37 LION members selected for Sustainability Audit’s 2023 June-August cycle

Publishers will receive expert guidance and $20,000

July 11, 2023 by Andrew Rockway

Cycle 1, 2023

The LION Sustainability Audits and Funding program helps LION members identify and overcome barriers to reaching sustainability. Last year, 100 LION members participated in the program, receiving an action plan tailored to their organizational goals.

We’re thrilled to extend this program to an additional 75 LION members this year, starting with the 37 news businesses selected to participate in the 2023 June-August cycle.

The program includes a thorough assessment of each participating news business, including actionable recommendations and up to $20,000 of funding to help them take the next steps toward organizational sustainability.

Applications are open until August 28 for publishers interested in participating in the 2023 September-November cycle. LION also intends to complete an additional 125 Sustainability Audits in 2024.

Congratulations to these first 37 news businesses as they continue along their journey to organizational sustainability!

You can read more about each participating organization and their interest in the Audit below.


Based in: Philadelphia, PA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We need help and you guys are great.

Mission: Strengthen the identity and visibility of Latin American and Caribbean communities, with an emphasis on women, to promote respect, inclusion, and solidarity in the city of Philadelphia. 

Arizona Agenda

Based in: Arizona

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I want to improve internal editorial and business processes as we develop new publications and products and expand into new areas. 

Mission: To help Arizonans better understand the state’s political scene and how the government works so they can make informed decisions and hold their leaders to account.

Arizona Luminaria

Based in: Tucson, AZ

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Arizona Luminaria is a startup that’s ready to grow and scale. We’re learning how to fundraise to expand our coverage and impact at a critical time in Arizona.

Mission: Arizona Luminaria is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to truly local news and community-centered journalism.


Based in: Ashland, OR

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We need to practice the best methods for increasing sustainable revenue to support adequate editorial staff, manage sponsor/underwriter sales, and convert more free subscribers to monthly donors.

Mission: The mission of Ashland.news is to establish a sustainable news service that will inform the civic dialogue and promote cultural engagement by providing accurate, trustworthy and timely local and useful news and information about Ashland and surrounding areas.


Based in: Miami, FL

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I need confirmation that we are working on building up the right existing products, for example, membership, native sponsorships, etc., while building new offerings. I’m feeling overwhelmed and not sure if our prioritization is correct.

Mission: Empowering Hyper-Cultural Latinas With Essential News + Stories Covering Ground Beyond The Usual You See.

Broke-Ass Stuart

Based in: San Francisco, CA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We’re interested in becoming a platform that can be supported by donations, grants, and private industry in the arts. We want to expand our arts coverage and audience and build out an events calendar that’s like an Eventbrite specifically for non-profit arts.

Mission: Since 2007 BrokeAssStuart.com has been dedicated to bringing you the most important news, arts, culture, nightlife, and progressive activism in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Our goal is to amplify voices that may not always get heard and stick up for working people when no one else will.  Our contributing writers come from all walks of life. We prioritize publishing voices that reflect our diverse readership and we strive to bring vital information concerning housing, labor, and activism to the young, broke and beautiful. We write for busboys, poets, social workers, students, artists, musicians, magicians, mathematicians, maniacs, yodelers and everyone else out there who wants to enjoy life not as a rich person, but as a real person. Namely, we write for you.


Based in: Lexington, KY

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I am excited to learn how we can better structure CivicLex and our revenue streams to ensure that we are adequately caring for our staff.

Mission: We are a nonprofit working to improve the civic health of Fayette County, Kentucky. We help residents understand local government, help local government connect with residents, and are building a community in which everyone can meaningfully participate in the decisions that shape where they live.

Education in Atlanta

Based in: Atlanta, GA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I am interested in learning how to scale my news site for it to have an impact on the news in the metro Atlanta area. I want to learn how to turn a profit while expanding reach.

Mission: Education in Atlanta is an equity-led newsroom committed to covering one of Atlanta’s most underreported stories: the effort to improve schools for all children within the metro Atlanta area, especially those who have been disenfranchised from quality education due to race, socioeconomic status, or disability. We are focused on a mission that believes a child’s education should not be incumbent on their zip code. To ensure our work stays authentic, we value the stories of teachers, parents, administrators, community members, and students.

Gig Harbor Now

Based in: Gig Harbor, WA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Gig Harbor Now has been publishing now for about 18 months. We have been successful so far in our fundraising efforts, our journalistic content, and our business planning, but we are ready to grow sustainably in all regards. Having experts to guide us in our growth would be tremendously helpful.

Mission: To create and sustain a community-supported nonprofit news organization that informs, educates and connects our community.

Green Philly

Based in: Philadelphia, PA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Green Philly is celebrating 15 years since our creation, and we’ve frequently evolved in that time. We’re looking forward to evaluating our news organization and adapting for the current environment for continued success.

Mission: Green Philly is a digital media publication that connects people to sustainable solutions through our resources and events. Our mission is to make sustainability local, accessible, and affordable; while also facilitating the local sustainability community’s growth.


Based in: Victoria, BC

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are currently unsustainable in terms of financial health. We have foundation funding for the next two years, but I am hoping to get a new revenue plan in place that takes us off of dependence on foundations. This includes evaluating what business model will serve IndigiNews best going forward.

Mission: We don’t yet have a mission statement, but we do have published intentions.

Island Edition

Based in: Charlottetown, PE

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I will benefit immensely from having a third party take a critical look at Island Edition and offer actionable steps that I can take to build a better business around my news product.

Mission: To connect Islanders with their communities.

Lost Coast Outpost

Based in: Eureka, CA

Mission: We are Humboldt County’s home page.

Mainstreet Daily News

Based in: Gainesville, FL

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We hope to increase our journalistic impact, operational efficiency and financial health through participating in the Sustainability Audit.

Mission: To inform, engage, and inspire our readers to make a difference in the communities and neighborhoods we serve.

McKinley Park News

Based in: Chicago, IL

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Audit is a key next step toward our sustainability that will dovetail so well off the business planning and development work we’ve already accomplished with the help of the Metro Media Lab at Northwestern University’s Medill School.

Mission: To build a thriving local news business.

MLK50: Justice Through Journalism

Based in: Memphis, TN

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: MLK50 wants to make sure we grow with integrity, in a way that matches our justice-oriented values. We hope the Sustainability Audit will give us the space to think through how we better serve our communities AND better sustain our people.

Mission: Our mission is to report on the intersection of poverty, power and policy, and to bear witness to movement making and lived experiences.


Based in: Norwalk, CT

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have been providing hyperlocal news to the Norwalk community for more than a decade, thanks to our determined (and underpaid) founder/editor/reporter and a supportive volunteer board. As we look to the future, we recognize that we must build a more solid financial base to bring in the resources (particularly reporters) needed to continue.

Mission: NancyOnNorwalk informs and engages Norwalkers with watchdog journalism and a digital town square.

Ocala Gazette

Based in: Ocala, FL

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are going to turn three years old on July 6 and revenue has gone down rather than up. We are at a tipping point where I’m not sure how long we will be able to sustain ourselves and I am not too proud to ask for help because the mission is too important.

Mission: To deliver trustworthy local journalism so corruption, misinformation and abuse are not hidden from the public and are not left unchallenged. We also record the local history of our community so it can be recalled years from now.

Oklahoma City Free Press

Based in: Oklahoma City, OK

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Oklahoma City Free Press was conceived as a local news source for the Oklahoma City metropolitan area while primarily targeting government, life, and the people of the City of Oklahoma City. We have never carried any debt and have always been in the black meaning that we have and are growing slowly. We are at the point where we need more revenue and a different way of thinking about revenue and our workflow.

Mission: Provide high-quality, credible news and information about and for the people of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County. Goals: Be physically present when gathering news to gain a better understanding of the story. Expose those who exploit the poor and the powerless and who profit from the hardships of others. Expose intentional misdeeds, lapses in judgment, mistakes by public officials, and those who depend upon public trust for any kind of gain. Report on subjects that are under-reported or ignored by other media. Report news from cultures and neighborhoods in Oklahoma City that are often ignored in English language publications. Fund our operations through a mix of individual contributions and smart advertising that emphasizes a network of relationships.

Philomath News

Based in: Philomath, OR

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I’ve been on my own with this venture with little outside help and thought it might be helpful to pursue an objective point of view on the operation. Perhaps there will be ideas or observations that can help me take this to the next level and help me better work through current challenges.

Mission: The Philomath News is a hyperlocal digital news site providing news, features, sports and information to our valued readers. The News strives to partner with and support local businesses and organizations, provide a voice to Philomath citizens, report news with accuracy and fairness, promote community events and recognize our achievements. We want to build a reputation as a trusted source of information that adds to the lives of our readers.

