As we near the end of 2022, we’re excited to reflect on the 75 news businesses that have received an audit this year. We’re equally thrilled to announce the final 25 news businesses participating in the LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program to round out our goal of 100 for the year.
The Sustainability Audits program offers a comprehensive process for LION members to identify and respond constructively to roadblocks to sustainability within their organizations. The program includes a thorough assessment of each participating news business, followed by recommendations, resources and up to $6,000 of funding to help them take the next steps toward organizational sustainability.
Having met our goal to serve 100 publications in 2022, we’re looking forward to launching another round of 100 audits next year with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We’ll share more details soon.
Congratulations to this latest cohort of news businesses as they continue along their journey to organizational sustainability.
Based in: Portland, OR
Mission: To inform and inspire.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I’ve been at this a long time and am still not feeling “sustainable” financially. I also feel like we’ve made several major recent steps to up our game and we are primed to capitalize on our work and brand with smarter revenue strategies.
California Health Report
Based in: Los Angeles, CA
Mission: The California Health Report partners with communities across the state to create solutions journalism that strives for social justice. Our mission is to report from communities that are disproportionately affected by inequality. We partner with communities of color, immigrants, low-income Californians, domestic violence survivors, people with disabilities and many others to listen to their lived experiences and help them share ideas for making our world more equitable.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We’re looking forward to collaborating with experts on how to better grow and serve our communities. We are committed to the work we do, but are eager to have help planning for growth and long-term sustainability.
Based in: Roanoke, VA
Mission: We tell the stories of Southwest and Southside Virginia so that we know more about ourselves and our communities, and so that our region is not forgotten by our state’s political and economic leaders.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We just celebrated our first birthday and are proud of our accomplishments so far. We have secured 3-year funding commitments from major donors and are continuing to grow our small donor base as we build a sustainable organization. We would like to understand where we are on the sustainability path, and what other avenues we should consider.
Based in: San Francisco, CA
Mission: We leverage the power of visuals to connect, transform and inform communities.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are at a critical growth point. The next year could literally make or break the organization and we are scrambling on operations.
Based in: Fayetteville, NC
Mission: To provide objective news reporting to citizens to help them make informed decisions.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Navigating a sustainable business model that provides objective news reporting is critical to our American democracy. [This program] provides the opportunity to work with others around the country to identify best practices and learn from each other.
Based in: Hartford, CT
Mission: The Connecticut Mirror’s mission is to produce original, in-depth, nonpartisan journalism that informs Connecticut residents about the impact of public policy, holds government accountable, and amplifies diverse voices and perspectives.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We recently began a strategic planning process with a general planning consultant whose process and approach we liked a lot but whose only drawback was insufficient knowledge of our industry to be able to assess a news organization’s sustainability. By marrying the LION / GNI sustainability audit and the right engagement process, we think we have an excellent combination for a successful strategic planning process.
Based in: Fort St. John, BC
Mission: Energeticcity.ca connects the communities of Northeast B.C. and brings issues that matter to our readers to the forefront through local and independent journalism.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Energeticcity.ca had tremendous growth over the last 18 months. Our newsroom staff has doubled due to various funding opportunities. We are now working on a plan to grow our revenue so we can maintain our current staff levels, and we believe this program will help us understand the challenges and the opportunities ahead for Energeticcity.ca
Based in: Fresno, CA
Mission: To make policy public – by, for, and with all residents of the central San Joaquin Valley.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Since Fresnoland’s launch as a newsroom in 2020, we have had a strong focus on thoughtful, investigative reporting in engagement with the community. We have now reached a point where we need to build a more robust operations infrastructure. Of strong strategic importance to our organization this year, in addition to hiring, is increasing the amount of small donors, growing our digital audience even further, and diversifying our revenue streams. We look forward to participating in the sustainability audit and receiving actionable feedback on how to deploy our existing resources and launch new ones that will help us continue to grow.
