47 LION members selected for Sustainability Audit’s 2024 May-July cycle

Publishers will receive expert guidance and $20,000.

May 14, 2024 by Andrew Rockway

Cycle 2, 2024

We’re excited to announce the next 47 LION members participating in the LION Sustainability Audits and Funding program, which helps independent news businesses identify and overcome barriers to reaching sustainability. To date, 218 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.

In April, we outlined LION’s plan for the future of Sustainability Audits as a tool to assess and support the growth of independent news businesses of all different sizes and ambitions. Toward that end, we are excited to partner with Blue Engine, an organization that coaches news organizations in every area of journalism sustainability, for Cycle 2 of this year’s program. Blue Engine will conduct Audits for 10 LIONs that we classify as being in our “Growing” stage, helping improve how we define sustainability and offer support for larger organizations.

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 47 news businesses as they continue along their journey to organizational sustainability!


Interest in the Sustainability Audit:  While we’ve made great strides in our operations and workflows, maintaining the level we’re at now isn’t sustainable.

Mission: AfroLA is solutions-focused, data-driven and community-centered journalism for Los Angeles, told through the lens of the Black community, and with emphasis on how news may disparately impact L.A.’s most vulnerable groups and communities of color.

Based in: Los Angeles, CA

Alameda Post Inc.

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are in our third year of operations, and although we have learned a lot, there is much more that we do not know. Our goal is to strengthen our business to ensure our ability to serve our community for many more years to come.

Mission: The Alameda Post serves the community by reporting current news and information, promoting community groups, diversity, and cultural awareness, and preserving Alameda’s history for future generations.

Based in: Alameda, CA

Athens County Independent

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have big ambitions for the Independent and for our publishing entity, Southeast Ohio Independent News. We want to create a replicable model for sustainable local news in rural and impoverished areas. We don’t know what we don’t know, so the Sustainability Audit is a way for us to learn more about our current operations and how we can improve them.

Mission: The Athens County Independent empowers community engagement through accessible public service journalism.

Based in: Athens, OH

Black Belt News Network

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Black Belt News Network covers multiple counties in an impoverished, rural area in Alabama’s midsection where the community gets no regular online news coverage. Filling that news desert is expensive and requires more people than we currently have. We hope the Audit will help us find our future, which could include becoming a nonprofit, so we can stay around and provide news to a community that desperately needs us.

Mission: The Black Belt News Network is a regional online news site that covers six counties in the rural and culturally rich midsection of Alabama. We bring news to readers through traditional in-depth stories written by experienced journalists and through innovative journalism that includes video packages, social media engagement and a live weekly newscast. We are also the community’s news agency, gathering information, photos and videos from a diverse freelance staff made up of moms, teachers, recent grads, retirees and students from throughout the six counties to ensure all corners are reached.

Based in: Selma, AL

BoiseDev (Day365 LLC)

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are five years into our business and have seen great growth. We are working to expand our coverage, improve our staffing levels and pay for journalists; this is a great opportunity to help that.

Mission: We do not have a mission statement as we think it’s self-evident, but instead have adopted these values: We strive to be an innovative and impartial local news source focused on original & transparent reporting. We seek to give a voice to those without power. Our team will be accountable to each other and our readers. We will be gracious and tactful. We put readers first.

Based in: Boise, ID

Borderless Magazine

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I want to take Borderless to the next level: having a $1 million plus budget, a staff of 10+ and a strong financial reserve.

Mission: Borderless Magazine NFP is reimagining immigration journalism for a more just and equitable future.

Based in: Chicago, IL

Bushwick Daily / Brooklyn New Media LLC

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Bushwick Daily is interested in a Sustainability Audit to ensure the long-term viability of our operations and deepen our community engagement. By refining our strategies through insights from the Audit, we aim to enhance operational efficiency and financial health, optime resource allocation and grow revenue to maximize our impact. This process will allow us to maintain and expand our role as a crucial resource for Bushwick’s diverse population.

Mission: Bushwick Daily is the cornerstone of community engagement in Bushwick, Brooklyn, providing thorough local news and dynamic cultural coverage. We empower residents with insightful journalism to understand and influence their surroundings, strengthening connections within the community.

Based in: New York, NY

Chicago Southsider

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Chicago Southsider began as a digital newsletter startup within Facebook’s Bulletin program. After the program was discontinued, we lost our primary source of revenue. Despite exploring various revenue opportunities over the past two years, none have significantly improved our financial sustainability. Through the LION Sustainability Audit, I aim to gain feedback and insights that will help me assess whether Chicago Southsider can achieve financial sustainability within the next 12 months, allowing us to continue serving our more than 30,000 subscribers.

Mission: Chicago Southsider is a Facebook Bulletin newsletter-turned-community news site that helps to “unlock the best of Chicago’s South Side, one community at a time.” Our mission is to amplify the stories, perspectives, and experiences of historically marginalized individuals and communities by leveraging solutions journalism, and providing community resources and news.

Based in: Chicago, IL

Chilkat Valley News

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: This newspaper has been in business since 1966 but has never meaningfully pivoted to digital either internally or externally. I’m particularly interested in identifying processes that could make our current revenue streams easier to manage, identifying new potential revenue streams that staff are qualified and capable of managing, and identifying ways we could streamline our current news operation.

Mission: We are an independent newsroom telling stories that celebrate the unique spirit of the Chilkat Valley and Southeast Alaska. We focus on systemic disparities, highlight marginalized communities and explore solutions aimed at creating a more equitable society. We aim to create unity and belonging in our communities by writing stories that foster understanding, spark meaningful conversations and value problems and solutions equally. We deliver enlightening journalism that engages and inspires our diverse Southeast Alaska communities. In our work culture, we prioritize fairness and editorial independence while also capturing that spirit of adventure that brings so many to the state. We support that culture through internal processes that prioritize equity in staffing, build resilience into our workflows and commit to fact-based storytelling above all else.

Based in: Haines, AK


Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are assessing our business model, seeking to bolster existing revenue and working to develop different revenue streams.

Mission: We’re bringing transparency to healthcare by telling people what stuff costs, and also using our knowledge to increase equitable access to healthcare.

Based in: Pelham, NY

Cloudcroft Reader

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: To get advice and help to build a sustainable model for a rural news site, including understanding how to get the most from scarce resources and identifying where to place time and effort.

Mission: To serve the village of Cloudcroft and surrounding communities with independent reporting, focusing on governmental agencies to keep them accountable to the people they serve.

Based in: Cloudcroft, NM

Eden Prairie Local News, Inc.

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are transitioning from what began as an all-volunteer start-up in 2020 to a more mature online news source where people can earn a living wage. We rely on donations and funding from sponsors, advertisers, community organizations, and foundations, and we’re on plan to do $190,000 in revenue (FYE 6/30). We estimate that we’ll need an annual budget of $700,000 to achieve long-term sustainability. We’re wrestling with how to do that in a market that’s limited to 64,000 residents.

Mission: The mission of Eden Prairie Local News is to serve our community with trustworthy reporting, compelling stories, and news you can use — anytime, anywhere.

Based in: Eden Prairie, MN

Hendersonville Lightning

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We want to learn more about growing our audience both in print and online. We want to increase both retail print advertising and online advertising. We’d like to explore the feasibility of new products and community event sponsorships.

Mission: When news happens, Lightning strikes. Founded in April 2012, the Hendersonville Lightning is a weekly paid print product and all-the-time website that covers Henderson County, North Carolina, with an emphasis on government and institutional transparency and accountability. We cover politics, local government, business, development/growth management/disruptive land use and the cultural landscape. While the Lightning is not a nonprofit — at least not on purpose — we are a community trust.

Based in: Hendersonville, NC

J. The Jewish News of Northern California

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Always looking for help in finding better ways to earn revenue and achieve sustainability.

Mission: J.’s mission is to connect, enlighten and strengthen the multi-faceted Jewish community of Northern California.

Based in: San Francisco, CA


Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I would like to learn how to better run my business and make it last into the future, especially in a more sustainable manner.

Mission: We have committed ourselves to fact-based, in-depth, contextual, and non-partisan journalism. 

Based in: Levittown, PA


Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Sustainability Audit is a unique opportunity to catalyze growth by providing outside perspective, expert guidance and learning from other members of the cohort.

Mission: Empower the people of Lakeland with the local news and information they need to be civically engaged.

Based in: Lakeland, FL

Los Angeles Public Press

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As a growing digital publisher, we know that we are not reinventing the wheel when it comes to best practices in online news publishing and are eager to learn from all those who have already been working at it for years longer than we have. We look forward to participating in LION’s Sustainability Audit because it’s an opportunity to level set our own understanding of online news publishing and organizational development alongside the expertise honed by countless other thoughtful digital publishers.

Mission: Everyone in L.A. County deserves access to reliable news about our home. We deserve the knowledge and tools to hold powerful people accountable. We deserve a full picture of life in Los Angeles. LA Public Press is an independent, non-profit newsroom advocating for a better Los Angeles. We do journalism that interrogates systems of power while supporting those trying to build more equitable and resilient communities.

