We’re excited to announce the next 43 LION members participating in the LION Sustainability Audits and Funding program, which helps independent news businesses identify and overcome barriers to reaching sustainability. So far, 175 LION members have participated in the program, receiving funding and an action plan tailored to their organizational goals.
The program includes a thorough assessment of each participating news business, including actionable recommendations, resources, and up to $20,000 in direct funding to help them take the next steps toward organizational sustainability (see how we’ve charted the path to sustainability via our maturity model). These organizations will work with dedicated expert analysts who will offer guidance based on each organization’s needs and ambitions.
Applications for the Sustainability Audits are open now through September 9, and all U.S.-based LION members who have not yet received an Audit are encouraged to apply. LION intends to complete 173 total Sustainability Audits in 2024.
You can read more about each participating organization and their interest in the Audit below. Congratulations to these 43 news businesses as they continue along their journey to organizational sustainability!
Based in: Rancho Cordova, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As a bootstrapping, startup newsroom with zero dollars in funding, I am interested in exploring and developing a game plan for taking Archetype from concept to launch in just three months. I have spent months developing the infrastructure on my own dime and with little help. As we set our sights on launch this year, the business of Archetype begins now. This program will help me take practical steps to develop a sustainable digital publication.
Mission: Archetype aims to become the leading source of essential news and information happening in and around Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Bucks County Beacon
Based in: Philadelphia, PA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have seen substantial growth in our first two years of existence. Now, I think the time is right to make sure we have all of our systems in place, and that we can grow sustainably from here.
Mission: We are a reader-supported, participatory media outlet that catalyzes community building and increases civic engagement, while protecting democracy by exposing right wing extremism and the rise of authoritarianism.
Based in: Burlington, MA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Buzz has expanded beyond my expectations, and we are ready to take some tangible steps to solidify our practices and be sure our operations are scalable.
Mission: Burlington Buzz connects the Burlington, MA community via daily reporting on local government and current events.
Dallas Free Press
Based in: Dallas, TX
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We want to be able to hire and equitably pay the employees we need — both on the business and journalism sides — in order to thoroughly report on, and tell stories for and with Dallas’ disinvested neighborhoods, as well as to involve neighbors in civic and journalism processes. DFP also needs a solid plan for growth and a way to make decisions about when and how we grow. We are excited for the opportunity to go through this program and receive the professional feedback and support we need to continue working towards our vision of what sustainability looks like for us.
Mission: Dallas Free Press’ mission is to amplify voices in disinvested neighborhoods and explore solutions to our city’s systemic inequities.
Based in: Sarasota, FL
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: To keep dineSarasota growing and thriving, we need revenue. We’re hoping that the Sustainability Audit will help provide a roadmap to future revenue streams.
Mission: dineSarasota seeks to provide Sarasota-Bradenton area residents and visitors with timely, accurate, and actionable information on our local restaurant community. We have a large density of independently owned and operated restaurants. Since 2002, we have strived to spotlight these places through our Sarasota Bites newsletter, our annual printed Sarasota dining book, and our website. And we hope to be doing it for a long time to come!
East Lansing Info
Based in: East Lansing, MI
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are a local nonprofit news source for our community. We are small and would like to grow; however, we don’t have the staff bandwidth. If we can increase funding by having a more concrete fundraising strategy, as well as improve our internal operations, we could do so much more.
Mission: We bring East Lansing the news.
Based in: Santa Barbara, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are looking for support in terms of financial growth, operational flexibility, and audience reach. We’d like to increase revenue through consistent streams in order to expand our journalistic impact and continue providing fresh daily content while maintaining a healthy work-life balance for our staff. Additionally, our goal is to prove that our hybrid model of journalism will work in small local markets.
Mission: Our mission is to provide a hyper-local platform that offers a unique hybrid of traditional and citizen journalism to keep readers informed and engaged in local happenings.
Enlace Latino NC
Based in: Raleigh, NC
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Conducting this Sustainability Audit represents a significant opportunity for our digital news outlet, providing us with deep insights into sustainable practices and effective implementation strategies. We hope that this Audit will offer us a clearer picture of where we currently stand and unveil new opportunities for the future.
Mission: Enlace Latino NC is North Carolina’s first nonprofit digital news organization in Spanish. Our mission is to empower the diverse community of Latinx immigrants in North Carolina to become more involved in the political and social changes that affect them.