Gales Creek Journal
Based in: Gales Creek, OR
Based in: Toronto, ON
Mission: HeyReprotech explores the societal fallout of assisted reproduction.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I would like to make the newsletter more financially stable. I would like to reach a wider audience. I would like to explore a few new ways of interacting with my subscribers.
Indonesian Lantern Media
Based in: Philadelphia, PA
Mission: To be the trusted resource for Indonesian culture, history and business and to celebrate and promote Indonesian and AAPI voices.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We want to know our strengths and weaknesses. We want to increase our revenue. We want to be sustainable.
Investigative Journalism Foundation
Based in: Toronto, ON
Mission: The Investigative Journalism Foundation is dedicated to strengthening Canadian democracy through public interest journalism.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Investigative Journalism Foundation has grown a lot in the past two years, with both revenue and staff more than tripling. We are hoping to learn from LION best practices on structuring our operations and finances to help make our current expansion sustainable for years to come.
Based in: Los Angeles, CA
Mission: We aim to bring street-level journalism from all corners of L.A. County to our loyal readers, supporters, and members, and partners who share our passion for Los Angeles.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We’d like to learn how to capitalize on our success, maximize our resources, and be able to create long-term sustainability.
Based in: Charlotte, NC
Mission: La Noticia’s mission is to be the leading source of accurate and valuable local news and information for the Latino community. We keep our audience informed on important issues that strengthen their lives and keep our democracy alive and well.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We feel that participating in this program will help us understand where we are in this process of building a sustainable news organization and make plans to grow from there. We come from 25 years in the printing industry. Our digital transformation has been a long journey. We have attended many of the GNI programs and have learned so much from each of them to help us with our growth. We are confident this one will help us as much as the others have.
Local Switchboard NYC
Based in: New York, NY
Mission: Local Switchboard NYC is a local news-driven podcast that aims to tell important and engaging stories about New York City at the level of its neighborhoods and communities. It is created and managed by a collective of women journalists and media producers who identify and shape stories around today’s issues, movers and shakers, and local politics.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are a small women-lead news organization looking to increase our funding and stability.
Based in: Clarkesville, GA
Mission: To deliver timely, accurate news with integrity to the underserved communities of Northeast Georgia.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I’m interested in LION’s sustainability audit because I need help transforming my news organization into a business. I’ve spent eight years growing an audience and reputation for timely, fair, and accurate reporting, but have not succeeded in building a sustainable business model. Communities in our rural region have come to rely on us and I want to better serve them, but I need guidance on how to achieve that.
Rockland County Business Journal
Based in: Valley Cottage, NY
Mission: RCBJ (rcbizjournal.com) is Rockland County’s premiere source for business news. RCBJ’s 24/7 digital platform is out front on relevant stories – covering issues from a hyperlocal perspective but with regional and global relevance. We are the county’s first digital-only news organization founded to serve the community with stories about the economy, retail, real estate, business profiles, and more. We understand how important it is to have a local news source that focuses on issues that matter, and that do so in a timely way. News organizations have turned their gaze away from local news – we fill that void. RCBJ promotes excellence in journalism, social connectedness and civic engagement through our platform.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We hope to benefit from the experience and knowledge of others who have participated in the sustainability audit so that we can serve the best experience possible to our readers and supporters.
Based in: Worcester, MA
Mission: Using local news to connect readers and businesses.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: What I’d like to do through this audit process is to use the funds to automate our front end. Automating this solves multiple problems. Primarily, it allows me to transition to more of a sales role, as we’ve found hiring for sales is harder than hiring journalists.
Based in: Landers, CA
Mission: The Appeal is a nonprofit news organization that envisions a world in which systems of support and care, not punishment, create public safety. The Appeal’s journalism exposes the harms of a criminal legal system entrenched in centuries of systemic racism. We equip people with the information necessary to make change, and we elevate solutions that emerge from the communities most affected by policing, jails, and prisons in the U.S.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As one of the first worker-led nonprofit newsrooms in the U.S, The Appeal is excited to take part in this audit that perfectly aligns with our strategic goals. In 2023, we hope to have a greater sense of both operational and financial sustainability, while also increasing the scope and impact of our journalism. We’re excited to benefit from the audit’s external expertise that will help us take concrete steps towards these goals.
