LIONs in Philly: Local news startup success, legal guide & revenue ideas

Speakers from Billy Penn, Philly, Pew Research, J-Lab at Philadelphia LION gathering

LION Publishers is pleased to announce two upcoming conferences devoted to the journalistic excellence and economic well-being of local independent online news sites.

LION members will gather at an “Independents' Meeting” on June 6-7 at Temple University’s downtown campus as the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference happens in Philadelphia. The organization's annual LION Summit will return to Chicago on Oct. 1-3 at the downtown campus of Columbia College Chicago.

The organization’s gathering in Philadelphia, June 6-7, will include opportunities for members to discuss common issues and problems, share success stories and encourage the founding of new local news sites. Each event will feature an informative slate of speakers, workshops and panels on topics relating to local publishing, covering real-world strategies for revenue, hands-on technology demonstrations, effective reporting tips, and experts speaking on business and legal issues.

Saturday, June 6, 2:30-7 p.m.

  • 2 p.m. Registration
  • 2:30-3 p.m Opening Remarks/Introductions
  • 3-4 p.m LION Lessons Learned: Share your quick tips in 60 seconds
  • 4:10-4:45 p.m Brian James Kirk, Philly: Stealing Ideas from Startups: How we built our journalism tech stack on the cheap
  • 4:50-5:30 p.m Jim Brady, Billy Penn: Millennials and Mobile
  • 5:30-7 p.m Reception: Beer, wine & appetizers (hosted with kind support from Broadstreet Ads)

Sunday, June 7, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

  • 9-9:30 a.m Opening Remarks/Introductions
  • 9:30-10 a.m Jan Schaffer, J-Lab: Legal Issues for Digital News Startups
  • 10:05-10:30 a.m Keith Hammonds, Solutions Journalism Network: Increasing Engagement by Tackling Local Issues
  • 10:35-11 a.m Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow, and Dylan Smith, Crowdfunding Local Journalism
  • 11:05-11:30 a.m Local Publisher Advantage: Kenny Katzgrau, Broadstreet Ads: The Local Publisher's Advantage
  • 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m Lunch & socializing (box lunch provided)
  • 12:30-12:55 p.m Jesse Holcomb, Pew Research Center: Lessons from Pew's Local Media Study
  • 1:0-1:20 p.m Jim McMillan, Temple University: Inside Philly’s Gun Crisis News project
  • 1:20-1:40 p.m Suzanne McBride, Austin Talks, and Kelly Gilfillan, Brentwood Home Page: Internship and Volunteer Programs — Potentials and Pitfalls
  • 1:40-2 p.m Jay Allred, Richland Source, and Doug Hardy, CT News Junkie: Revenue Diversity
  • 2:10-2:45 p.m LION Member Panel: Roundtable on Revenue Ideas
  • 2:45-3 p.m Break
  • 3-4 p.m Final Session: Takeaways and Open Discussion

LION’s two-day Philadelphia gathering — “Independents’ Meeting: Innovation with Integrity, Information with Impact” — is free to LION members and students, but advance registration is required. The cost for non-members is just $25. The program will run from 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 6, concluding with a reception with refreshments, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 7.

The Independents' Meeting is funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with additional support from Temple University's Center for Public Interest Journalism and Broadstreet Ads.

It will take place at Temple University's City Center campus (TUCC), 1515 Market St., just two blocks from the IRE conference hotel.

Note: Enter TUCC on the north side of the building, opposite the Market Street side, through the doors marked "Temple." Attendees must show a photo ID at the security desk before taking the elevator to the third floor.

Attendees will hear from the founders of two celebrated Philadelphia local news startups - Jim Brady of and Brian James Kirk of Philly. The focus of Brady's site has been "mobile first" and reaching millennials. Kirk's site has been held up as a great example of how a local news business can be built around one particular topic.

Jesse Holcomb of Pew Research Center will speak about the organization's major recent study of local news media.

Jan Schaffer of J-Lab will speak about a guidebook she recently co-authored on legal issues facing digital news sites.

Keith Hammonds of Solutions Journalism Network will speak about the concept of solutions journalism, and how writing with a critical eye about potential solutions to a problem a community is struggling with can increase reader engagement.

And various panel discussions and presentations will be featured on journalism and revenue topics, including crowdfunding, alternatives to display advertising and foundation funding and underwriting.

Previous LION gatherings have been an excellent source of information and networking for journalists who have recently launched their own local news sites or are considering it. With a wide diversity of membership, and some publishers who have been in operation for over a decade, LION brings together the best business and reporting minds in local online news.