Based in: Los Angeles, CA


Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As MuckRock approaches our 15th birthday, we know we need to diversify our revenue to ensure a stable foundation for our next 15 years.

Mission: MuckRock Foundation is a nonprofit, collaborative public resource that brings together journalists, researchers, activists and regular citizens to request, analyze and share government documents, making politics more transparent and democracies more informed.  MuckRock provides a repository of hundreds of thousands of pages of original government materials, information on how to file requests and tools to make the requesting process easier. MuckRock is committed to supporting engaging, transparent journalism through projects like DocumentCloud, which thousands of newsrooms use to analyze, annotate and publish primary source documents, and oTranscribe, a browser utility that makes transcribing audio files easier. Our Accounts service allows external projects to make their tools available to newsrooms and journalists.

Based in: Somerville, MA


Interest in the Sustainability Audit: MyRye.com is looking to continually improve by understanding community news best practices and benchmarks in order to best serve our community.

Mission: MyRye.com’s mission is to be the trusted source for community news in Rye, New York, connecting local residents, businesses, and organizations. We are dedicated to delivering timely, relevant, and accurate information that empowers and engages our community.   Through transparent reporting and inclusive storytelling, we aim to foster civic involvement, celebrate local achievements, and facilitate meaningful dialogue. We are driven by our commitment to integrity, innovation, and community collaboration.

Based in: Rye, NY


Interest in the Sustainability Audit: For NepYork, Showcase of Nepalis in the USA, the LION Publishers Sustainability Audit is a chance to identify areas for growth and secure funding to amplify the voices of Nepalis in America. A deeper understanding of best practices will ensure NepYork’s long-term sustainability as a vital platform for our community.

Mission: Showcase of Nepalis in the USA

Based in: Corona, NY

NH Center for Public Interest Journalism / InDepthNH.org

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: InDepthNH.org does great work but we are never more than a couple of months ahead of payroll. I spend too much time looking for money when we need to hire a business person to do that.

Mission: InDepthNH.org gives voice to marginalized people, places and ideas.

Based in: New Hampshire

Peekskill Herald

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: A colleague has participated and said how valuable it was. I credit LION and its workshops as the reason the Herald was able to be formed in 2021.

Mission: To give power to the powerless and be a voice for the voiceless. That purpose grounds the stories we publish and guides the way we value facts over opinions and people over profits. We strive to produce critical information that allows residents of Peekskill to engage with their community.

Based in: Peekskill, NY

Philadelphia Hall Monitor

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are looking to build a sustainable news service that serves working class and poor Philadelphians. As our intended audience cannot afford to contribute, we need to find other paths to sustainability.

Mission: The Philadelphia Hall Monitor is dedicated to bringing vital news and information to Philadelphia’s residents. We do this by covering local government and consumer affairs stories that show our audience how to utilize the services available to them.

Based in: Philadelphia, PA

Project Optimist

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I want Project Optimist to grow and thrive to serve Minnesota in a changing world and changing media landscape. Instability in the field of journalism has opened up space for startups like Project Optimist to fill gaps and experiment with new models, but I want to make sure we can weather whatever comes our way.

Mission: Project Optimist strives to engage residents of greater Minnesota to help them collaborate across common divides, tackle seemingly intractable problems and grow more optimistic about the future of their communities, region, and world. Project Optimist does this by tapping Minnesota’s creative and independent talent to produce solution-focused stories and local art to inform and inspire. We provide training and spur conversations in support of media literacy, community problem-solving, community journalism, and democracy.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Based in: St. Michael, MN

QCity Metro

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: I want to know that QCity Metro is on a path toward sustainability. It takes money to produce good journalism.

Mission: QCity Metro is committed to providing news and information relevant to Black communities in Charlotte, NC.

Based in: Charlotte, NC

Reno News & Review

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The RN&R is at a crossroads, of sorts. We existed as a weekly, primarily-print pub until the pandemic, when the former owners more or less shut it down, before bringing it back in a limited fashion online. The publication was on the verge of shutting down entirely when our new owners took us over in January 2022; in the months since, we’ve made huge strides coming back both editorially (including a monthly print edition) and revenue-wise — but the owner can’t keep up on the current pace, and we’re looking at transitioning to nonprofit status.

Mission: Since 1993, the Reno News & Review has been the source of independent news, arts coverage, commentary and culture for Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Minden, Gardnerville and the Lake Tahoe area. We believe in true, honest journalism: We want to afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted. We want to be a mirror for the entire greater Reno-Sparks area. We want to inform, enlighten and entertain. We will never let advertisers determine what we cover, and how we cover things. In other words, we will always tell it how we see it. If we lose an advertiser due to an unflattering story, a negative review or something else, so be it.

