taking a risk with Next with Kyle Clark in Denver
(28:10) – Getting outside your legacy lane and mining your archives
(34:56) – Sustaining Philanthropy for Journalism report: Local funders needed
(38:59) – How can philanthropy be sustainable?
(47:22) – Fundraising as a path to better community service, storytelling and product development
(52:04) – Impact is the secret sauce of local journalism
(56:21) – Start with listening then build a philanthropy funnel
(59:49) – Rapid-fire questions

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Bio:

Frank MungeamFrank Mungeam is Chief Innovation Officer for the Local Media Association, which works with over 3,000 local media brands (newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, digital news sites & more), as well as several hundred R&D partners in the industry. LMA’s mission is to help local media companies develop sustainable business models for news.

Mungeam leads LMA’s Center for Journalism Funding, focused on developing philanthropic and collaborative models for supporting local journalism; and he leads the Covering Climate Collaborative, a network of 25 local newsrooms and six science partners reporting on the effects of climate change, climate justice, and climate solutions. Prior to joining LMA in September 2020, Mungeam was Knight Professor of Practice in TV News Innovation at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, he worked with Cronkite News students and faculty on news story and format innovations; coached cohorts of local TV broadcasters in the Table Stakes performance-driven transformation model; and published innovation case studies via the Cronkite News Lab. Previously, Mungeam was VP of Digital Content for TEGNA’s portfolio of local broadcast stations and news websites. His extensive media experience includes radio, print, TV production and digital.

Mungeam has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a master’s degree in Leadership and Communication from Gonzaga, and is a frequent speaker and writer on news transformation, innovation, and leadership. Mungeam lives on a floating home in Portland, Oregon and is the proud author of one son and two books, including Dream It, Do It, which profiles the repeatable habits of successful innovators.

Full transcript:

(recorded via Riverside.fm; transcript automated via Castmagic.io, mostly unedited)

Frank Mungeam [00:00:00]:I'm so proud of everybody who was involved in keeping the faith behind that experiment when all you were seeing in the short run was losing the audience you'd had. So I do think I mean, I keep that example, alive and top of mind constantly in the work that I've done in every job since because real transformation has to include real risk. And if you're not facing the possibility of dramatic failure, you're probably not taking a big enough risk to create meaningful transformation. 

Tim Regan-Porter [00:00:41]: Welcome to the Local News Matters podcast, where we explore pathways to stronger journalism, better businesses, and healthier communities. I'm Tim Regan-Porter, CEO of the Colorado Press Association.  

This episode I’m excited to talk to Frank Mungeam, the chief innovation officer for the Local Media Association.  LMA works with over 3,000 local media brands with a mission to help local media companies develop sustainable business models for news. 

Frank leads LMA’s Center for Journalism Funding and its Covering Climate Collaborative. Prior to LMA, he was Knight Professor of Practice in TV News Innovation at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism and was VP of Digital Content for TEGNA’s portfolio of local broadcast stations and news websites. He has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a master’s degree Gonzaga. 

Frank authored LMA’s “Sustaining philanthropy for journalism” report, which was just released at the end of February. 

If you like this episode and what we're doing more generally, please follow in your favorite podcast app, leave us a five star review on Apple podcasts and tell your friends about us. This is a side project and labor of love and your support means a lot. You can find past episodes, full transcripts and relevant links, and sign up for our newsletter at localnewsmatterspodcast.com or for lazy typists like me at lnmpod.com. You can also follow us on most social media channels @lnmpod. 

And now I bring you Frank Mungeam. 

The burning questions facing local news 

Tim Regan-Porter [00:02:05]: You just released a new report sustaining philanthropy for journalism. So I'm looking forward to digging into that. But first, I'm gonna cover a couple other things and just get some, sort of situate the report and the work you've been doing and the state of the industry. So first, your title at LMA, chief innovation officer, what does that mean? 

Mungeam [00:02:31]: I ask myself that same question. I'm innately suspicious of anyone who has innovation in their title and here I am, that guy. Less facetiously, you know, I think my focus and LMA's focus, right, business sustainability for local news. And specifically for me, through really the last three jobs that I've had, you know, my interest, perhaps. Obsession is leaning into technology and using it and leveraging it to adapt and, at minimum, keep up with our audience and ideally lead our audiences. And, you know, there's so there's lots to keep one busy if you have those goals because, you know, legacy media, as the term gets used, has in many ways missed past opportunities. And so I mean I guess what the innovation in my title means to me is looking always for ways to better serve our audiences not just in the journalism but in the business strategy and technology. 

Regan-Porter [00:03:45]: You've been working with a number of newsrooms at LMA. Of course, you worked with a lot of TEGNA news rooms when you were at TEGNA and previously Gannett, formerly Gannett. What do you see as you've worked with these newsrooms and you survey the landscape? What are the big issues and the burning questions facing local news as an industry? Okay. 

Mungeam [00:04:05]: Just reminder, how long is the podcast? 

Regan-Porter [00:04:08]: Couple days. 

Mungeam [00:04:09]: Okay. Good. Probably take a couple days to cover all the disruption. I mean, the original sin perhaps we might say of, we're the local journalism is we the journalists, and I I've come up on the content side, so I can say we when I mean me. Is that we have been oh so proud of the journalism and often have disdained the business side. I mean, I worked in newsrooms throughout my career where, like, the salespeople knew to stay on the second floor and were literally afraid to come into the newsroom. And that's not to say we don't have and need editorial sales firewalls. 

Mungeam [00:04:49]: It is to say that dismissing and being actively disinterested in the business side is a is a habit of local journalism that has not served us well in this new era where we do not have a monopoly where there are more than one to two newspapers and four local TV stations and radio station news radio station to choose from. In a highly competitive environment, being attentive to the business shifts is essential. So, I mean, to me, that's the original sin that we continue to pay the price for and our challenge to, you know, get over that and adapt and be more nimble at evolving in the way that our audiences evolve. So the second, the other half of my answer to your question would be that, which is you know look to our audiences. Our audiences have adapted very quickly to a dramatically changing information ecosystem and they, you know, we've gone from a few TV stations to the disruption of cable to now the total disruption of the thing, 4,000,000 owns a TV screen, by streaming. And look at all the niche streaming channels. I was just doing a TV station visit a couple weeks ago and I went around the room. And every and these are folks who work in local TV news. And every single person, as I can recall, had somewhere between two and five niche streaming services that they separately paid subscriptions for. 

