The Exchange. A unique collaboration to support diverse media

Bob Sillick | for Editor & Publisher

Dr. Frances (Toni) Draper, chairman of the board and publisher of the AFRO American Newspapers.

Collaboration among news media outlets is not new, but The Exchange is a new collaborative effort that aims to create business and financial content for underserved communities. It’s a collaboration of local, diverse news media with decades of service to their communities, the Local Media Association (LMA), the Local Media Consortium (LMC) and Deloitte.

Dr. Frances (Toni) Draper, chairman of the board and publisher of the AFRO American Newspapers and one of the five newspapers participating in the pilot program, said, “We’re building this program from the ground up rather than the top down.”

According to Julia Campbell, chief business transformation officer at LMA, teams at both LMA and Deloitte had been discussing the development of a collaborative program for several years. The pilot program, which launched on March 1, combines the in-depth research of Deloitte’s global reach, the resources of LMA/LMC and the unique perspectives of a select group of Black newspaper publishers to create articles that resonate with their readers.

Julia Campbell, chief business transformation officer at the Local Media Association.

“We’ve been very successful bringing together brands, publishers and industry organizations in a unique way to help sustain local media and learn how to work together collaboratively,” Campbell said.

A cross-functional team of volunteers from across Deloitte developed The Exchange program with Campbell and others at LMA/LMC. Deloitte’s U.S. Purpose Office funded the program. It recognized that The Exchange could provide specialized business and finance content to help navigate issues arising from systemic societal inequities.

Jeff Pundyk, managing director of Deloitte Insights and one of the program’s organizers, said the collaboration is a model for co-creating content. In addition to funding the project, Deloitte is sharing its research with the publishers. Then they decide collectively the topics for the series of articles and collaborate on their development. The first topic is housing equity — especially its importance to the readers of Black newspapers, many of whom live in urban areas, and the businesses in those communities.

Jeff Pundyk, managing director of Deloitte Insights.

“We wanted to work with these publishers because we admire how deeply they are connected to their communities — and have been for generations. We are so impressed by their dedication, knowledge of their communities and unique needs. The Exchange is both an opportunity to support and promote these newspapers and a learning experience for Deloitte to understand these audiences better and improve our content,” Pundyk said.

Five newspapers assigned reporters to write an article about the impact of housing inequality in their city. Another 10 prominent Black publishers also are members of The Exchange, publishing the original five stories on their websites. Each article includes a live link so readers can share comments and suggest topics for future stories. Knotch, a software and consulting company, is also a collaborative partner of The Exchange, providing its analytical tools at no cost to the newspapers to help them understand their audiences’ reactions to the content.

Another critical element of The Exchange program was conducting surveys and focus groups with these newspapers’ readers and local citizens so they could lend their voices to the collaborative process. According to Draper, AFRO had an overwhelming response from its readers who wanted to participate in shaping the content.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be one of the first five creator publishers,” Draper said. “We appreciate Deloitte’s, LMA’s and LMC’s support as it allows us to do an investigative piece in such great depth. We are extremely pleased with the program and want to continue it because of the positive feedback we’re receiving from our readers.”

For more information about The Exchange, please visit

Bob Sillick has held many senior positions and served a myriad of clients during his 47 years in marketing and advertising. He has been a freelance/contract content researcher, writer, editor and manager since 2010. He can be reached at

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