A project of Democracy Fund
The Local News Lab has been archived as of March 1, 2023. This page will remain online but will not be updated. More info.

New Mexico Local News Fund

The New Mexico Local News Fund works with community members and journalists who believe that local journalism is crucial for our communities.

NMLNF raises funds to support local news providers and journalists across the state. The fund also convenes conversations about how we can better serve the news and information needs of all New Mexicans.

The Fund is run by a group of local and national funders who believe in the power of local journalism, local stories, and local people to strengthen our democracy. It was established at the Santa Fe Community Foundation in 2018 by the Thornburg Foundation, a New Mexico-based foundation that invests in enduring solutions to help solve problems affecting people and our planet, and Democracy Fund, a foundation helping to ensure that our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people.

What the Fund Supports:

The New Mexico Local News Fund is experimenting and learning with funding new projects in New Mexico’s journalism community: a fellowship for UNM and NMSU journalism students to work in local newsrooms, COVID-19 emergency grants for journalists, collaborations across nine newsrooms, and a new local news revenue initiative. Read more on the New Mexico Local News Fund site.

Why Supporting Local News Matters in New Mexico

Decreased access to local news has a direct impact on civic outcomes like voting, volunteering, and running for office. But, as a 2018 report from public policy organization New Mexico First found, local journalism in the state is facing challenges:

In New Mexico, nearly every established media company is entering a second decade of shrinking staff sizes and diminished coverage. The state is home to 359 media outlets, the majority being radio and newspapers. Public and private television, online publications and a handful of magazines comprise the rest. Together, these media sources provide critical services, including investigative journalism. In the last decade, New Mexicans have witnessed unethical, or in some cases, criminal behavior in multiple levels of New Mexico government that investigative journalism helped to uncover. The need to support journalism’s capacity to hold government and elected officials accountable as the “Fourth Estate” cannot be overstated…

Rural communities have unique media access challenges. Research shows that people in rural areas tend to turn to newspapers over other traditional media. While this local trust is heartening, it may complicate the problem of getting reliable news to rural communities since their shrinking staffing levels make in-depth coverage on important topics highly difficult. The issue of “orphan counties” affects some rural New Mexicans’ ability to receive in-state programming. Instead, they receive programming from neighboring Texas communities. For example, Las Cruces residents receive El Paso television news and Clovis receives much of its programming from Amarillo rather than Albuquerque or Santa Fe. …

In an effort to meet demand for fast-paced, accurate news and to do so amid the new realities facing media professionals, three progressive models may provide some answers: collaborative journalism, bringing together multiple reporters and editors to cover an issue; aggregate journalism, which curates existing news stories from multiple sources; and public-private partnerships, through which media outlets can partner with state universities, think tanks or nonprofits focused on policy to improve coverage or citizen engagement.


The New Mexico Local News Fund is led by program coordinator Sarah Gustavus and development manager Rashad Mahmood. Contact them with questions and sign up for the fund’s newsletter through the New Mexico Local News Fund website

Contact Democracy Fund via localnewslab@democracyfund.org and sign up for the Local Fix, a weekly newsletter of big ideas for local newsrooms.

Read more about efforts to support New Mexico’s news and information ecosystem: