2013 LION Summit: Innovation for Digital Media Entrepreneurs

The LION Summit builds on the Block by Block conferences, bringing together the independent online news industry’s leaders and innovators

May 24, 2014 by Dylan Smith


The LION Summit builds on the Block by Block conferences, bringing together the independent online news industry’s leaders and innovators from across the country for training, networking and conversations about the future of news. Speakers will include successful online publishers and journalism professors. Plenty of time for networking and discussion will be built in to this fall’s conference.

The conference will kick off with a reception at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, and end at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5. Informal gatherings will be planned for those staying in Chicago Saturday night who want to continue the discussion Saturday evening and Sunday morning.


Conference sessions will include LION Publisher members sharing their hard-won experience, with guidelines on how to replicate their success. Also, experts from J-Lab, the Reynolds Journalism Institute, the Knight Lab at Northwestern University and more will help examine trends in online news reporting and publishing.

See the full schedule.

Conference sessions will be held at Columbia College Chicago, in the Film Row Cinema and other facilities, 1104 S. Wabash, in the Loop.

Conference blog

Check the conference blog for the latest updates.

Conference highlights

  • Steven Waldman, lead author of FCC report "The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age," advisor to the FCC and Pew Research Center, founder of TheBrooklynGame.com (2012) and Beliefnet.com (1998).
  • John Bracken, director of media innovation for the Knight Foundation, will speak on the Knight News Challenge and prototype fund.
  • Joe Michaud, consultant at Local Interactive Strategies and CJET, will moderate as publishers share "60 Lessons in 60 Minutes," and offer one-on-one publisher coaching.
  • Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, part of American University's School of Communication. Schaffer, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose work at J-Lab incubates news entrepreneurs and innovators, will detail news collaborations and offer one-on-one mentoring.
  • Rich Gordon, director of Digital Innovation at the Medill School of Journalism, will speak on "Measuring Digital Success with Web and Social Analytics."
  • Michele McLellan, the founder of the Block by Block conferences, will share the results of her continuing study of local news sites.
  • Randy Picht, executive director of the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, will discuss an in-depth industry survey being undertaken in conjunction with LION.
  • Travis Smith of Hop Studios will give his advice on commenting systems and other online technology issues. Smith helped launch the LA Times website in 1995, worked for Online Journalism Review and was the editor of Variety.com before launching Hop Studios in 2004.
  • You. Fulfilling LION's mission of faciliating the exchange of best practices in local online news, many sessions will center on members trading tips and in-depth explanations of what's working (and what's not).


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