Planeta Venus Online

Based in: Wichita, KS

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We want to establish our bilingual newsroom as a respected media platform that produces high quality journalism for our bilingual community in Kansas.

Mission: To connect communities through effective communication tools, such as reliable information in Spanish and informing our overall community in Kansas with journalism from a Latino perspective.


Based in: Pittsburgh, PA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: PublicSource has seen success in generating new revenue outside of philanthropy through individual donations and advertising. We’re excited to take a look at our full picture and plan for our next phase, developing our vision for how sustainable revenue streams will support a growing PublicSource.

Mission: PublicSource is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, digital-first media organization dedicated to serving Pittsburgh and the region. PublicSource inspires critical thinking and bold ideas through journalism rooted in facts, diverse voices and the pursuit of transparency.  We listen. We investigate. We tell stories for a better Pittsburgh.

Saco Bay News

Based in: Old Orchard Beach, ME

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I would like to be able to continue operating Saco Bay News with a clear plan for the future.

Mission: Saco Bay News provides accurate, timely local news to the Maine coastal communities of Saco, Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach.

Seaside Post News & The Pacific Grove Press

Based in: Seaside, CA

Mission: Seaside Post News Group is an independent media publishing company that provides news in underserved and marginalized communities on the Central Coast of California. Founded 75 years ago, the Seaside Post has been a trusted leader in delivering important good and bad news in a fair and balanced way. Our content is culturally relevant and not regularly provided by the general circulated media. We actively foster news literacy, volunteerism and civic engagement through our news coverage and events with our readers.

Taproot Edmonton

Based in: Edmonton, AB

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: While we’re pleased with the progress we have made building our business, we know there’s much more to be done. Accessing external expertise and perspectives have always proven helpful in the past and we believe that will be the case with the Audit too. We’re hoping for a fresh look at our business, to reduce the unknown unknowns, and to leave with some actions we can undertake to improve our sustainability and set ourselves up for future success.

Mission: We help communities understand themselves better.

The Assembly NC

Based in: Durham, NC

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Assembly is in a season of growth, but in order to keep growing, we want to make sure we set ourselves up for success with strong infrastructure.

Mission: The Assembly is a digital magazine about the people, institutions, and ideas that shape North Carolina. Founded in 2021, we feature interesting, deeply reported, nuanced stories about our state.

The Border Chronicle

Based in: Tucson, AZ

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have been plugging away for almost two years and we are growing our audience. We still aren’t bringing in enough revenue to make it our full-time job. I’m wondering if it’s time to bring in a development director or someone who can help us with fundraising.

The Buckeye Flame

Based in: Cleveland, OH

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I’m hoping this will help a bit more with our intentionality. We’re forging quickly ahead without as much of a plan as we likely should have. This creates hesitation in making some big decisions as I fear they are not based in long-term sustainability.

Mission: The Buckeye Flame amplifies the voices of LGBTQ+ Ohioans to support community and civic empowerment through the creation of engaging content that chronicles our triumphs, struggles, and lived experiences.

The Flatlander

Based in: Cold Lake, SK

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I am hoping this Sustainability Audit will help me identify how I can grow my revenue stream and minimize expenses. Growing my audience, increasing my membership conversion rate and improving my sponsorship outreach are all areas where an Audit would be helpful.

Mission: The Flatlander untangles complex issues impacting Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Through unbiased reporting and comprehensive analysis, The Flatlander strives to empower readers with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions. The Flatlander amplifies the voices of Prairie people and uncovers stories that celebrate this land we call home.

The Food Section

Based in: Charleston, SC

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I’ve built a strong startup organization, but want to make smart decisions about growth.

Mission: Our motto is “Covering food as though it mattered as much as crime and politics–because it does.”

The Frisc

Based in: San Francisco, CA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have been moving a mile a minute for years, it seems, and with little chance to pressure-test the editorial and business systems that we have built. We have strong ideas on how to improve them, but we lack the resources to move as fast as we would like. It’s definitely time to have outside help assessing priorities, strengths and weaknesses.

Mission: The Frisc is independent 100% San Francisco journalism that fights for a more affordable, inclusive, and accountable city. With every report, feature, and investigation, we provide readers a deeper understanding of San Francisco — how the city got this way, how it works, and how to make it better.

