LION Publishers names Matt DeRienzo as first full-time executive director

LION Publishers, a national organization dedicated to supporting local journalism entrepreneurs, has named Matt DeRienzo as its first full-time executive director...... Read more»

LION joins 60+ press groups urging Trump to meet on gov't access

LION Publishers joined with the Society of Professional Journalists and about 60 other journalism organizations in asking President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to set up a meeting to discuss transparency and access to government...... Read more»

Join LION Publishers

​Join the nation's only association dedicated to Local Independent Online News Publishers...... Read more»

McBride, Gilfillan re-elected to LION Publishers Board

Two members have been re-elected to the LION Publishers Board of Directors, AustinTalks.org publisher Suzanne McBride and BIGR Media COO Kelly Gilfillan. ..... Read more»

LION Publishers names Matt DeRienzo as first full-time executive director

Local Independent Online News Publishers, a national organization dedicated to supporting local journalism entrepreneurs, has named Matt DeRienzo as its first full-time executive director.

The hire, made possible by a grant from the Knight Foundation, will enable LION Publishers to expand training and mentorship of local publishers and idea-stage local news businesses across the country.

"Hiring Matt is a banner headline for LION," said Dylan Smith, the chairman of LION's Board of Directors and the editor and publisher of TucsonSentinel.com. "As a mostly volunteer-based organization, we've been able to accomplish a great deal on behalf of local independent news publishers since our 2012 founding. With Matt DeRienzo now pushing us ahead on a full-time basis, we'll have the capacity to support even more publishers who are creating the change needed to rebuild local news."

DeRienzo, a veteran reporter, editor, publisher and media executive, has assisted LION in a part-time role over the past two years.

"I'm passionate about LION's mission and thrilled to be able to work full-time helping entrepreneurs launch sites that fill gaps in local journalism, and assist existing publishers reach sustainability and grow their operations," DeRienzo said.

DeRienzo said he will prioritize building on the organization's work to share best practices among independent publishers, as well as building connections with potential startup news outlets in under-served communities around the country.

"We're excited about how this will improve LION's ability, first and foremost, to connect local news entrepreneurs with indie publishers who've found a formula that works, with timely advice, and with ideas that they can immediately put to use," DeRienzo said. "We anticipate that having the capacity to share even more of this road map for the local online news business will encourage more people to step up and address their own communities' journalism needs."

"Matt is always actively listening and helping to lead the critical national conversation about the future of independent journalism. He consistently offers innovative ways for us to move forward as an organization," said Traven Rice, publisher of The Lo-Down (New York City) and a member of LION's Board. "In the past two years, I have come to admire his dedication to engagement within our growing community of local publishers. He clearly respects the diversity and unique viewpoints our members bring to the online publishing world. I’m eager to see LION continue to flourish under his leadership."

Noting that DeRienzo has "done an outstanding job as interim director," Charlotte-Anne Lucas, LION's Board Secretary, said, "I'm delighted that Matt will be our Executive Director."

"He shares LION's passion and vision for the future of local journalism, which is the foundation of democracy. With Matt's help, this organization will grow and thrive," said Lucas, a founding member of LION and the managing director of NowCastSA in San Antonio.

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LION joins 60+ press groups urging Trump to meet on gov't access

LION Publishers joined with the Society of Professional Journalists and about 60 other journalism organizations in asking President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to set up a meeting to discuss transparency and access to government.

The coalition sent a letter Wednesday to Trump and Pence, asking for a meeting or conference call to discuss:

• the ability of reporters to directly interact with government employees who are subject matter experts, rather than interacting with Public Information Officers (or having all conversations monitored by Public Information Officers);
• access to the activities of the President;
• and ensuring that the Federal Freedom of Information Act remains as strong as possible.

“We believe strongly that journalists are the eyes and ears of the citizens of the United States,” said SPJ National President Lynn Walsh. “The average American citizen does not have the time or resources to check up on elected officials to make sure they are running the country the way they should. It is up to journalists to help hold those in power accountable.”

Local news reporters aren't often called upon to interview the president, but they do deal with federal officials frequently, said Dylan Smith, chairman of Local Independent Online News Publishers.

"Federal regulators are daily making decisions that have a direct effect on local communities," Smith said. "Whether it's the environment, or business, law enforcement or transportation funding, their power extends far from Washington, D.C. Sadly, too often they are not responsive to questions from journalists — and regular citizens — seeking to understand and explain what their actions will mean to local residents."

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McBride, Gilfillan re-elected to LION Publishers Board

Two members of LION Publishers Board of Directors, AustinTalks.org publisher Suzanne McBride and BIGR Media COO Kelly Gilfillan, have been re-elected and will continue leading the nation's foremost group of local independent news publishers.