Mungeam [00:06:13]: Look at the number of people who say they get their news primarily from Instagram, TikTok, Facebook. So that's the landscape that we find ourselves in and so it's just urgent on all of us to follow the audience, meet them where they are, and be much more responsive to, you know, what are the information needs of our community rather than living in this world that frankly, just doesn't exist anymore, a world where we got to decide what the news was, when we gave it to you, and how we distribute it to you. News is a conversation now. If we wanna be part of that conversation, we have to adapt to the audience, not the other way around. 

Regan-Porter [00:06:57]: On your first point, I see that's changed a lot. Do you still see sort of a willful ignorance of the business side still being a problem? Or do you think that's mostly in the past? Or am I just talking to a select group of people? 

Mungeam [00:07:12]: Yeah. I think, you know, you and I probably both gravitate toward the folks who have a future because they recognize, without sustainability, you don't have news. You know, I work with enough news organizations. I mean, I probably, through LMA, you know, touch a 100 newsrooms every quarter at least or maybe every month, and there's still work to be done. Let's put it that way. And sometimes it's, you know, folks doing the work hands on keyboards, I like to say, are the ones who get it and leadership does not. Sometimes leadership vividly understands the magnitude of the transformation, and they are having trouble persuading the folks. You know? I still remember, you know, working in Oregon, and the Oregonian famously had a an agreement with its staff that there were two things for which you couldn't lose your job, and and they were, in in my view, the two things that, like, everybody has to have their job be at risk. 

Mungeam [00:08:10]: Changes in technology and changes in audience, like well is there anything more essential to our adaptation? So I do think we can't throw the party yet, celebrating everyone is aligned around business. And even, you know, to parse that, and maybe that's a segue, we'll talk about philanthropy, the role of philanthropy. Right? But not all revenue opportunities are seen as equal. And so even when you have folks who are acknowledging the need to focus on business sustainability, there can be some very dismissive responses to certain kinds of revenue streams and certain kinds of product offerings. So, you know, how are we defining, are we capital J Journalism is our one and only product, or are we open to being part of an information ecosystem and some information that folks in communities really, really want and need might not fit our old definition of J. So I would actually include that in my umbrella statement that we need to up our game around thinking holistically, around sustainability. 

Listening for audience needs and the Jobs to Be Done framework 

Regan-Porter [00:09:17]: And so what you're getting at there is really the intersection between audience and business. Right? That we have a lot of, I think, healthy talk now about talking to the community, listening to the community. I don't know that we're taking our business ears and listening for product ideas and what are the real information needs, that community needs. How do you think about tying those two together and really finding products that either people will pay for or that you can get enough reach that advertisers and philanthropists will care because they're reaching a large segment of the community? 

Mungeam [00:09:54]: Yeah. It's a great question. I think you and I may have even had the conversation about the jobs to be done framework. Clayton Christensen is famous for his Innovator's Dilemma book. I still think only 5% of the people who reference it have actually read it. It's pretty dry. You know? Lots of stuff about microchips. A much more accessible version I found was his very short booklet, like, I don't know, 70 pages about jobs to be done for news, and a graduate student was part of that. 

Mungeam [00:10:25]: I still think that's my favorite provocative read about how to rethink, you know, to your earlier question about what does it mean to think about the business of journalism. I love that framework of working backwards from what are the jobs to be done that the audience will air quote, I'm making air quotes with my fingers, hire us to do, and that is how I get to that distinction between capital J definition of Journalism leaves out some really valuable essential information jobs to be done for which people in our communities will hire someone, and it could be us if we're willing to invite them in, treat them like a partner, and create products that solve for these needs and jobs. I mean, I'll go back to my, you know, earlier TV days when news apps were a revolutionary thing. You know? Having a weather app from your trusted local—I mean, it's the local TV meteorologist is still kind of the go-to person when it comes to trust for the local forecast, and that was a job to be done. And so migrating the TV forecast that you really, you know, had to wait till 5:16 in the newscast, you got the t's off the top, but you really had to hang around for 16 minutes to really get the information that you wanted. That's a job to be done. If you don't serve that up, you know, we all know the iPhone will just hand you 80% of that with no effort. And so, you know, the idea of a local weather app was one of those attempts to answer that question, what's a job to be done for which the audience will hire someone? How can we be sure we use our trust and our reach and that they hire us? So I think, actually, when you start with that kind of a framework, which is centered on community, not on us, it's like we're in an election year, I hear, kind of a big deal. 

Mungeam [00:12:23]: So what are all the jobs that the average normal forget the, you know, the divisive politics and all that. Just blocking and tackling. What are the basic information needs people have around? Like, if I'm not registered, how do I how and where can I get registered? If I am registered, how do I know for sure that you see enough float by in media that the average consumer could worry reasonably? Like, am I registered? Do I need to do anything? Do I need to update anything? Like, how can you answer? Who will be the one they hire to answer those kinds of questions? How can I get a mail-in ballot? Does my state offer mail-in ballots? Is it too late to sign up for mail-in ballots? If I'm going to vote in person, where will I be voting in person? How can I learn more about the candidates? Those are all jobs to be done. Why wouldn't we want the audience to hire us? Yes. Every newspaper I know, you know, does articles about those things, but are there other ways to productize the solution around being educated, informed, engaged voters. Get answers to your most common questions. So I think if you start with that framework, which centers around community, ask what are the information jobs to be done? Where in the—Venn I love my Venn diagrams. Who knew that would be, from high school, a useful concept? 

Mungeam [00:13:40]: Where are the overlaps between what the audience will actually hire someone to do and what we are well-positioned, you know, our right to win. Where do we have a right to win? And in that frame, there are all kinds of jobs to be done that can be productized and that you could build business models around. 

Regan-Porter [00:13:57]: And I don't see nearly enough experimentation around that very idea. I mean, if we were on top of our game, apps like Yelp, The Weather Channel, you know, any number of those—Wikipedia itself might have come out of a newsroom if we were thinking about what do people wanna know and when how do they wanna get it. We had the information. We were just so article-centric and focused on getting that article out and moving on to the next thing that we were asleep at the will. 

Mungeam [00:14:24]: Yeah. Well, and there's a bit of Groundhog Day, right, that we just have to look in the mirror and say, mea culpa. I mean, one of those groundhog moments was Craigslist, you know, the classifieds. Craigslist should have been done by a newspaper chain. Right? You know, I mean that that was a classic, almost the archetypal example. Unfortunately, we have continued to repeat the mistake, so you know you just want to learn from those misses to see what others have done well, who have carved out niche areas of expertise, and just reask the question from the lens of, you know, your audience. What do they need now? What are we good at? Where do those two things overlap? How can we build a solution that works for the audience? And if you do that, you're probably gonna be able to come up with a business model to support it. 