Based in: Reno, NV

Ridge View Echo

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Ridge View Echo has been in operation for a little more than two years, mostly due to the support of grant money with some advertising revenue. While the newspaper has grown substantially in coverage and readership, the management team recognizes the need to become more financially independent to obtain long-term sustainability. The management team would like to be able to identify and implement the methods that will allow it to move forward and continue to grow.

Mission: The Ridge View Echo strives to provide news about local government, school board actions and important news that can affect the local community by providing honest, unbiased and non-partisan coverage. The Ridge View Echo aims to provide important information to community members to enable them to become better community citizens, cover community events and interesting people, provide resource guides, and support local businesses by publishing business spotlights.

Based in: Blairstown, NJ

Rough Draft Atlanta

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: It feels like we are doing really well overall, but I know there are ways we can increase our revenue and improve our efficiency which would allow us to do more and better journalism.

Based in: Atlanta, GA


Interest in the Sustainability Audit: In the next year, Shoresides would like to increase staff salaries to create a more sustainable and healthy organization. Additionally, we’d like to develop a robust business plan to guide our work, capitalizing on our current momentum and allowing us to grow. To solidify our position as a vital local news site serving BIPOC and rural coastal communities in North Carolina, we need to scale our operations.

Mission: Shoresides serves Black, BIPOC, youth, and rural communities in coastal North Carolina traditionally underserved by our media system. Our communities face a rapidly shifting economy, environment, and culture that requires vibrant community-led journalism. Shoresides’ mission is to be a local news platform providing a space for creative expression and civic engagement. We believe communities thrive when they are active participants in discussions that shape our future and region.

Based in: Wilmington, NC

Stet News, Palm Beach County

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As a new organization, we know we’ll benefit greatly from working with LION to develop strategies and practices that will help us build a successful business. The program will give us an actionable blueprint we’ll use to improve our capabilities to reach new audiences and grow our revenue.

Mission: To provide accurate, fair and valued journalism that holds public officials accountable, helps citizens engage in civic life and reflects the rich diversity of the Palm Beach County communities we serve.

Based in: Cloud Lake, FL

The Charlotte News

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have quite a lot of data — financial and operational, and from a recent survey — but need professional help to identify business opportunities and then to develop, fund and execute a plan. We have operated at a loss for the past two years and need to reach break-even within the next two years.

Mission: The mission of The Charlotte News is to engage and inform Charlotte and nearby communities by publishing rigorous, in-depth reporting on town affairs, providing a home for stories from our neighbors and friends, and reporting on how other towns have addressed challenges similar to our own.

Based in: Charlotte, VT

The Dial

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Dial is now a year old, and we’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. We’ve published more than 100 pieces of writing from over 50 countries, which have been recognized by readers, other publications, awards, and governments around the world. Participating in the Sustainability Audit will help us sort out how to not only build on these successes, but do so in a way that ensures longevity.

Mission: The Dial publishes frontline stories from around the world, elevating the voices of local journalists and writers who write the world as they see it — from wherever they might be.

Based in: New York, NY

The Haitian Times

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Haitian Times is ready to go to the next level by expanding audience and coverage. Without a solid roadmap for revenue generation, it will be difficult to achieve.

Mission: The Haitian Times, founded in 1999 to be a leading voice in the community’s evolution, aims to bridge the generational and geographical gaps among Haitians. We tell the real story of Haiti and Haitian-Americans and of the culture that binds us all across borders.

Based in: New York, NY

The Ingleside Light

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: The Ingleside Light wants to find a sustainable path for digital neighborhood news publications in San Francisco.

Mission: The Ingleside Light reports on small business, transportation, local politics, education and many other issues of civic concern.

Based in: San Francisco, CA

The Lakeville Journal | Millerton News

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We’re in the business of maintaining our legacy community newspapers while developing new products and platforms for future loyal readers and advertisers. We recently became a non-profit, so we also seek to create an expanding base of loyal donors. Our goal in participating in the LION Sustainability Audit is to fine-tune all of our operations to ensure that we sustain local news in our communities for generations to come.

Mission: Founded on our longstanding history of distinguished community service, our mission is to help readers make more informed and inspired decisions through comprehensive local coverage of towns, governments, and regional issues, and by reflecting the area’s varied culture and lifestyle.

Based in: Falls Village, CT

The Sierra Nevada Ally

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have been a small, online, no-paywall, nonprofit publishing outlet for four years, focusing mostly on improving our content and growing a broad reader base in our region. We continue to refine our content strategy: civics, climate, community and collaboration. Now is the time to grow the business side of our operation to ensure long-term sustainability.