The Bedford Citizen
Based in: Bedford, MA
Mission: The Bedford Citizen informs and engages the Bedford community through reporting news of local significance, promoting local events, fostering connectivity, and encouraging participation.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are anxious to ensure our organization’s sustainability as we are undergoing significant organizational change and this is the time to make sure we have the right people, systems, and processes in place.
The Examiner News
Based in: Mt. Kisco, NY
Mission: Our mission at The Examiner News is to publish community journalism that allows readers to live their most intelligent local life. Our motto is “Small News Is Big News.” We try to embody that spirit in all of our work. Our audience across Westchester and Putnam counties in New York’s lower Hudson Valley demands excellence and we try our very best to deliver it.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Pushing every day to create the most sustainable and durable local news organization possible is what animates all of our publishing efforts. Learning how to enhance those efforts with the Google News Initiative is much more than a welcome opportunity. There are countless ways we can improve our game — it’s impossible to know what we don’t know — and GNI will certainly help illuminate those deficiencies.
The Southern Maryland Chronicle
Based in: Federalsburg, MD
Mission: To provide our community with timely, unbiased reporting they care about.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: To create a better news organization for the communities we serve.
Based in: Jacksonville, FL
Mission: The mission of The Tributary is to tell the missing stories of our community – however we can. The Tributary strengthens the local news ecosystem by investigating entrenched problems and proposed solutions, holding those in power accountable, and transforming journalism from words on a screen into a civic engagement movement that shapes our city into a more just society for everyone.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We want to better know how to (1) Build the organization’s capacity, including hiring additional staff, expand the board, and formalize processes and procedures; (2) Advance the community’s understanding of local news as a public good, including events and outreach; and (3) meet and exceed our revenue goals through a fundraising plan that includes strategies for reaching grassroots donors, mid-level to major donors, and institutional support.
Based in: Trenton, NJ
Mission: To address the information gaps and to highlight the positive voices in the capital city.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I want my business to be sustainable and to grow. Trenton, New Jersey needs a reliable news source that reports original news.
Based in: New York, NY
Mission: Keeping Hell’s Kitchen connected, updated and upbeat.
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: It’s always important to take a step back and work on the business rather than in the business. This is an ideal opportunity to reflect on the potential that W42ST has — and how we can plan to achieve success and sustainability. The outside input would be most welcome.
Sustainability Audit Analysts
These news organizations will be working with our expert analysts who will offer guidance and recommendations based on each organization’s needs and ambitions. The nine analysts for this cycle of the Sustainability Audits are:
Adriana Pena is a passionate media business strategy consultant committed to supporting the efforts to defend people’s right to know and the ideal of ethical journalism as a pillar in functional democracies and thriving communities. Adriana helps clients grow their revenue, audience, and social impact, with an emphasis on media business strategy, branded content, advertising sales and SEO for journalism. She has consulted and trained media organizations and B2B clients across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, has trained more than one hundred journalists, and has worked with numerous international organizations that support journalism including the Media Development Investment Fund, DW Akademie, Open Society, Institute for War & Peace Reporting, The Membership Puzzle Project, International Center For Journalists, and the American Embassies in Mexico and Bolivia. Adriana has served in senior leadership positions at Televisa, Havas Media, CNet, and Univision’s biggest TV affiliate, Entravision.
Becca Aaronson is a news product strategist and executive consultant. She co-founded the News Product Alliance, a global community of support and practice for news product thinkers, and served as their founding executive director. She previously worked as the Director of Product at Chalkbeat, a non-profit, digital-first network of local newsrooms, overseeing digital product development and visual storytelling. Becca spent the first eight years of her career at The Texas Tribune, where she became their first-ever product manager. She was responsible for creating and managing the Tribune’s product roadmap and ensuring that technology products aligned with audience and brand strategy. She also co-founded the Tribune’s data visuals team, where she designed, built, and managed several award-winning investigative projects. In 2018, Becca was selected for the Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media. Becca has a bachelor’s degree in cultural theory from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif.