Regan-Porter [00:15:16]: Absolutely. And while some of those may sound like yesterday's battles, information needs are constantly evolving. The technology is constantly evolving. We could get into AI. But there are a lot, there are constantly new jobs to be done and new ways to serve it. 

Mungeam [00:15:29]: I mean, AI completely refreshes the entire conversation. Right? If you think you're like, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We had that chat 5 years ago. You know, new this week. Right? Text to video coming widely to audiences everywhere. How will that radically transform jobs to be done? And who else has the ability to do a job we thought we owned? That's the other half of it, right, is being not being Pollyanna about your past right to win is not a promise of future success. 

Mungeam [00:15:58]: And that's, I think, how we got into a lot of these challenging situations is assuming that we would always have the strengths that we have always had. 

The challenges in local TV news 

Regan-Porter [00:16:09]: I wanna touch on TV real quickly, writ large. A lot of the headlines that we've seen in the past month have been around newspapers, print products, and digital only sites, you know, layoffs at, you know, the LA Times. I guess CNN did announce some layoffs. But we don't talk much about what's going on in local TV news and how cord-cutting is affecting that. You know, TV stations tend not to go out of business, but that does not mean that that will continue to be the case with cord cutting. And even well before that, that local news programming will be significantly impacted. So having come out of that world, what do you see on the horizon for local TV news? 

Mungeam [00:16:53]: I'm just as concerned about the future fate of local TV news. And in many markets, you know, this is I think underreported in many markets, the leading local TV news stations stepped up its accountability reporting, stepped up its investigative reporting in the hollowing out of the local newspaper that had historically done much of that work, you know? So there have been some successes in local TV that that I think don't get as much attention, but without getting too too wonky, you know, the local TV news has been able to delay the the financial pressures that have that have plagued newspapers, thanks to retransmission consent fees, which have been more robust and lasted longer probably than many folks expected. But that's just extra runway. That's not an infinite runway. That bill is coming due. I actually have a greater concern. I mean, you mentioned cord-cutting. I would propose I don't have a cool name for this yet, but just over the holidays, I had a bit of my own epiphany as a long time local broadcast person. 

Mungeam [00:18:02]: That problem now isn't cord-cutting. It's who owns the landing screen of the object formerly known as the television set. TVs are now like microwaves, I mean you can get a 50-inch TV for a couple hundred dollars. So lots and lots of folks have bought smart smart TVs in the last three months, six months, 12 months. Prices are so low. This is the new TV. On the new TV your local station is not on the landing screen. The landing screen is full of apps. Those apps are all a new set of players, Hulu, Disney, Apple, Amazon Prime Video, on and on. 

Mungeam [00:18:48]: Find me—I mean, this is an exercise that some colleagues of mine have done in a local TV news station. Fire up the new smart TV and run the clock on, try to find your local free TV news station. So that to me is the immediate existential threat is that local TV news has been eliminated from the landing screen. I mean, two years ago, over two years ago, I think we tipped from predominantly live linear viewing on television to predominantly on demand. You know, and so streaming, chew choosing your content versus just passively receiving it. This is a different shift. This is, equivalent to it doesn't help to have a front page of a newspaper when everybody is consuming on digital. 

Mungeam [00:19:37]: It doesn't help to have a great website when everybody has moved to a smartphone. So the disruption of the landing screen of the thing formerly known as TV, where local TV were your first channels. When you turned on your old TV, there was functionally a local monopoly on the first shot. We had to do our job poorly and send you up-channel. Like, even in the cable environment, there might have been 800 channels, but you started channel 268 in Portland. We're the 3 local TV news stations. So that to me is the disruption that has not yet fully been absorbed but is imminent. And any news organization that has been late to develop its own streaming and VOD apps is going to be really challenged on discoverability, like literally having even the audiences who want to see you be able to find you. 

Mungeam [00:20:34]: Over the holidays, I literally was at a holiday dinner where there were two people at the table, and you can guess their age, which is the other problem facing local TV, who literally were asking the equivalent of help desk questions. How can I get m,  insert local TV news station here, on my new TV set? They literally couldn't figure it out, and there was a conversation around the table as the younger demo tried to explain to the older demo how to do that. And maybe my son said, my adult son, said in front of his dad who he knows works on TV, why would you want to do that? So that's what we're up against. So no. I would not be resting easy for a local TV. We all have a, well, the first principles challenge is what are you providing that is essential to your audience? And then how can you make it easy to get that? 

Taking a risk with Next with Kyle Clark in Denver 

Regan-Porter [00:21:25]: Well, on that note, let's pivot to some bright spots. You've done a number of case studies. You work with some newsrooms that have seen some successes. But before we go to anything you've done at LMA, I wanna go all the way back to, starting “Next with Kyle Clark” here in Denver because I think that's a really interesting example of what it took to innovate and the metrics that could have led you astray, you know, from a corporate standpoint at TEGNA if you hadn't been there to kind of to look at the right things to see where the growth potential was instead of just looking at the the all powerful Nielsen ratings. 

Mungeam [00:21:59]: I mean, first and foremost, all credit to Kyle and the leadership team, the producing team at 9 News because at the end of the day and at the beginning of the day, it's the people who do it that make it work. But, you know, imagine x, however many years ago it was now, five, six years ago, a conversation which everyone should be having in local TV news of how to reimagine the newscast from if it bleeds, it leads to, you know, what would the modern newscast that has value to audiences? Everything we've been discussing, what would that look like? And, you know, the team at 9 News had a vision for taking on that challenge, and one thing I loved about it was it wasn't by hiding it at noon where no one was watching and, you know, fiddling around the edges. It was taking the number one most-watched time slot, 6 p.m., of the most watched stations. So you have the number one station with the number one time slot and tossing the traditional newscast and replacing it with this thing next, which, again, if you're a loyal traditional viewer, you have not seen this kind of show before. And among the things, like, literally they wouldn't do crime stories in that way that people do crime stories. They wouldn't do weather, so you just immediately took away a large chunk of what fills a traditional legacy newscast. It's so not shockingly, if you had the audience you had doing things the traditional old way and you make that kind of change, you can guess, and I think you know, what happened to the rating. 

Mungeam [00:23:32]: And my math may be off with memory, but I wanna say 40—over those first few months, 40% loss in audience. And, you know, kid, we've published case studies about this from back at the time. And I remember sitting at corporate. I was the VP of digital, and Tom Summers, my colleague, who was VP of audience, we're yelling through the wall to each other or a little paper thin barrier between our two walls. Pretty natural to be quite concerned about those kinds of ratings losses. Right? And pretty tough to keep your hands steady on the rudder of the wheel, facing that kind of audience feedback. But the conversation Tom and I wound up having over, over a number of weeks was, hey, 

Mungeam [00:24:21]: did you see the YouTube views for the Kyle Clark segment last night? And then the next maybe, like, did you see the—so this is relatively earlier. Like, Twitter was a place where you could have a real conversation, and hashtags really worked and organized communities, a very different world of Twitter. And #heynext was the hashtag for that show, And we would notice things like #heynext. That hashtag got more engagement than the entire news station on some days, and, again, this is the number one station in the market. And so those kinds of off channel, they were not the linear broadcast. Right? They were digital behaviors that were bubbling up. It was just really interesting and frankly kind of exciting to see what was obviously a younger demographic with different media habits having a conversation about the show, #heynext. 

Mungeam [00:25:16]: The hashtag on Twitter was a conversation. It wasn't just a one-way push. Kyle is somewhat of—I I cannot recall in my TV career, someone who is better at managing the trolls. I mean, I have trained and through, you know, our leadership team, we would do trainings all across our company on how to do that. I don't know that I've ever met somebody who's just so good at it. Who knows if it's lots of practice or innate combination of both, but he's terrific. And half the fun, for me and many people is when Kyle calls out somebody who's trolling. He's quite good at that. 

Mungeam [00:25:52]: So there's a little bit of that, but a lot of it, you clearly was just the show was connecting with a different kind of audience in a different way and, frankly, in exactly the kinds of ways that we all had hoped, both in the market and at corporate, that this kind of experiment could yield. And I have to say that those signals—which is really what they were, they were early indicators on nontraditional for a media broadcast company, nontraditional channels, YouTube and Twitter engagement, were confidence-generating, and I think were part of what enabled both at the corporate level and at the local level folks who believed the show was interesting and better and engaging and different in a in an important kind of way, to keep the faith and stay the course. And I'm not gonna remember the exact time frame now, but I do feel like within the year, the show had rebuilt the quote unquote lost audience and built back up to becoming the most watched local newscast in the market while rebuilding the composition of that audience to be a different kind of audience that traditionally would not have self described as I'm a TV newscast viewer. So it was you and I have had this conversation. I mean, it's easy in hindsight when you see a winner. I mean, you read, like the Tiger Woods examples. Like, well, yeah, what you don't see is the thousands and thousands and thousands of practice swings on the days in the rain and the, you know, the aching, all that. 

Mungeam [00:27:28]: Right? And so it's easy today to look at that show and say how refreshing it is and how distinctive it is. I'm so proud of everybody who was involved in keeping the faith behind that experiment when all you were seeing in the short run was losing the audience you'd had. So I do think I mean, I keep that example alive and top of mind constantly in the work that I've done in every job since because real transformation has to include real risk. And if and if you're not facing the possibility of dramatic failure, you're probably not taking a big enough risk to create meaningful transformation. 

Getting outside your legacy lane and mining your archives 

Regan-Porter [00:28:10]: Now, we could do a whole hour just on that transformation and how it relates to the innovator's dilemma and how the traditional metrics and the size can hide all those other indicators that show that you can grow and rebuild your audience. What other examples, particularly from your  time at LMA, stand out to you as success stories and lessons that newsrooms should start looking to? 

Mungeam [00:28:36]: Well, one other one I'm really proud of, and I can brag about it because I had little to do with the actions that led to success, it speaks to the topic you raised earlier about really thinking about ways to create new products and inventorying your strengths, right, is, TEGNA spun out a whole podcast division and created a whole set of new content offerings that—two things about that that I like. First just created a whole new business around audio. And why wouldn't you? Why—there's no swim, there's no lane markers in the pool anymore. Everybody with technology is capable of a print organization that's on top of it. I work with a number of quote, unquote legacy print papers who have very strong digital platforms and do a great job on video now. Right? So 10 years ago, you're like, video…newspaper…huh? So we shouldn't pretend that there are lanes where they don't exist anymore. So it was just plain good business to offer a different vertical of content, but the part I really thought was smart was and this is a line I love to use. If you're a broadcaster, a local broadcaster, you have gold in the basement. 

Mungeam [00:29:50]: And what I mean by that is you have anywhere from 30, 40, 50, or more years of owned content videotaped, filed away. I mean, maybe 90% of it isn't that interesting? The other, the 10% that's the best is amazing and has incredible value. It is sunk cost. You already paid to create it using digital technology to archive and make that searchable and then transform that gold in the basement into, you know, gold for audiences, which then makes for revenue for news organizations. So the strategy, you know, the idea was let's build out a podcast division. The strategy was identify in each market. You know, at the time, true crime podcasts were going crazy. That was the early winner, right, in emergent podcast. 

Mungeam [00:30:42]: Well, that thing that local TV gets properly made fun of for, which is, you know, an overreliance on crime reporting, turns out some of the TEGNA markets had incredible archive video reporting. I mean, think of Ted Bundy case in Seattle. Right? And so King 5 has this huge archive, San Antonio's on and on. And so stations went into the archives and developed podcasts from their original material that they'd already reported and were able to create out of that owned content, new content forms that were really quite engaging. So I thought both aspects of that project were really innovative. First is the business building of offer. You know, if you're not serving audiences who prefer to listen to their content, right, why wouldn't you get into that business? And then where do you have an early right to win, and that's leveraging your archives, for something that actually in some ways has been, you know, a negative for our industry, and we've driven some audiences away by being overly, fear focused. I think that's a legitimate criticism, but we have that content. 

Mungeam [00:31:48]: And so the best of those stories told well becomes really, compelling, original, in that new form, content. So that's one that I like. 

Regan-Porter [00:31:59]: And there are print examples too. I got to know the old publisher at Ogden Magazines, so they had a lot of niche publications, Mother Earth News, Utne [Reader]. And 15 years ago, so fairly early in Internet news days, he had, I think, 3 people doing nothing but going through their 150 year old archive and repackaging things for basically Google, and to build their audience. 

Mungeam [00:32:23]: Yeah. I'll give you one more quick example as Verified, as your listeners maybe have actually heard of the Verified brand. I mean, that, again, is something that six, seven years later might not sound innovative. I assure you at the time, you know, we we were listening to the audience, and this was early days of of fake news not even being called that yet, but people just being confused by what things they could believe and Facebook itself was such a commonplace to share things, and we all had, at that time, pretty significant Facebook referral traffic. And we at TEGNA, you know, we recognized in the data a trend at how quickly certain kinds of stories would go viral on Facebook that just weren't true and we would be getting direct reach outs. People in comments would be posting on our station Facebook pages, you know, is this true? I and so, you know, one thing leads from the right. If you are actively listening to audience, I know we're gonna talk a little more about that. The audience will teach and coach you what they want from you, and so Verify was the brand, which is a great brand that we built out. 

