Local independent online news publishers produced a steady stream of significant accountability journalism in 2017, from major investigations that had immediate impact on public policy, to deeply reported ongoing coverage of local government, business and public health issues.
Repealing Net Neutrality would allow giant chain media to work in concert with internet conglomerates to limit access to independent, alternative, and local news sites, according to LION Publishers.
The billionaire owner of DNAinfo, Gothamist, Chicagoist, LAist and other local news properties pulled the plug on his websites Thursday. Joe Ricketts even removed the archives of his reporters' work, with the move coming a week after the New York newsroom voted to join a union.
The websites were shut down with no warning at the close of the business day on the East Coast, even as stories were being published. Each of them was entirely replaced with a brief announcement from the owner.
The DNAinfo journalists who suddenly found themselves without jobs should take a few days to enjoy some much-deserved time with their families, and then get in touch with one of the 180-plus members of Local Independent Online News Publishers. If you've got the drive to be an entrepreneur, we've got a network of independent publishers who are ready and willing to help you establish a news outlet that is focused on your community.
Start your own indie news site, and join us!
Like the withering of AOL's Patch before it, Ricketts' various sites ran out of gas not because local news isn't a solid business, but because they're not truly local.
There were great journalists working for those sites, doing fine reporting (including some excellent accountability journalism). But there's a vast difference between a billionaire owner who eventually gets bored and an authentically local publisher who's invested in his or her business in a fundamental way.
Ricketts said that his sites weren't making enough money: "...while we made important progress toward building DNAinfo into a successful business, in the end, that progress hasn't been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed...."
The local news industry is strong, healthy and growing — the real local segment of the industry. LION members and our many colleagues running local news websites are demonstrating that every day. In fact, more than 200 indie pubishers and experts were just at our annual conference in Chicago over the weekend — the largest ever local indie news gathering.
"I'm hopeful that in time, someone will crack the code on a business that can support exceptional neighborhood storytelling for I believe telling those stories remains essential," Ricketts said.
It's not a simple task, but the members of LION have shown that dedicated effort can make it work.
LION Publishers will receive a $250,000 grant from Democracy Fund to support an initiative to assist publishers of local independent online news organizations in developing sustainable business models.
This LION Publishers webinar from September 2017 focused on hiring, managing and paying advertising sales reps. The featured speakers are veteran local independent online news publishers Kelly Gilfillan of Homepage Media Group in the Nashville, Tennessee area, Scott Brodbeck of Local News Now in the Washington, D.C., area, and Jay Allred of Richland Source in Mansfield, Ohio.
A Q&A with LION member Jodi Schwan, publisher of SiouxFalls.Business.
A Q&A with LION member Cynthia Prairie, publisher of the Chester Telegraph in Vermont.
A Q&A with LION member Robert Chappell, associate publisher of Madison365 in Wisconsin.
The Lenfest Institute, a Philadelphia-based foundation set up as part of the Philadelphia Inquirer's switch to being owned by a nonprofit, has announced $1 million in grant funding to support local journalism innovation and sustainability efforts.
The grants, funded in part by the Knight Foundation, include support for a LION member's efforts to get have readers become investors in California local independent online news site Berkeleyside.
A Q&A with LION member Dennis Spellman, publisher of Covering Katy in Texas.
Hiring an outside advertising sales rep can make a crucial difference in whether a local independent online news site reaches sustainability. Three veteran publishers offered advice on hiring, managing and paying advertising sales reps in a LION webinar Sept. 14.
The latest episode of the LION podcast features Jay Allred, president of Richland Source, a thriving LION site in central Ohio.
A Q&A with LION member Steve Hull, publisher of Bethesda Beat in Maryland.
LION has welcomed 19 new members, all publishers and/or owners of local independent online news sites, from 15 different states over the past four months, and has added more than 40 new members over the past year. It has more than 160 members running local news organizations in 39 states.
A Q&A with LION member Sarah Arnold, publisher of Clutch MOV in Wood County, West Virginia, and Washington County, Ohio.