Mission: Our Mission: To build healthy communities informed by facts, with a focus on environmental, civics, and cultural reporting from underserved communities. Our Vision: To create the media alliance model of the future that rebuilds trust and understanding among people, communities and the news media, and democratizes factual information for all residents of the Sierra Nevada and beyond.

Based in: Reno, NV

The Smoky Mountain News

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Like many media companies, we are at a juncture where our print revenues are flat or barely increasing and our digital revenue is growing but not fast enough. I want to see how others are addressing this issue while digging deep into our own business and journalism practices to see if we can improve them.

Mission: We seek to publish factual stories about important issues facing Western North Carolina in hopes of making our region an even better place to call home.

Based in: Waynesville, NC

The following 10 organizations will work with Blue Engine analysts in this cycle:

ARL Now / Local News Now LLC

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Recruiting and retaining high quality staff. Growing revenue such that we can expand our operations.

Mission: Local News Now’s mission is to better connect our communities and improve the viability of local news. We will do that by serving the broadest possible swath of our communities with useful, interesting, and important local information, supported by helping local advertisers reach new customers while working to find sustainable and authentic ways to serve additional communities.

Based in: Arlington, VA

Block Club Chicago

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We have ambitious plans to grow our audience and our offerings, and to make substantial improvements to our readers’ experiences engaging with our content. We know that successful and instructive experimentation must include thoughtful evaluation. We’re excited to draw on the experience of LION and its members to help us make sure our next big moves are strategic, well-informed and sustainable.

Mission: Block Club Chicago is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to delivering reliable, nonpartisan and essential coverage of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.

Based in: Chicago, IL

Honolulu Civil Beat

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Civil Beat has had steady growth since our nonprofit transition in 2016, and we want to remain proactive as to ways we can further diversify our audience, impact and donor base. We have a dedicated team that embraces data-informed experimentation and are well positioned to implement the findings of the Sustainability Audit.

Mission: Honolulu Civil Beat is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt news organization dedicated to cultivating an informed body of citizens, all striving to make Hawaii a better place to live. We achieve this through investigative and watchdog journalism, in-depth enterprise reporting, analysis and commentary that gives readers a broad view on issues of importance to our community.

Based in: Honolulu, HI

Lookout Local

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: Blue Engine’s cross-company expertise is valuable. We have a valuable foundation to build on, and we are now actively working on both Second Wave optimization in Santa Cruz and planning a second city launch.

Mission: We look out for Santa Cruz County and you.

Based in: Santa Cruz, CA


Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are always looking at ways to be more sustainable. This includes in terms of revenue, audience, and staff capacity. I hope this Audit will illuminate room for improvement in these areas.

Mission: MinnPost produces independent journalism to serve as a trusted guide for Minnesotans exploring the critical issues, challenges and opportunities facing our state.

Based in: Minneapolis, MN

New York Amsterdam News

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We are interested in diversifying our revenue streams to adapt to the changing advertising landscape. We need a better understanding of what our strengths and weaknesses are and where and how we can improve.

Mission: For over a century the Amsterdam News has served New York’s, and America’s, African-American community and the diaspora.

Based in: New York, NY

Richland Source

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As we enter our second decade, we are working to ensure the long-term viability of local news for the communities we serve.

Mission: Our solutions-focused local journalism helps readers understand the whole story of their community by eliminating the news fatigue caused by just covering what’s wrong, and replacing it with a more holistic and nourishing local news experience which helps communities we cover reach their true potential.

Based in: Mansfield, OH

Spotlight PA

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: We transitioned to a standalone nonprofit 501(c)3 in August. Now, we’re focusing more time on hardening the organization (succession planning), planning for strategic growth, and further diversifying revenue.

Mission: The mission of Spotlight PA is to hold powerful private and public forces across Pennsylvania — especially governments, businesses and special interests — to account through urgent and compelling investigative journalism that drives change and strengthens democracy, Pennsylvania, and all who live there.

Based in: Philadelphia, PA

The Daily Memphian

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: To benchmark where we are 5+ years after our launch.

Based in: Memphis, TN

The Sacramento Observer

Interest in the Sustainability Audit: As a legacy publication, it is critically important that The Observer continues its transformation as a multimedia news organization. Assistance from LION would help us examine our existing infrastructure with an eye on our future work.

Mission: Our Mission: To positively impact the conditions and lives of Sacramento’s African American community through public service journalism and community service. We do this in the spirit of the Black Press, “pleading our own cause” unapologetically through excellence in reporting, accountability, photography and all forms of content and community engagement. 

Based in: Sacramento, CA

Audit Analysts

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 the 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.

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