Mungeam [00:33:36]: Ellen Cook led a broadcast implementation of Verify for on air of what that would look like, how to take a story, disassemble it, and then verify. And we had guidelines around what were the pieces that we would include, and we would show our work, right, which is really part of, and I think as we've seen over the years and the great work by the folks at Trusting News and so on, I mean, there are some clear best practices around how to build trust. And so in our Verified pieces, that was a key component of what we did is we would show how we went about verifying as either true or false or often it was a mix, but that was something that clearly audiences were looking to us to do, and it was being done in us in a sort of haphazard way. I think that was common at the time among all kinds of news outlets, they would—but there was no rigor around when do we actually apply the rigor to verify? How do we go about it? Should we do it in a consistent way? How can we make our own process of verifying more transparent? So those were three elements of that that I thought were really strategic and creating that as a type of content and as a type of response was really ahead of the curve at that time.

Sustaining Philanthropy for Journalism report: Local funders needed 

Regan-Porter [00:34:56]: So let's talk a little bit about the report you just released, Sustaining Philanthropy for Journalism. So I'd like to go through some of the best practices that you highlight in there, but first, let's do a little bit of context setting. Press Forward has gotten a lot of attention within the industry. Half a billion dollars committed by Knight, MacArthur, and some others. They hope to grow that to a billion or possibly multiples. That's over five years, the 500 million. So a lot of people are excited about that. They're getting their hat ready, to come hat in hand to these organizations. 

Regan-Porter [00:35:28]: And so I think a couple of things are important to note at the outset, which you do address in the report. Early on, you point out that these national funders are looking for you to build your own relationships with local community funders. And that is much more sustainable than waiting for big checks from large foundations. So, yeah, I don't know if you wanna elaborate on that aspect of it. 

Mungeam [00:35:51]: Yeah. Just real briefly because I do think we have along with, you know, alluded at the beginning to the tendency to diss the business side of things, right? That the journalism alone should save us. Another bad habit we have is this kind of search for the silver bullet. And I think digital subscriptions was a good example of that. You know, that was going to save folks. I think the folks leading the Press Forward initiative are correctly concerned that Press Forward might be misunderstood as the magic silver bullet. If you are a local news organization, probably the greatest value of Press Forward is that it shines a national spotlight on the importance to communities and civic health of a healthy local information ecosystem. Your odds of getting I mean just do the math, like 500 million sounds like a lot of money, and it is. 

Mungeam [00:36:47]: But divide it by five years, and then divide it just by 50 states, and already you're down to a small number. And then think about all the news organizations in a given state. And so all you need to do is that math to realize that the national press forward effort isn't going to be the magic silver bullet for any one local news organization. It may be the kind of national attention that opens the door to a variety of conversations that a local news organization can have with other community leaders about forming partnerships to support their local news. 

Regan-Porter [00:37:31]: This is a bit of an indulgent tangent, but have you ever read How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins? So Good to Great was his book that most people know. 

Mungeam [00:37:42]: Yeah. Yeah. 

Regan-Porter [00:37:42]: I highly recommend How the Mighty Fall for every executive in the media industry. So he lays out—of course, he's not talking about the news industry, but he might as well be. He lays out five stages of decline. So, wee if this sounds familiar. Stage one: hubris born of success. Stage two: undisciplined pursuit of more. Stage three: denial of risk and peril. Stage four: grasping for salvation. And that's sort of that silver bullet of the day. Pivot to video, now it's gonna be this. And then stage 5 is capitulation to irrelevance or death. 

Mungeam [00:38:19]: Okay. Well so, yes, I will immediately add that to my reading. And, b, thank you for depressing me with that quite factual frame. It's so interesting that you let off with hubris. I gave a talk in November. I got the chance to speak to the group that attended the annual Newsgeist Forum. And my talk was really around hubris being one of the albatross problems that we've had in journalism and that you have to replace hubris with humility in order to re-earn our seat at the local information ecosystem table. 

How can philanthropy be sustainable? 

Regan-Porter [00:38:59]: So back to the philanthropy. So that context, I think, is important. And, you know, I think it's also important to recognize that, you know, as you pointed out, this really isn't that much money. And Duck from the Knight Foundation and I were doing the back of the envelope math when you were all in town about exactly how does this compare. We're not going back to the height  of 2005, 2006. The 500 million is about 1.5% of the money that’s been sucked out of the industry per year. So, yeah, we're not going back to there. So the business innovation piece and making sure that you are meeting the needs of audiences and have a sustainable business, philanthropy is not going to solve that. It can be a component. 

Regan-Porter [00:39:42]: It can be an accelerator, potentially. But let's talk a little bit about what sustainable philanthropy means. And there's a bit of debate in how we talk about it. Sarabeth Berman from AJP really dislikes it when people say philanthropy is not sustainable and you've got this in your title. So what does it mean for philanthropy to be sustainable? And what's your sense of how bit of a component that will be? Obviously, the national is not going to make up for it all. But even with local philanthropy, what are the legs of the stools we need to be looking at? 

Mungeam [00:40:16]: Yeah. There's a lot to unpack there. Without falling into the trap of a semantics battle over sustainability, I'm reminded of the great line in funding and foundation world: if you've met one funder, you've met one funder. So you get in trouble as soon as you try to generalize. So, for example, Knight Foundation currently is pretty consistent in saying that they're looking for business sustainability when they make funding investments, they call them investments, and they are looking to see in a journalism proposal, how you will sustain the ongoing work leveraging their initial investment. So Knight has a point of view about whether they should be writing you a check year after year after year, right? Other funders have a different view, so I think we don't want to make sweeping statements about philanthropy isn't sustainable or philanthropy can sustain your business. Why I put sustaining philanthropy in the title is—just to back up a bit. The Lab for Journalism Funding is a six-month cohort training program where Local Media Association, enabled by Google News Initiative support from the beginning and sustained GNI support, we have trained now in three years since we launched the lab, we've trained over a 100 newsrooms in best practices for how to fund some essential local journalism through philanthropy. 

Mungeam [00:41:52]: And in that time, those newsrooms have—it's actually hard to keep track, I love that I have to keep changing the PowerPoint slide. Our best minimum floor is that the newsrooms have raised for themselves, in their journalism, more than 22 million in three years. So at a foundational level there's a there there in this new world that we find ourselves in where there's an increasing recognition that philanthropy should play a role in supporting essential local journalism. And I'm using that as a term. What I mean by that and what we see in practice through our lab is I'll take accountability investigative journalism as a category. Talk about not having a great sustainable business model. Like, that is not an advertiser friendly vertical. I can easily argue it as one of, if not the, most essential service that local journalism provides. 