The Highlands Current

Based in: Cold Spring, NY

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have many dedicated readers and members but need to cultivate major donors and find additional revenue streams for sustainability and growth. How do we do that? How have others done it? Should we expand our reach or double down on our current coverage area? Those are all questions we hope to answer.

Mission: Our mission is to be a trusted independent and nonpartisan source of information on topics of importance to our Hudson Highlands communities. Through both our print edition, The Highlands Current, and our website, HighlandsCurrent.org, we seek to provide a vital forum for wide-ranging views and to reflect the diverse interests, concerns and experiences of our readers.

The JOLT – The Journal of Olympia, Lacey & Tumwater

Based in: Olympia, WA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: After three years of operation it’s time for us to take a fresh look at our news site, internal processes and staffing plans.

Mission: The JOLT nourishes the civic lives of Thurston County residents by publishing accurate, relevant and entertaining news and features that help people to become better informed and more involved in local issues and events.

The Lansing Journal

Based in: Lansing, IL

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Lansing Journal is the only independent news source serving Lansing, Illinois, and surrounding small towns in Cook County, a region notorious for political shadiness. If we cease to exist, I fear that involved citizens will disconnect, new businesses will choose other locations, and our sense of community will erode into hopelessness.

Mission: The Lansing Journal builds community by keeping people informed and connected.

The Raincross Gazette

Based in: Riverside, CA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Raincross Gazette spent years as my “side project” and I recently left my role as a founding partner in a creative agency to give it my full focus and give Riverside the news coverage it deserves.

The Record North Shore

Based in: Wilmette, IL

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are proud of what we have accomplished so far, from impactful reporting to revenue growth; however, I am not an expert in evaluating the latter. The Record needs advice, fresh eyes and innovative ideas related to our resources and how they are used.

Mission: The Record Community News is dedicated to producing credible, courageous, community-first journalism on a variety of platforms, including a daily website and weekly newsletters and podcasts. Our goal is to build a reliable and sustainable community-news outlet that enables a better informed and engaged local populace and a more educated and understanding generation of news consumers.


Based in: Arlington, MA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We need to have a broader income stream to move forward, and that includes strategies to reach out to larger donors.

Mission: YourArlington is a local news organization that publishes facts and opinions about Arlington, Mass. We aspire to the highest journalistic standards of accuracy, impartiality and fairness. Our aim is to bolster an engaged citizenry and so strengthen our community and democracy.

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 analysts for 2023 are:

Anne Galloway is the founder and editor-at-large of VTDigger, the statewide newspaper of record for Vermont. In addition to her work as an investigative journalist, she has 13 years of experience in business planning, financial projections, management, growth strategies and fundraising. When she stepped down as ED in 2022, the organization had 35 employees, a budget of more than $3 million, 10,000 contributing members and 600,000 readers a month.

Ariel Zirulnick is the senior editor for community engagement at LAist. She works at the intersection of community engagement, editorial, product, and revenue strategy to ensure LAist’s journalism consistently serves and centers Angelenos’ needs. She also leads an interdisciplinary team experimenting with ways to link engaged journalism and revenue. Prior to KPCC/LAist, she led the Membership in News Fund and Membership Guide at the Membership Puzzle Project, a global public research project studying membership models in news. She previously led The New Tropic, a news startup in Miami; reported from Nairobi; and edited the Christian Science Monitor’s Middle East coverage. She is passionate about doing journalism with communities and building systems that make that sustainable. She’s a member of the 2023 cohort of CUNY’s Executive Program in News Innovation and Leadership. She’s an alumna of the Poynter Women’s Leadership Academy and Miami Fellows.”

Ashley Woods Branch is the executive director of the Fund for Equity in Local News and manages its digital training program for news publishers. Ashley was founder and CEO of the Detour Detroit newsletter, a visiting Nieman fellow, a Marshall Memorial Fellow and a proud LION award winner. She is now a consultant who loves partnering with startup news publishers to help them tackle their biggest challenges and stay sane through the process. Ashley also worked with the Google News Initiative on initiatives like the GNI Startups Lab and coached more than 100 publications through a partnership with the Center for Cooperative Media. Before startup life, she led digital strategy for the Detroit Free Press.

