Membership criteria

Membership in Local Independent Online News Publishers

Full Membership is open to any person who fits the criteria laid out in our name: they must be the Publisher, Executive Director or other CEO of a Local Independent Online News website. Publishers Members are voting members of the organization, and are eligible to serve on the Board of Directors and as Board Officers.

LION Publishers are online news leaders who are innovating in business, technology, communication and storytelling while honoring the rich heritage of local journalism. Creating the future of local news as they return it to its roots, LION Publishers encompass a rich diversity of business models, editorial approaches and community types.

Local Independent Online News Publishers are:

Local: A LION organization provides local news content and works in any variety of digital mediums or platforms. "Local" covers the spectrum of communities: neighborhoods, hyperlocals, towns, metro areas, regions and states. LION organizations could also serve niche or topical audiences, ethnic or university-based audiences and communities, and local public media audiences. While LION sites may report on national/international news—whether directly or by aggregation/curation—the LION organization should focus on serving a local or niche audience.

Independent: A LION site must have an actively involved Publisher who oversees daily editorial and business operations. The organization should not be a subsidiary of a legacy publication or part of a conglomerate. While LION Publishers may hold an ownership or leadership position in more than one news organization, he/she must have oversight of each site within the organization.

Online: A LION news organization's editorial and business operations must be digitally focused. While work in print, radio, TV, other media and other business operations may be undertaken, a LION organization must distribute news via digital platforms or express desire for guidance to transition to such platforms.

News: A LION site must report news in the general public interest while upholding high professional standards, including transparency, integrity, fairness, accuracy, completeness, and accountability. A LION site posts news with a primary editorial focus, such as local breaking, investigative and public service reporting, data and information, arts, cultural and community events. News coverage must conform to standard, accepted journalistic practices with a preponderance of original reporting.

Publishers: Whether for-profit or nonprofit in organization, LION sites must be operated as a business. They should provide at least the Publisher/CEO/ED with a meaningful income, or be operated with the intent of doing so. LION sites should have diverse sources of revenue; organizations primarily funded by one individual, group or institution may edge toward not being independent.

While LION focuses its educational and networking efforts on the United States, we welcome members from around the world as Provisional, Associate and Supporter members.

All applications for membership are subject to approval by the LION Board of Directors.

Other membership categories

Partner Publishers: Full Publisher Members who have a business partner may grant access to LION discussions without incurring additional dues.

Associate Members: Non-voting Associate membership is open to staffers who work for organizations headed by LION Publisher Members.

Academic Members: Non-voting members, including faculty, staff, students, and researchers from colleges, universities and other academic institutions.

Supporting Members: Non-voting members who support the organization's mission.

Honorary Members: The Board of Directors may designate individuals who do not qualify under the foregoing categories as honorary members, using such criteria as the Board may develop.

Annual dues

Because LION has ensured that dues are considerably more affordable than those of organizations for legacy media publishers, regular dues for Publisher Members are $150 per year. Plus, you can save up to 40 percent with multi-year pre-paid discounts:

  • $270 for 2 years: 10 percent discount
  • $360 for 3 years: 20 percent discount
  • $450 for 5 years: 40 percent discount

Dues for other membership levels:

  • Associate Members: $75 (dues are waived for one Associate Member from each organization headed by a Publisher Member)
  • Academic members: $150 ($50 undergraduates)
  • Supporters: $75
  • Honorary Members: $0
  • Partner Publishers: $0 (dues are waived for business partners of Publisher Members)