Mungeam [00:42:48]: When you go out into the community and you ask people, what do you really need and want from your favorite local news outlet? Most folks will say some version of hold the powerful to account. You know? Give a voice to the voiceless. Keep those guys, make sure my money, my tax dollars are spent. Keep an eye on people. Right? So that's accountability journalism. The average person doesn't use terms like investigative teams, but they want the powerful held to account, and that has a lousy business model behind it. So that is ripe for partnering with foundations and community support because the community benefits and so intellectually we can make a rational argument that it is worth a community investment to get that community benefit. Democracy Fund has fabulous research that everyone in our field should study that documents the flip side of that. 

Mungeam [00:43:42]: In a community that loses essential local journalism, bad things happen. There is a loss of civic health. There's a loss of trust in organizations. Money is not spent as efficiently. It's the catalog of all the things we worry about in an unhealthy democracy, So there is a business case for communities to sustain their local journalism, so that's where I like to start the conversation. And you don't rush to, Can I pay my bills with philanthropy? You start with, What is it that we are doing that is essential to our community? And then can we have a conversation where we tell our story of value? Don't just assume everybody knows what we do and how important it is. Like, we actually should use some of those same storytelling skills that we apply to other people's stories, we can collectively, I would say, do a better job of telling our own story and then engaging with community leaders and people in our community about partnering with us to support that work. And that's what this whole—so I wrote an initial report called Pathways to Philanthropy two years ago based on the early findings of our Lab for Journalism funding. 

Mungeam [00:45:00]: So the Pathways to Philanthropy report was really about the ways to begin that conversation, the ways to get initial community support. So that's the backstory to what I call this report Sustaining Philanthropy. The subtitle really could have been, okay, so you got one funder to say yes. Now what? And so the new report is really about how to go from a first yes, yay, to how can philanthropy be one, not the pillar, but one pillar of an overarching long term plan for sustaining local journalism. So that gets to your—I mean, I could take a breath, but you know you asked the excellent question like how big and is it the only one? And so it's one pillar, and it's gonna depend. If you're in Seattle with a very robust philanthropic community, it could be a third of your pie chart. The Texas Tribune is, while they are not immune from the same business challenges as everyone else in our industry faces, they still have a very healthy and it's a public pie chart showing the sources of support. I mean, more than half of their funding for their excellent statewide journalism comes from different philanthropic sources. 

Mungeam [00:46:25]: So those are highly developed programs. You might be in a community that is really challenged, and yet even there, we have case studies from Birmingham, Alabama, and New Orleans that you wouldn't think of as a hotbed of philanthropy. And yet The Times Picayune, The Advocate, I mean they've done a great job of building relationships in their community of making the case for the value of local journalism. I mean, I've included that case study in the advanced Report because they've gone from three journalism funded positions, philanthropy-funded positions, three years ago to 24 philanthropy supported. So that's more local reporting for the state of Louisiana, so that's a win for everybody. It solves the operating budget problem of the local news outlet. More importantly, it solves the information needs of communities that otherwise would really be lacking in trustworthy sources.

Fundraising as a path to better community service, storytelling and product development 

Regan-Porter [00:47:22]: And that's a great example too because sometimes I worry, particularly as the national funders, I think largely rightly, want these outlets to look to their local funding community. I do worry sometimes that we're potentially setting up a haves and have not problem. I mean, I don't think newsrooms in Berkeley or Palo Alto or Boulder are going to be getting a lot of philanthropy. But I think metro major metros will get more philanthropy than, you know, depressed rural areas. And so, you know, I think what's going on in Louisiana and Mississippi is a good example. It's harder as you get as you go from statewide to local. But I do think there are funders who care about those equity issues. But I think that is something to keep an eye on as this becomes a more important part of what we do. 

Regan-Porter [00:48:09]: But of course, that's true. Advertising and reader revenue also have the same challenge when it comes to haves and have nots. So that's I don't know that this is any I don't know if this is exacerbating that. It probably is not. In fact, probably working against those incentives. 

Mungeam [00:48:23]: Yeah. I would say what one of the I mean, for me, one of the transformational learnings, I mean, I've now produced two reports from our three years of work with newsrooms, is that if you hit the reset button, if you're willing to, back to your point about hubris, if you're willing to lean into humility to recognize that it's a different era, that we have to earn our audience every day and we have not been we have not represented all the people in our community. We haven't represented them in our reporting, we haven't represented them on our staffs, we definitely haven't represented them in our own newsroom leadership. So if you begin with the humility of acknowledging those past failings and then you add the recognition of how much the information ecosystem has transformed in recent years, you can start over, if you will. And so in our lab we engage in a series of strategic community listening sessions and build any philanthropic proposal from the feedback that you get. So the segue to me to the point you were making is, well, that's actually the same foundation that you should use to build out business side products or a subscription or a membership model. So my own big aha in working with newsrooms in the lab for journalism funding—and shout out to Joaquin Alvarado who was integral to the Seattle Times success and helped develop the curriculum for our lab and continues to coach in it—we thought we were teaching people how to fundraise for journalism. I think three years later, the most successful newsrooms who've been through the program would say what they really got out of it was rethinking their relationship with their community, re centering around how to serve their community. 

Mungeam [00:50:18]: And if you start with community need, you do better journalism too. Yes, you'll get philanthropic support, you'll also be able to grow business line elements, you'll get more advertising, you'll be able to get more loyal subscribers, it helps the business and it helps the journalism to center your work around what the community needs from you. So that's actually the surprise headline is it only appears to be a philanthropy lab. It's really a reconstructing and re-centering of the value of your local journalism and when you do that the business lines are more evident and you can convert. 

Regan-Porter [00:51:03]: Yes. And being able to tell that story to a funder also will help you tell that story to your readers and advertisers. 

Mungeam [00:51:09]: And vice-versa. Like, one of the things that's been funny is news people are—it was the other part of my Newsgeist talk. News people are terrible at asking for money. I'd include myself in that category. They see it as failure, which totally isn't. Aren't you proud of your journalism? Right? Don't you want people to support that great work so you can do more of it? Sales side folks can be some of the best people to include in your philanthropy, in developing your philanthropic strategies because they are relationship-based in how they do their sales work and those relationships matter just as much in philanthropy. Being comfortable making the ask and making the case, those are essential to getting in front of a funder and honestly our sales side folks are better at some of those things. The journalists are great at telling the story of journalism's value. Doing that in partnership with folks who are comfortable making the ask is really the secret sauce. 