The pair were unanimously voted by the Board to three-year terms, filling out the leadership of Local Independent Online News Publishers. Their renewed terms were ratified by the membership at the annual meeting held at the 2016 LION Summit in Chicago.

The two have brought to LION's leadership a diverse set of experiences that reflects the breadth of the national organization's membership. LION Publisher's nearly 140 members include the publishers of both for- and nonprofit news sites across the United States, ranging from rural towns and urban neighborhoods to regional news sites.

"Following the LION conference, I came home inspired and full of hope for the state of local news," Gilfillan said. "Serving on the board, I look forward to helping our members grow their businesses and keeping local news a viable means of making a living for all LIONs."

"Readers from big cities to small towns are demanding information about their communities, and the 140-some members of LION are filling a critical need," McBride said. "My goal is to do all I can to nurture and support still more local news operators, especially in news deserts - those areas with little or no coverage."

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What local independent online news publishers should keep in mind when choosing a CMS

Wordpress may be the most widely used web content management system, or CMS, when it comes to small independent websites, but it’s not the only option out there, as we heard at the LION Publishers 2016 Summit Friday afternoon during a roundtable with David Sutton of TownNews (which offers its proprietary BLOX software), Joe Hyde of San Angelo Live (a Drupal disciple), David Walsh of Walsh Creative (a WordPress design house), Steve Ludwig of BIGRMedia (which offers its own platform), and Travis Smith of HOP Studios (an ExpressionEngine design house). 

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Fundraising for nonprofit journalism: Finding 'true champions'

There may not be a lot of foundation money out there for journalism, but there is money out there, both for and from nonprofits, according to members of a panel on nonprofit fundraising at the recent LION 2016 conference in Chicago. Nonprofit and for-profit sites alike need to build relationships within their communities and foster civic engagement, which will both improve local fundraising and entice whatever foundation money that is out there.

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Knight Foundation's John Bracken says 'adaptability' is key for news orgs

The vice president of the Knight Foundation’s Technology Innovation program urged attendees of the LION Publishers 2016 Summit in Chicago Saturday to continue looking around a now-familiar bend. In remarks delivered Saturday afternoon, John Bracken, invoked retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, advancements in artificial intelligence, and Knight’s just-concluded libraries News Challenge to push local news sites toward innovation.

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Beyond pageviews: Measuring the impact of local independent online news

To thrive, independent news publishers must demonstrate the impact their work has had on their community. But that impact is central to the conversations they need to have to attract advertisers or funding sources. This was the message four panelists conveyed to attendees at the LION Publishers 2016 Summit in Chicago Friday afternoon.

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Join LION today!

Become a member of the nation's only nation's only association dedicated to Local Independent Online News Publishers, who are successfully creating the future of reporting: locally owned and operated news outlets that directly serve their communities.

Benefits

Knowledge & networking

LION Publishers share their expertise in editorial, technical, business, advertising sales, marketing and fundraising with their peers. Network with a pool of online news pioneers who are proving daily that local online news does work.

Representation

As a member of LION Publishers, you and your organization will be associated with a group of the most recognized and respected local news sites in the nation. The association works as an advocate for local independent news sites, raising our public profile and standing in the industry.

Efficiency & effectiveness

LION is dedicated to improving our members' businesses, on both the editorial and revenue side. Members share their strategies on running news operations that are growing, not shrinking.

Read more about member benefits »

Our mission

Foster the viability and excellence of locally focused independent online news organizations and cultivate their connections to their communities through education and action.

Our values

We share a passion for quality journalism and a determination to focus our energies on the health of our online publications as businesses, whether for profit or nonprofit.

We approach our tasks with an entrepreneurial spirit and a belief that individually and collectively we are setting the pace for a new era of local news publishing.

We are dedicated to championing the local online news industry, in the firm belief that independent publishers are establishing the template for successful local digital news organizations - just as independent publishers did for print newspapers in the 19th century.

We declare the best strategy to ensure that local communities are served by quality professional reporting is the promotion and support of local independent online news publishing.

We are committed to strong local independent journalism, whether in small towns or big cities, to tell the stories that reflect their residents and build a sense of place, and to shine an informative light that allows citizens to make wise decisions. The Internet is worldwide, but every neighborhood's story is individual.

Our strategic goals

  • To identify and implement successful strategies for maintaining and expanding member sustainability, readership and community impact
  • To pool knowledge and resources, promote collaboration, and leverage economic opportunities as a group
  • To lead technological and operational innovation to advance efficiency and quality in our industry
  • To uphold high professional standards, identify best practices and support members through education, and recognize excellence in local online reporting
  • To advance the case for strong local independent online journalism and represent membership interests in the public sphere
  • To found and develop a stable, financially sustainable organization that serves member organizations, their staffs, local communities and the broader industry