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Out of work after DNAinfo shutdown? Start your own news site

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.

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Podcast: Hiring, managing and paying advertising sales reps

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.

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Grant aids Berkeleyside's bid to turn readers into investors

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.

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