FāVS News (formerly SpokaneFāVS)
Based in: Spokane, WA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Our publication is over a decade old, but we recently came into some money and feel like we have new energy to do new things! We are growing our staff and redesigned our website, but want to reach more audiences and gain new members. We also want more of the community to know about the good and unique work we are doing.
Mission: FāVS News informs and builds faith and non-faith community through digital journalism and online and offline engagement opportunities.
Hudson Valley Pilot, Inc.
Based in: Rhinebeck, NY
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We got off to a good start in 2023, outperforming our initial estimates of audience, editorial output and revenues. Now we need to refine our plans to target our staff and resources in a way that gives us the greatest chance to retain staff and build our service in a way that local citizens will view us as a major piece of civic infrastructure.
Mission: The Hudson Valley Pilot is a vital news, information and community service serving the people of Rhinebeck and our neighboring towns and villages. We will provide unbiased, fact-based reporting and analysis about our local government, our schools, our businesses, arts and community affairs. We will analyze the challenges we face as a community and look for insight and solutions that will impact us now and in the foreseeable future. We will provide a platform for sharing stories, journalistic collaborations and opinions, all in the public interest to reflect the growth, history and diversity of the region. We will partner with other regional news providers to build a strong, widely used, sustainable local news network for the towns and villages throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley. We believe that independent, community-supported journalism is essential to the future of Rhinebeck and the region.
Ipswich Local News
Based in: Ipswich, MA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have been in business for just over four years and have passed our initial start-up period. We still need to grow a little to become fully sustainable.
Mission: To report the news fairly and accurately in our area.
Based in: Los Angeles, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: This is a crucial time in Los Angeles politics, and Knock LA is carrying out an essential mission to inform Angelenos on the issues that impact them, from housing to police violence to LGBTQ+ rights. Knock LA is bursting with potential, and we have grown considerably over the past two years, but we require guidance on how to handle that growth efficiently and responsibly grow further.
Mission: We believe in the tradition of community organizing and journalism as a public service. We believe that, when unobserved and underreported, power leads to corruption. We believe that corporate media outlets are too often forced to serve as publicists for institutional power. Knock LA is powered by passionate journalists, editors, and photographers working together to bring a new perspective to Angelenos.
La Esquina TX
Based in: Houston, TX
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As a young, independent local news organization, we want to ensure we build a sustainable business from the ground up. The Audit will provide an in-depth analysis of where we currently stand when it comes to long-term stability and growth opportunities. The insights from the Audit will allow us to diagnose strengths and pain points across areas like leadership, finances, operations, and audience engagement.
Mission: Our mission is to inform, educate, and provide the necessary tools so that the community, home to the fourth largest Latino population in the United States, can empower itself in the face of complex social situations.
Lake County News
Based in: Lucerne, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: To improve our publication’s financial stability while also increasing the impact of our journalistic coverage.
Mission: Lake County News is dedicated to faithfully, accurately and contextually reporting on rural Lake County, California, applying its core values of tried and true journalistic techniques and the highest ethical standards to the ever-evolving medium of hyperlocal online news publishing.
LINK Media, LLC
Based in: Covington, KY
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As a young news organization, heading into our third year, sustainability is our key focus. We want to be around for our community not just today, but far into the future, and a sustainable business model is the only way to ensure longevity.
Mission: With a focus on the public interest, LINK Media advances the Northern Kentucky Metro in the region, the commonwealth and the nation by providing transformative coverage of the news of the day with focus on the deeper issues that matter most to our community.
Mississippi Free Press
Based in: Jackson, MS
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We want to move from startup to sustainability.
Mission: The mission of the Mississippi Free Press, a nonprofit statewide newsroom that launched in March 2020, is to publish deep public-interest reporting into causes of and solutions to the social, political, and systemic challenges facing all Mississippians and their communities. Mississippians need to know each other across regions despite geographic and other differences. We are introducing Mississippians to each other through our deep systemic and accountability reporting and people-focused storytelling, and by convening online and physical “solutions circles,” using our statewide networks to ensure inclusivity and representation. A diverse mix of mostly native Mississippians brings award-winning and impactful journalism expertise, institutional knowledge, and a wide range of professional and life experiences to the MFP. Our advisers are historians, race-equity experts, former mayors, family members of civil-rights heroes, and other knowledgeable Mississippians focused on progress in our state.
North Carolina Health News
Based in: Chapel Hill, NC
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have a great product, we want to get it to more people and to deepen the relationship that readers, sponsors and donors have to NC Health News. Our founder is looking to create a five-year plan to transition out of the ED role, this will require creating a stronger, more sustainable operation that can be carried forward by someone else. And we want to increase revenue, both by developing new revenue streams and by strengthening the existing ones.
Mission: North Carolina Health News is an independent, not-for-profit, statewide news organization dedicated to covering health care in North Carolina employing the highest journalistic standards of fairness, accuracy and extensive research. We were founded in response to the decrease in health reporters around the state. We were founded because we believe that to make the best decisions about their health care and about the state’s health care system, the citizens of North Carolina need the best information possible. NCHN seeks to become the premiere source for health reporting in North Carolina.
Based in: Kalamazoo, MI
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Sustainability is the primary goal, right? We’re big fans of LION’s model for sustainability, and we’ve been using that to guide our development thinking. We very much want to grow a community institution that’s built to last. We value the insight LION’s team brings in this area — there’s perhaps no opinion and advice we want more.
Mission: NowKalamazoo is a nonprofit community news service and a public resource for all who live, work and play in Kalamazoo County. We produce high-quality journalism that serves the public good, and we assist citizens in accessing civic information. Our mission is to empower our readers with the information they need to make informed decisions, hold those in power accountable, and create positive change in our community.
Based in: Oakland, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Open Vallejo seeks to participate in this Sustainability Audit to ensure our organization can serve Vallejoans well into the future. We also seek to grow our nonprofit to serve and sustain other newsrooms in communities throughout California.
Mission: Open Vallejo is an award-winning, independent, non-partisan, nonprofit newsroom serving the public interest. We seek to illuminate a small city long burdened by police violence, corruption, and neglect. As the first project of the Informed California Foundation, Open Vallejo is also a permanent design laboratory for open source, high-impact, broadly-accessible frameworks for ensuring local transparency, accountability, and information justice.
Q Voice News
Based in: Long Beach, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We want to look at our business in a holistic manner. We want to examine our technology side, revenue generation, audience engagement, and coverage to see where we can improve.
Mission: Q Voice News publishes compelling journalism that connects, elevates, and engages the LGBTQ+ community.
Based in: Spokane, WA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Through two cohorts, LION programs have been extremely useful in helping us think through the business needs and case for RANGE. We’ve now grown to the point that we can really see the need to get more rigorous with process, planning and growth. Looking forward to the next step in that evolution.
Mission: RANGE is a media organization for people who love the Inland Northwest and want to make it better. We are building an anti-racist, equity-minded, class-focused newsroom striving to spotlight the perspectives and expertise of members of marginalized communities, from the ground up. We report honestly and fairly, and host incredible conversations with folks whose talent, vision, and expertise isn’t always heralded in traditional media.
Based in: Princeton, NJ
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We would like to update our content management system and grow our digital revenue.
Mission: Reporte Hispano is NJ’s Hispanic newspaper and website — the only Spanish-language website in NJ, which is one of the largest Hispanic markets in the U.S. and the world.
Based in: Roscoe, IL
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We need consistent funds to pay our dedicated journalists, to attract more qualified staff, and to allow this work to continue when we’re gone.
Mission: To deliver local news and information for and about Roscoe, Rockton, and South Beloit, Illinois that is accurate, relevant, useful, and builds community.
Southasia Peace / Sapan News
Based in: Cambridge, MA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are a mission-driven, volunteer organization trying to become professional. We need to be sustainable in order to continue our work, but we are not sure if we are going about it the right way. We hope that participating in the Sustainability Audit will help guide us and provide a framework as well as some funds to help us move forward.
Mission: Sapan News Network aims to produce honest, non-partisan, nuanced, reliable journalism that connects and covers Southasia*, the Indian Ocean, and the diaspora and furthers the narrative of peace, dialogue, and regionalism, expanding spaces for empathy and compassion.
Based in: Seal Beach, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I’m a journalist passionate about local news. But I need help and guidance to turn Spotlight Schools into a thriving newsroom that’s sustainable and serves the public interest. I think the Audit can help me achieve this goal.
Mission: Spotlight Schools helps you better understand, navigate and participate in the K-12 public school experience in Orange County.
Springfield Daily Citizen
Based in: Springfield, MO
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Springfield Daily Citizen has had a promising start, but as we celebrate our second anniversary, we’re looking to improve our operations to ensure our sustainability long into the future. Our goal is to achieve financial sustainability after five years, and as could be expected, we know adjustments are needed to meet our objective. The Sustainability Audit program provides an opportunity to get advice and insights from outside experts who can help us improve and achieve our ultimate goal to serve our community.
Mission: The mission of the Springfield Daily Citizen is to inform our community and be a catalyst for good.
Based in: Philadelphia, PA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: After more than 10 years of a working model, the pandemic changed everything for us. We’ve done considerable work to update who we are and what we do, but coming into our 15th year of publishing, we need a solid outside assessment of where we are now and need to go next.
Mission: We believe innovation should come from anyone anywhere so all communities can thrive. Technical.ly is a news organization that connects and challenges a community of technologists and entrepreneurs who are invested in where they live.
The Berkeley Scanner
Based in: Berkeley, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I launched The Berkeley Scanner in 2022 and have been astounded by the deep community interest and support from the start. As a one-person operation, it can be tough to zero in on the top priorities and find any kind of work-life balance. I believe the Audit will help in both these areas and also help me plan for future growth.
Mission: The Berkeley Scanner is an independent daily news outlet devoted to robust, authoritative crime and public safety reporting in Berkeley, California.
The Coronado News
Based in: Coronado, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As a new publication with a small staff, we want to be the most productive while expanding our coverage to neighboring Imperial Beach. We would like insight into how to obtain additional resources through grants. And we want to identify revenue sources to have long-term sustainability.
Mission: The Coronado News is a daily website and weekly paper serving the communities of Coronado and Imperial Beach to be the go-to news source for breaking news while providing in-depth, investigative journalism that impacts the communities.
The E’ville Eye Community News
Based in: Emeryville, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I’ve reached a point where my organization’s growth has stalled and I need outside insights, accountability and direction from others to advance this to a sustainable level. I’m also considering pivoting to a nonprofit model and would like guidance from others familiar with this transition.
Mission: Making every resident, employee and visitor of Emeryville and the adjacent neighborhoods more informed and aware citizens.
The Eastsider LLC
Based in: Los Angeles, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We now rely on three sources of revenue: grants, advertising and reader revenue. I’m interested in the Audit to help provide guidance on how to boost revenue from each source and how we can become more effective and efficient tending and growing these very different operations without having to hire three different managers. On the editorial side, we need to figure out how we can create and manage a network of neighborhood correspondents to provide deeper coverage.
Mission: Our mission is to keep readers on the Eastside of Los Angeles informed and connected by delivering timely news, stories and information in a concise and engaging manner. Recognizing the diversity of our communities, we endeavor to highlight our shared experiences and cultivate a sense of pride and unity.
The Lawrence Times
Based in: Lawrence, KS
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We’ve been publishing for almost three years, and we’re ready to take things to the next level. We want to focus on the bigger picture so we can keep doing this work for a long, long time to come. Every single priority on the list above applies.
Mission: The Lawrence Times values people over power and profit; individuals over institutions; and community above all else. We want to cover the news that matters most to our readers and amplify voices that have historically been silenced.
Based in: New Orleans, LA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Our community depends on The Lens. Understanding the current state of our business operations, including financial, will help inform our future planning.
Mission: The Lens is the New Orleans area’s first nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest newsroom, dedicated to unique investigative and explanatory journalism. Our mission is to educate, engage and empower readers with information and analysis necessary for them to advocate for a more transparent and just governance that is accountable to the public.
The New Bedford Light
Based in: New Bedford, MA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I would like to have an informed and agreed upon growth vision for The Light. We have differing internal ideas about our future and direction.
Mission: We seek to inform and nourish the civic culture of New Bedford and surrounding towns by providing in-depth, fact-based journalism and a broad platform for diverse community voices. Through our innovative Journalism Incubator Project, we promote media literacy and educate the public about the vital role of a free press in bolstering our democracy.
The News Reporter
Based in: Whiteville, NC
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As a family owned, independent legacy publisher, we could benefit from a skilled, outside set of eyes on our books and operation. While we’ve seen success with some digital initiatives, including our metered paywall and e-mail newsletter, we’re still heavily reliant on print advertising revenue. We need to ensure that we’re diversifying and cultivating revenue sources to ensure long-term sustainability.
Mission: The News Reporter improves our readers’ lives, fosters community and holds public institutions and leaders accountable by producing high quality news and information that can’t be found anywhere else.
Based in: Williamsburg, VA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I believe my news organization would benefit tremendously from the thorough assessment offered through the Sustainability Audit. This process will help me to step back and do the much-needed work of more deeply analyzing the current strengths and weaknesses of my business. I look forward to receiving recommendations and resources to help guide my organization toward sustainability.
Mission: The Triangle strives to promote community engagement and inform the civic dialogue by providing relevant and accessible news and information. We pledge to offer nonpartisan, non-biased coverage of topics that matter to local residents. In all that we do, earning the trust and respect of our audience is imperative. We are a locally owned and operated publication that puts the community first.
Tri-State Lookout, LLC
Based in: Milford, PA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I’m looking for guidance about optimal ways to bring in paid subscribers and sponsors to pay freelancers to do more coverage, as now I do most stories. I would also like some guidance about how best to work with my editorial advisory board and other community supporters. And I’m interested in funding that would jumpstart more funding via fundraising or other sources.
Mission: The Tri-State Lookout is looking out for you in Port Jervis and Warwick, New York; Milford, Pennsylvania; and neighboring New Jersey towns. We report on local government, public health, education, the environment, social issues, cultural events and more.
Based in: Tucson, AZ
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We launched the Tucson Agenda in July 2023 and while our subscriber base started off strong and grew quickly, it’s slowed down a lot. We are both reporters, so the business side of running a news operation is completely new. We want to learn how to continue to grow our audience so that we can become sustainable, and also explore ways to expand our reach in the community and produce stories that resonate and impact the community.
Mission: The Tucson Agenda provides rigorous reporting on local government, politics and government-adjacent organizations. We connect the dots between who is doing what and why at Tucson City Hall, the county building, and beyond to help Tucsonans understand local political machinations, so our readers — our fellow voters — can make informed decisions, show up to town halls, or otherwise agitate for what matters most to them, whether it’s advocating for policies or just voting them out. We also explain how neighbors step up, take on problems and find solutions. We aim to help readers understand the effects of political decisions and the motives of the people behind them. We’re here to make sure you know your Tucson and Pima County politicians, how your government works and how you can change it.
Based in: Tucson, AZ
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We’re looking forward to taking part in the Sustainability Audit process to determine how Tucson Sentinel can leverage our current strengths and continue to grow the capacity and impact of our independent nonprofit newsroom. As a founding member of LION Publishers, the Sentinel’s going on our 15th year of serving our community in the Borderlands of Southern Arizona, and we’re confident this program will help us integrate business-side strategies to support our work to listen more intently, learn more comprehensively, diversify our revenues and approaches, and dig where no one else does to tell stories that you just can’t read anyplace else.
Mission: Tucson Sentinel’s independent nonprofit newsroom is an award-winning journalism pioneer that learns from and informs Southern Arizonans about the community challenges and unique culture of our Borderlands. Through watchdog reporting, local commentary and expert analysis, the Sentinel inspires residents to be meaningfully engaged with our community, promotes transparency and understanding, seeks solutions that empower, and holds the powerful accountable.
Based in: Waterbury, VT
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: When our weekly print newspaper shut down in late March 2020, Waterbury Roundabout was created as a class project to fill the information void as reliable, accurate local news was in high demand in our community as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded. We dove in as volunteers, without a business plan and without expectations other than to presume we would figure things out along the way. Now nearly four years along, we know our work is valued, but our challenge is to determine if and how our community can sustain this new online news model into the foreseeable future for it to thrive and even grow.
Mission: Our mission is to provide readers with news about local government, schools, businesses, community organizations, events and the people who live, work and play in and around the Waterbury region. We hope readers will find our coverage a reliable source of objective, accurate information. We hope to provide a source of connection. Through photos and stories, we hope to hold up a mirror to our community.
Based in: Three Rivers, MI
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I want to increase our capacity and revenue so we can focus on what truly matters: the work. Over the past four years, I’ve had two staff writers for less than a year each; otherwise, I have been the lone journalist. We just had our best year financially, and I want to continue that momentum.
Mission: We aim to serve as a reputable source for local news and culture for communities across Southwest Michigan. We believe when citizens are informed on local issues they are more likely to be active members in their community. We work in direct contact with people affected by problems, and aim to listen and respond to our readers’ priorities and questions. We seek to highlight solutions to this area’s pressing concerns, in an effort to make our community a better place.
Based in: Menomonie, WI
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I have struggled with maintaining sufficient sustainability to expand beyond a one-person operation. I want to learn how to fix this.
Mission: WisCommunity brings you community-based news about Dunn County, Wisconsin. Our news is the information you need to engage with the community and to understand more deeply what is happening in your home.
Based in: Los Angeles County, CA
Interest in the Sustainability Audit: For me, the possibility of being part of the LION Audit has come at the right time. We are doing critically important reporting, but I need help in creating a plan for fiscal sustainability that will also allow us to grow our newsroom.
Mission: WitnessLA is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan source of criminal justice news in the public interest. We have a special focus on the ways that the juvenile justice and criminal justice systems affect the health and well-being of communities and their residents in Los Angeles County and beyond.
The analysts for 2024 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 executive director 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 Awards 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.
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 at 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.
Dan Petty is the director of audience strategy for ProPublica. He leads the organization’s audience team, whose focus is to help ProPublica journalism reach wide, loyal and diverse audiences on and off the organization’s platforms. He was previously director of audience development at MediaNews Group, where he worked on editorial strategy, operations and business development and helped build the company’s digital subscription business. He previously spent seven years at the Denver Post in a variety of production and editing roles, and he has consulted for news organizations in Kazakhstan on behalf of the International Center for Journalists and the U.S. State Department. He received a bachelor of science in biology and journalism from the University of Richmond and an MBA with honors from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2022.
Elaine Díaz is the Associate Director of Coaching at LION Publishers. She was most recently the 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, The Wall Street Journal, The 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 the Vice President of Customer Success and Growth 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 Mizgata is a consultant and coach who collaborates with organizations on program design, audience research, business and operational strategy. Specializing in digital innovation, leadership development and organizational change, Jennifer coaches managers, senior leaders and entrepreneurs on their careers and business strategies. She helps teams and individuals shift mindset, work more collaboratively and bring new products to market. With extensive experience working at the intersection of journalism and technology, she has worked as a program director, editor and business strategist, using human-centered design to build new products that respond to community needs and help create a more equitable world. She also teaches media, innovation and business strategy at American University and writes about improving work culture.
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 Associate Director of 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 senior director of development at Block Club Chicago. She works 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. Maple holds a B.A. in Telecommunications from Bowling Green State University, and a Master’s degree in journalism from Full Sail University.
Ryan Tuck is a consultant and coach, advising organizations on all aspects of revenue-raising and audience-centric practices, in addition to product development, user experience, testing and analytics. He specializes in performance-driven change and strategic planning. He has led programming for and coached organizations of all sizes and forms throughout the world. Previously, he worked for about two decades in various roles in and outside the newsroom for a range of organizations, from The New York Times to digital-only startups. He has a B.A. in journalism and political science (and Spanish) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master’s certificate in technology and communication also from UNC, and a law degree from the University of Georgia. Ryan believes that life is best lived busily and with empathy and a constant hunger to learn — and grow. Because he believes so deeply in staying busy, he lives in the eastern United States with his five children and a dog.
Shay Totten is the Newsroom Success Manager at the American Press Institute. Shay works with newsrooms that utilize API’s proprietary analytics tools Metrics for News and Source Matters. Most recently, Shay led the growth and membership strategy at The Compass Experiment (a collaboration between the Google News Initiative and McClatchy) that launched digital newsrooms in underserved communities. He has previously worked as a consultant for the News Revenue Hub, LION Publishers, Inside Climate News, as well as other mission-driven organizations on audience engagement and membership best practices as well as strategic communications. Before working in audience and membership roles, Shay spent more than 15 years in publishing and communications — in top editorial and communication positions at a national nonfiction book publisher, as well as an investigative reporter, political columnist, newsroom editor, and founder and publisher of a digital-print hybrid news organization in Vermont in the early 2000s.
Shira T. Center is the general manager for editorial revenue and strategy at Boston Globe Media. In this role, Shira oversees news programs and products that drive commercial revenue growth, such as the editorial calendar, live journalism events, sponsorships and newsletters. Before pioneering this unique role, Shira was a political journalist for 15 years, both in Washington, D.C. and Boston. She is an alumna of the Poynter Institute’s Leadership Academy for Women in Media and, in 2023, she graduated with her MBA from the Yale School of Management. She has served previously as a coach for LION’s Sustainability Lab, “Unblocking Revenue Barriers.”
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, MS, 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.
Questions About The 2024 LION Sustainability Awards? Get Answers Here!
Welcome to the FAQ guide for the 2024 LION Sustainability Awards!
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.