Impact is the secret sauce of local journalism 

Regan-Porter [00:52:04]: One of the lines from your report is “impact is the secret sauce of local journalism.” And documenting and telling that story is a key component. That’s essentially what you’re getting at. Talk a little bit more about impact. What does that mean particularly to philanthropy? 

Mungeam [00:52:20]: Yeah. Thank you for pulling that out because I think that is an underappreciated shift that, you know, if I had a magic wand and could wave it, I would waive us off legacy metrics like page views and Nielsen's. It turns out that what funders care about most is what I think we should actually care about most and be most proud of, and it turns out we have the best story to tell when you reframe what it is we deliver. I mean, yes, we deliver page views and we have audience reach and the reach of local news outlets, particularly long serving local news outlets, the fact that we have large audiences, the fact that we have built up trust, those are really important assets. They're in the ledger. They're in our favor. All of those are a means to an end. What does that end? It's righting wrongs, it's holding the powerful to account, it's solving information problems for people in our community. 

Mungeam [00:53:18]: That is impact. Impact is what funders are after. Like, if you develop a journalism project around the unhoused, right? What's funny to me, having worked with newsrooms on that, is we might act like we just figured out this is a problem. Like, there have been funders who've cared about these social issues for decades, right? So you really don't need to pitch a funder that there's an unhoused problem in parts of Colorado, right? What you need to talk about is your track record as a local news organization of having an impact on issues through your reporting, moving the needle, changing a law, holding the powerful to account. Those are the kinds of metrics that really matter, and I think when we shift the conversation that way, it elevates journalism as why wouldn't you partner with a journalism organization if you care about these issues? Famous line from Alberto Ibargüen, a long time Knight CEO, is whatever your—for a funder, whatever your first concern or focus or issue is, journalism should be your second because that's how people will find out about the issue and about effective responses. And so this shift internally for news organizations from legacy metrics toward impact is, I think, really important and actually quite on mission. I do love the question, you know, what keeps you up at night? But also I always try to pair that with, and given that, what gets you out of bed in the morning? So what gets most of us out of bed in the morning is the opportunity for impact, is those actual examples, real examples, where our reporting has made a difference. So I think that's an essential shift to make, and I would say that I'm surprised at the resistance I get sometimes when I bring that up, and reporters in particular will pale and say, but we're not advocates, you know, we are unbiased. 

Mungeam [00:55:22]: And I think that that is false math. Like, that you can we are absolutely advocates of truth and accuracy and democratic process, not party Democrats, but democratic processes that are inclusive and informed conversation, right? We are champions of all those things in journalism, and so it is not advocacy, you know, through journalism, right wrongs, hold the powerful to account, right? It's actually our job, and so we should lean in and be proud of those kinds of impacts. Really, when you think about it through that lens, very few. It's hard to find other organizations, other enterprises, that deliver those kinds of results. So that is why I say impact is the secret sauce of local journalsism. 

Regan-Porter [00:56:15]: There's a lot of great stuff in the report, and I would encourage people to read it. Is there anything else you would wanna highlight from the report? 

Start with listening then build a philanthropy funnel 

Mungeam [00:56:21]: Two quick things, you know, we touched on. I'd say chicken and egg, start with community listening. Don't start with asking for money. Any good funder should ask immediately when you propose a product, like, and how do you know that's what the community needs? And it's a terrible answer to say we know what the community needs. It's a great answer to say because we asked them and this is what they told us. So that would be thing one. The order matters. Thing two is to steal from the world of marketing. 

Mungeam [00:56:50]: Right? The funnel is real, and you alluded to at the top there is this magical thinking of, well, most folks in journalism are familiar with Knight Foundation or maybe MacArthur Foundation as these large national funders that have been amazing in their support of journalism over the years. The problem is that's generally all the average news person has heard of, and so this sort of magical thinking reflex of, well, I've got this idea, let's pitch Knight. Really, you build a house from the foundation up, right? And if you go straight to a national funder, most national funders the first question is going to be ‘tell me about the local support that you have built up.' And so you're going to be sent right back to where you should start anyway, so why not start locally? And I, you know, in the new Sustaining Philanthropy Report, I really do try to document what we have seen be most effective, which is you start at the top of the funnel, so to speak, with even like a, you know, the GivingTuesday small donor campaigns, you get to know people in the community, you get $10. Call it the Bernie Sanders model if you like, right? But just begin the relationship where people are saying, Yeah, I value what you do. Here's $10, thank you. You can now have a conversation with them about, Well, what is it exactly that we're doing that you most appreciate? Maybe you can get them involved in that in a more deep way. Some of those people will actually, over time, because you have authentically engaged with them, choose to donate far more than $10. Texas Tribune came on and told a story of a $25 donor that they stewarded over time into a $250,000 donor funding an entire vertical. 

Mungeam [00:58:34]: So that is sort of the second level, is stewarding, so that you can tap into folks you wouldn't otherwise know in your community who have the capacity and really value trustworthy local information sources. The community foundation, a lot of newsrooms don't even know what a community foundation is, certainly not who's there, what they're trying to support. Community foundations are so well connected to that part of the community. They know who the organizations are that are also working on these issues that you're reporting on and so they can be a great connector. Place-based funders, meaning they're in the place where you are, care about a lot of the same issues that journalists care about and they're great partners. And as you form those partnerships, execute projects, and drive results that demonstrate impact, now you have the raw material to actually have a conversation with a national funder because you've proved you've earned local support and you have results you can point to to try to take a project to the next level. So I mean, that is I think the most important thing that we try to take people through in the report is what is the sequence and the steps you can follow so that philanthropy can be one pillar of sustaining your journalism over time. 

Rapid-fire questions 

Regan-Porter [00:59:49]: And before we move into rapid fire questions, I'll just point out, you make a point of this early in the report that philanthropy is not just for nonprofit newsrooms. You even have a survey there showing that the support for nonprofit newsrooms from philanthropy has grown. So for those out there listening who aren't in a nonprofit, that does not mean you're not invited to the ball. So rapid fire questions. Your answers don't have to be rapid, but the questions will be short. Compared to a year ago, are you more or less optimistic about the future of journalism? 

Mungeam [01:00:16]: Yes. I'm both more and less optimistic. Literally, sometimes in the same day, my honest answer. What time of day is it? 

Regan-Porter [01:00:29]: Yep. Does AI fill you with more hope or more dread for the future of journalism? 