David Arkin has 25 years of experience as a reporter, editor, consultant, and executive working in newspapers, television, media associations and news startups. His work in content and product development has led to significant audience growth, new revenue streams and improved processes and technology for family-owned companies, brands, nonprofits and large media organizations. Most recently, David co-founded Check Out DFW, a website covering the Dallas area with information about moving, things to do and development. The site was built around sponsored content and eventually had 20 paying customers (advertisers) and nearly 1 million page views and 70,000 users a month. As owner of David Arkin Consulting, David helps media companies develop and implement strategies that improve products, processes and people.
David Yoder is a founding member of the Richland Source team & is currently the Senior Ad & Marketing Manager. His 10-year career has spanned sales, marketing, and aspects of audience development. David’s contributions to Source Media’s award-winning revenue work are defined by vibrant creativity and advocacy for the underdog. David was a part of Meta’s inaugural Membership Accelerator and now coaches for Meta & LION’s Revenue Growth Fellowship.
Elaine Díaz Rodríguez is the senior manager of coaching at LION Publishers. She was most recently founder and editor-in-chief of Periodismo de Barrio, an independent investigative publication in Cuba, where she led coverage on social and environmental issues and climate change alongside doing fundraising and institutional development work. She has worked with SembraMedia, a non-profit that helps independent media in Ibero-America find and develop sustainable business models. Her work there included serving as an ambassador manager for a team of ambassadors representing the digital media ecosystem across Latin America and as a mentor for Metis, a business mentorship program for women founders of independent digital media projects in the region. Additional career highlights include seven years as a professor of digital journalism at the University of Havana and a 2014-2015 Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University.
Graham Ringo, a 20-year journalism veteran, is a senior director at the News Revenue Hub in charge of client success and the point of contact for the organization’s newest tech venture, the News Revenue Engine. A proud Mizzou graduate and Online News Association board member, Graham has worked for major metros, digital behemoths, and scrappy digital nonprofit startups, and is a lover of the full-funnel approach, well-crafted CTAs, killer UX, and insider journalism speak.
Jennifer Preston is the former VP for Journalism at the Knight Foundation, where she founded NewsMatch and funded capability and capacity building for local news orgs to help get them on a path to sustainable growth. She can help with audience development, reader revenue, tech, DEI, leadership, community engagement, philanthropic giving, and more. She is a connector and will help connect news orgs to resources that will help them grow. Before joining Knight, Jennifer spent almost 20 years at the NYT as a staff writer, editor, first social media editor and senior news executive, where she developed expertise in strategic planning, HR, financial planning, budgeting and analysis. She is on the board and treasurer for The City, a nonprofit local news org in NYC.
Maple Walker Lloyd is the director of development and community engagement at Block Club Chicago. She is working extensively on their fundraising strategies through philanthropic support, individual donations, events and corporate sponsorships. Maple has also participated in the Texas Tribune Events Bootcamp, GNI-INN Sponsorship Lab and Meta Journalism Project Reader Revenue Accelerator to increase Block Club’s earned revenue.
Maria Catalina Colmenares-Wiss has been working with independent media organizations for the past 15 years, focusing on sustainability, diversifying revenue streams, aligning digital strategies and finding operational efficiencies. Maria believes deeply in the mission of independent media and loves providing strategic business advice to foster growth and health. She has worked as a consultant, strategic advisor and program director for an impact investment firm with a mission to support independent media across the global south.
Buy an early bird ticket for the 2024 Independent News Sustainability Summit in Chicago
Members who purchase an early bird ticket will be entered to win a raffle for a free hotel room upgrade.
Become a LION community ambassador to help connect and support independent news publishers
Community ambassadors will facilitate connections and community-building with fellow LION members.
43 LION members selected for Sustainability Audit’s 2024 February-April cycle
Publishers will receive expert guidance and $20,000 in direct funding.