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LION welcomes new members from 18 states

LION Publishers is pleased to have welcomed more than two dozen new members running local independent online news sites from 18 different states over the past year, plus other new members who are preparing to launch sites.

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Podcast: Jesus Sanchez of The Eastsider in Los Angeles

LION member Jesus Sanchez is the proprietor of The Eastsider LA in Los Angeles. We talked with Jesus about being a one man band, making ends meet when you're covering communities in a big city (including communities that are gentrifying), and about the differences between LION sites in large metro areas and smaller towns.

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Podcast: Matt DeRienzo of LION Publishers

LION members know Matt DeRienzo from his work as our executive director. But March 6 marks a milestone for Matt: his first day as LION's *full time* ED. Thanks to a grant from the Knight Foundation, Matt is focused full time on serving members and growing LION as an organization. We talked with Matt about his work with LION, his print media background, the future of LION, and what LION members are doing to sustain and distinguish themselves and grow in an increasingly Facebook-and-Google dominated online advertising landscape.

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Podcast: Joe Hyde of San Angelo Live!

LION member Joe Hyde, publisher of San Angelo LIVE! in Texas, talked with us about a variety of topics, from earning extra revenue from programmatic advertising to keeping your readers on your site longer. He also explained how he went from flying bombers for the Air Force to starting a small ISP to launching a LION site.

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Podcast: Kenny Katzgrau of Broadstreet Ads

Kenny Katzgrau needs no introduction for many LION members, as his company, Broadstreet Ads, is the advertising technology provider many of us rely on to keep the business side of our shops humming. We talked with Kenny about the current state of online advertising, competition with Facebook for ad dollars, and where he sees the online ad business going over the next couple of years.

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Podcast: Howard Owens of The Batavian

Host Scott Brodbeck (, interviews "OG" LION publisher Howard Owens of The Batavian and the Wyoming County Free Press. We talk about Howard's path to launching the Batavian, growing readership and advertising, and what the future might hold for LION publishers in the age of Facebook.

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Podcast: Kelly Gilfillan of Home Page Media Group

Kelly Gilfillan is one of the premier sales pros in LION Publishers. She started Home Page Media Group with a partner, journalist Susan Leathers, and grew it from one site in a suburb of Nashville, Tenn., to numerous local sites in the region. We asked Kelly about sales strategy, finding sales talent, launching (and monetizing) special sections, the difficulty of expanding, financial bumps in the road and about email marketing and client service.

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Local doesn't scale: The case for independent news publishers

Dylan Smith, publisher of the Tucson Sentinel and chairman of the LION Publishers board of directors, delivered an "Ignite" talk in December about the nationwide emergence of local independent online news publishers at the Newsgeist conference in Phoenix, sponsored by Google and the Knight Foundation.

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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 "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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