Mungeam [01:00:34]: I already used my yes answer. Near term, lots of hope. The capacity-building opportunities are off the charts. I'm working with a number of newsrooms doing amazing things that are right now helping them solve their most urgent problems around capacity. Long term, wow, In my lifetime, this seems like the most mind-blowing transformation that our generation will live through, and it seems like it could go either way. 

Regan-Porter [01:01:06]: Messy desk or clean desk? 

Mungeam [01:01:09]: Never trust someone with a clean desk. 

Regan-Porter [01:01:11]: Hear, hear. Best single piece of advice you've received or just a favorite piece of advice you like to give? 

Mungeam [01:01:18]: Oh, I love that question. I'm a collector of good advice, so it really is hard to to pick one. But I will say center around the audience, put the audience in the middle and a whole lot of other things get a lot easier.  

Regan-Porter [01:01:31]: Is there a piece of common advice or conventional wisdom that drives you crazy in its simplicity or oversimplification? 

Mungeam [01:01:40]: It's so funny. I have so many reactions like that even in a day that I'm challenged to think of a quick retort. I think I'm inclined to go with ‘all generalizations are wrong,' including this one. But I guess the transformation piece is the one I always come back to. I think we have such a knee-jerk silver bullet attraction that, you know, blank is the new magic elixir. So that sort of Groundhog Day mistake is the one that I'm always careful to to not fall into the trap of, this is the magic bullet that will save us. There is no one magic bullet. That's, I guess, the bottom line. If it were easy, we'd have already done it. 

Regan-Porter [01:02:30]: Failure is an important part of innovation and growth. Do you have a favorite failure of yours? 

Mungeam [01:02:35]: I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jan Allen and Jim Boyer who I was just a smarty pants producer in my late 20s, perfectionist who could not fail. And Jan, to my great career benefit, beat into me the value of like, ‘When was the last time you did something wrong and failed? And I feel like now that that is my superpower. Smart failure, right? The only failure is a failure to learn from things that didn't work. So I'm always—I feel like each of my jobs has been a fail forward, right? When you bang, when you push the rock up the hill a little too aggressively, it rolls down and crushes you,and you didn't actually get as much transformation accomplished. So I've had—I don't want to name any names, but you know I've had a lot of failures around trying to rush transformation, and I love the line that it's not leader—if you go too fast for others, it's not leadership. You're literally just out there on a lonely walk. So the pace of transformation that is the right pace is the pace at which you can bring folks along. So I mean, I think my big failures and learnings, learning what pace of transformation is possible for a group versus an individual. 

Regan-Porter [01:03:58]: Do you have a favorite place to think big or a favorite activity you like to do when you just when you need to think? 

Mungeam [01:04:05]: I'm a huge fan of the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. I found fascinating that Steve Jobs would do these walking meetings and when he had hard conversations to have or hard problems to solve. And I would love to think that I've had one idea fractionally as good as Steve Jobs' 50th worst idea, but I am a huge fan of walking meetings and just trail run, pick the activity. When my body is moving, my mind is free and it seems like if I have any good ideas, they usually come to me when I'm moving myself and my mind is free to imagine. Sitting at a desk is not where I have my best ideas. 

Regan-Porter [01:04:51]: What's one thing you do to restore yourself and maintain your sanity? 

Mungeam [01:04:55]: It's the same thing. Long runs tire out the body, relax the mind, and, you know, ready for—we are gluttons, yes, that we continue to choose this path. There are easier ways not only to make a buck but to, with fewer challenges. So I mean I remain, I mean I'm more passionate about the importance of local journalism and what we do than I have ever been at any point in my career. It feels really important and it's also really challenging, so I would say I probably do I do a better, I'm more mindful today about self-care, about making sure I get enough sleep, and about making sure I get some exercise in and get a break. Because, back to your failure question, when I was VP of TEGNA, one of the things that I saw was that if you're in a leadership position and a lot of people are counting on you, if you don't take care of yourself, you are not going to be able to take good care of the people who are counting on you for leadership. And so I'm actually pretty militant about, you know, my self-care in order to be able to be fully present to do the hard work every day. 

Regan-Porter [01:06:15]: Penultimate question. Five years from now, Press Forward's been a great success. LMA has been a crucial part of that. What does the industry look like? What’s happened as a result of this backbone activity? 

Mungeam [01:06:29]: I love these speed questions. It's different in that there are a lot of new players and a lot of new form factors as to who is doing journalism and how it is being delivered and how audiences engage with it. What is in common is that there is this wonderful hybrid of old and new, and the old characterized by trust, reach, and impact, and the new being centered around inclusiveness and engagement and news as a conversation. I think we need more players and more types and forms of local news, but in give years, what I'd like to see be true is that we have gotten to that more diversified mix, and people who choose to make a living providing that kind of community value are able to sustain it. 

Regan-Porter [01:07:35]: Let it be so. The final question, stealing from Ezra Klein. Three to give pieces of media, it can be any format, doesn't even doesn't have to relate to news, that you would recommend. 

Mungeam [01:07:44]: You know, I'm gonna confess with pride. I read a lot of books. I mean, once in a while, somebody will say you're an innovator or maybe they just mean you have that innovation word in your title. Where do you get your ideas? And I go with the pitcher model, not the throwing the ball, but the vessel of beverage. I pour a lot into the pitcher to try to get inputs in order to help me come up with new outputs. So I'm a huge fan of reading. If I could only take one thing with me, it would be Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching. You have to feel pretty confident in leadership advice that has lasted 3500 years, might be some lasting insights there. 

Mungeam [01:08:25]: For refreshing my mind and spirit, Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, partly because of his ability to capture the beauty in a barren desert, but partly because he is a little bit of a revolutionary and, you know, sticking it to the man and questioning authority. And I think we all need to question the authority in our world on a regular basis. Those would be my top two. And then Eli Wiesel [sic, recte Viktor Frankl], I wish it said Our Search for Meaning instead of Man's Search for Meaning. I can't edit the title, but I cannot imagine a more seemingly hopeless environment than the concentration camps in World War II and his book is a story of how you find hope and purpose in an utterly seemingly hopeless environment and I reread that. I reread every one of those 3 books and I reread that to be reminded about the importance of having purpose in your life and that any obstacles can be overcome if you have purpose, centering, your work. 

Regan-Porter [01:09:38]: Great. Well, this has been wonderful. I appreciate your time. And we'll put a link to the report and everything else, up in the show notes and on the website. 

Mungeam [01:09:46]: Great. Pleasure chatting with you. 

Regan-Porter [01:09:51]: Thank you for listening to the Local News Matters podcast. 

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