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Local Media Association

Supporting the Future of Journalism

Cantina teamed up with Local Media Association to create NewsFuel, a first-of-its-kind funding platform to help local newsrooms stay in business.

Newsfuel website on a mobile phone


Local news is a vital resource that helps communities thrive, yet many newsrooms are struggling to survive. They may look to grants and philanthropists to stay afloat, but funding sources are difficult to identify. Philanthropic organizations, in turn, may be interested in funding local journalism, but they have no consistent way to find newsrooms in need. Local Media Association (LMA) sought to bridge the gap by engaging Cantina to help it design and build a common platform to match media organizations and funding sources. The result, NewsFuel, a first-of-its-kind digital platform that provides searchable listings and an easy, transparent process for journalism funders and news organizations to connect, communicate, and do business together.

NewsFuel website on various screens
A Partnership Focused on Innovation

Local Media Association hired Cantina to research, design, and develop a minimal viable product (MVP) of the NewsFuel platform. Using a design-thinking approach, Cantina’s team started with an onboarding sprint to review existing research, conduct stakeholder interviews, and explore competitive and comparative website experiences. Cantina’s Research & Design Strategy Team then led a vision sprint to help identify priorities and user experience challenges.

The Cantina team helped us clarify what we needed to learn from potential users. Between interviews and guided tours of wireframes, we were seeing some significant points of agreement around NewsFuel features.

Jay Small Chief Operating Officer, Local Media Association

Cantina’s vision sprint was immediately followed by requirements gathering and definition refinement. The Cantina and LMA teams worked together to write user stories and clarify the goals of the application from a technology and platform standpoint in order to determine the optimal development plan. They also sought to understand the two user types, grant recipients and funders, in order to create a data model and taxonomy that would serve the MVP and also be extensible to future stages of the application. Finally, they created the user flows, navigation, and layout for the new NewsFuel platform and digital experience.

Cantina’s engineering team then built the platform using a Drupal content management system and configured it with the bespoke data model to support the current and future needs of the platform.

A Successful Launch with 6,000+ Media Organizations

The result was a fully-functional MVP Drupal application, which Cantina delivered along with a visual style guide to help the LMA team with design consistency.

The team went from ideation to implementation in 11 weeks: 2 weeks for discovery, 7 weeks for design & development, and 2 weeks for testing, QA, and documentation.

LMA successfully launched NewsFuel with more than 6,000 media organizations. Thanks to Cantina’s efforts and the successful launch of this innovative new platform, LMA believes that it will not only increase funding for local journalism, but will also help to create more than 1,000 jobs for reporters over the next three years.


If you are interested in learning more about this engagement or how Cantina can help you with a project contact us today. We'd love to help.

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