Celeste LeCompte is the vice president of business development at ProPublica, where she works primarily on partnerships, product, and strategy. As a former reporter and editor, she brings a focus on developing business opportunities that are aligned with editorial and audience interests to her work on “the business side” of media organizations.
In 2009, she helped launch Gigaom Research, a successful experiment in online subscription products, first as its editor and then as the director of product, overseeing consumer sales and partnerships with major media organizations. She also co-founded and managed the Climate Confidential, an award-winning reporting project that raised more than $60,000 in crowdfunding to cover the intersection of technology and environment for a year; Climate Confidential collaborated with national and local media partners, winning national and local awards.
In 2015, she was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She has also advised on product development and content strategy for media companies, nonprofits and corporate clients. She is an incoming board member for the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and member of the advisory board at MICRO, a nonprofit building tiny, moveable science museums to expand access and enthusiasm for science to everyone.
I have been a board member for one term, and been involved in the organization primarily through the conference before that. As a board member, I have participated in conference programming, OJA, and strategic planning committees. Within the industry, I am an incoming board member for the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, a regular speaker at journalism schools and conferences, and acts as an advisor to a handful of independent science-focused media companies.
Vision for ONA
I’ve been a member of the ONA Board for one term. My goals over the past two years were to push forward a focus on business-side issues within ONA’s programming and outreach. It has been an excellent time to do this! Changes in the industry have dramatically expanded support for subscription and membership models, and a growing number of organizations are experimenting with new revenue models. ONA has been a leader in bringing those conversations to the table and making sure that editors, product managers, and business leaders are all included.
I would like to think I’ve played a small role in supporting those efforts, and I hope to continue doing so. In the next term, I want to also expand the focus of my board work to supporting the fantastic ONA Local community. The staff has been ahead of the curve on turning attention and focus to local media. The business challenges and digital opportunities continue to grow for this part of our community, and I’m interested in bringing my professional experience to support this part of our efforts. I’m also eager to remain engaged in the ONA Strategic Planning process, which began during my tenure on the board. I believe that I bring useful perspective and experience to the table: I’m a relatively new member of the ONA community, and my background is in independent and nonprofit media. I also have experience guiding and contributing to strategic planning in other organizations.
More broadly, I believe this is an interesting and transformative time for the ONA community. Our industry has matured significantly since the founding days of this group, and I want to continue to see us pushing for excellence in the quality and integrity of the work being done by media organizations as digital tools expand. The last few years have highlighted significant ethical and moral questions for digital media, most specifically around the use of consumer data (an area of business growth for many digital news outlets, not just the technology partners and vendors in the community!) and the spread of misinformation online. ONA can and should be a place for thoughtful conversations about topics like these with many stakeholders at the table.