Bene Cipolla is an organizational consultant and coach working with news organizations, media companies, and nonprofits. She loves to connect big ideas to on-the-ground execution and to build things — organizations, teams, workflows, projects — using a design thinking framework. In 2022, she wrapped up a five-year tenure at Chalkbeat, first leading the newsroom as editor and then, as publisher, setting up structures and practices to establish a multi-vertical operation, now known as Civic News Company. Over the course of her career, Bene has tackled just about every facet and format of journalism and media across film, video, radio, print, and digital. Her time in digital startups taught her about launching products, scaling organizations, managing operations, and driving revenue — experiences that enriched her work back in journalism when she returned. She’s a systems thinker with a creative streak (or a creative with a passion for systemic analysis), and she’s never believed in the left brain vs. right brain dichotomy. Bene lives in New York City and spends most of her free time cooking, eating, and talking about cooking and eating.

Chris Krewson is the Executive Director of LION Publishers, working with LION Publishers’ Board of Directors to set the organization’s vision and strategic direction, execute its strategic plan, lead fundraising and budgeting, and engage with industry groups. He’s a former VP of strategy for Spirited Media, former top editor at Philadelphia’s Billy Penn, and the former top digital editor for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. He is based in Havertown, just outside Philadelphia.

Christian Skotte (he/him/his) is an independent consultant who works with non-profits and media brands to grow their audience, deepen their impact, and craft sustainable futures. During his 20+ year career, he has created impactful digital campaigns, overseen organizational rebranding efforts, and built and mentored high performing teams. He’s passionate about journalism and its place in a functioning democracy. Christian was most recently Director of Growth and Innovation and Grist, where he oversaw the audience growth, product, and partnership efforts. Before that, he spent eight years at Science Friday overseeing their digital, audience, and commercial income strategies. A former RJI fellow, he’s spoken at conferences in the U.S. and abroad on topics like digital media and audience growth. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and child.

Christina Shih is an independent consultant focused on journalism sustainability, revenue growth and entrepreneurship. Previously, she served as the Senior VP of Revenue at the News Revenue Hub. Christina has been involved with major initiatives like NewsMatch and the Sustainable Publishing Solutions grant. She has over 10 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and recently obtained her MBA from UC San Diego.

Elaine Diaz 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, environmental issues and climate change alongside 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 16 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.

Frances Dinkelspiel is the co-founder and former executive editor of Cityside, which runs Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside in California. Dinkelspiel and two journalist friends started Berkeleyside in 2009 and developed it from an all-volunteer, bootstrapped organization to a nationally recognized award-winning nonprofit with a staff of 24 and a budget of more than $4 million. Since stepping down in 2022, Dinkelspiel has served as an audit analyst for LION, joined the board of Highway 29, an organization working to strengthen the news ecosystem in Napa Valley, and informally advises other news start-ups. She continues to freelance (Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Daily Beast, and elsewhere). She is the author of two bestselling nonfiction books, Towers of Gold and Tangled Vines.

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.

Joanne Griffith is the chief content officer for APM Studios, the podcast-production division of American Public Media. She is also the founder of En(title)d! Leaders, a conversation and coaching space for leaders of color in media. Joanne was the founding managing editor of the California Newsroom, an NPR regional news hub, where she worked closely with local newsrooms and independent online news organizations, developing strategies for audience engagement, guidance on editorial projects and training of newcomers and established newsroom leaders. Joanne is committed to diversity and inclusion in content creation, and the audiences that need it.

Lisa Heyamoto is the Programming Director for Membership Education at LION Publishers, where she helps LION members reach sustainability by designing and overseeing the creation of training programs, coaching/consulting opportunities and practical resources that help news businesses become more operationally resilient, financially healthy and journalistically impactful. She was previously a journalism educator and program coordinator at the University of Oregon and a reporter at The Seattle Times and The Sacramento Bee.

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. Previously, she was team coordinator for the Journalism and Media program at the MacArthur Foundation and weekend news anchor for WGN Radio.

Todd Stauffer currently serves as the association manager for the Association of Alternative Newsmedia and AAN’s lead digital specialist and lab director for grant-funded revenue labs. Before joining AAN, he was the publisher and co-founder of the Jackson Free Press, an alternative newsweekly (sometimes bi-weekly, sometimes monthly) that served Jackson, Miss., from 2002 until 2022 when its journalism assets were acquired by the non-profit Mississippi Free Press. Todd has enjoyed the opportunity to participate in sustainability audits and revenue coaching for LION Publishers in the past. As a staunch believer in the First Amendment and a proponent of the Fourth Estate, Todd enjoys working with startups and legacy publishers who seek to improve revenues, add a revenue stream or dig deeper into opportunities to sustain their journalism.

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