7 ‘Big Ideas’ from independent news publishers you can learn in 35 minutes

LION’s “One Big Idea” Lightning Talks on Nov. 16 will have something for everyone to draw inspiration from.

November 3, 2021 by Cassandra Balfour

Image via Unsplash
Image via Unsplash

Based across the U.S. and Canada. Operating as for-profits and nonprofits. Launched in 2021 and having been a publisher for several years. LION’s “One Big Idea” Lightning Talks will have something for everyone to draw inspiration from when it comes to successfully running an independent news business. 

LION Publishers is thrilled to announce the seven LION member organizations that were selected to present on Tuesday, Nov. 16, ahead of our Local Journalism Awards: Borderless Magazine, Matter News, Long Beach Post, La Converse, Queerency, Madison Minutes and LkldNow. 

Not only will attendees hear five-minute ideas with actionable strategies shared from the selected presenters, but they’ll also get the chance to share their own “big idea” that’s helped them run an independent news business that adds value to their community.

Please RSVP here to join LION for the “One Big Idea” Lightning Talks and Local Journalism Awards on Tuesday, Nov. 16! Here’s a preview of the Lightning Talks: 

Borderless Magazine (Chicago, IL)

Presenters: Michelle Kanaar, cofounder and art director, and Nissa Rhee, executive director and cofounder

Borderless Magazine will present on its second comic book, “Reclaiming the Sacrifice Zone.” Borderless staff teamed up with Southeast Youth Alliance organizer and writer Maria Maynez and illustrator Mike Centeno to document the struggle of Latinx organizers against environmental racism on the Southeast Side of Chicago. After publishing the comic online, Borderless distributed hundreds of print copies in English and Spanish to residents, government representatives, and students at Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District. Along the way, they experimented with new ways of measuring and deepening engagement.

Matter News (Columbus, OH)

Presenter: Cassie Young, cofounder and managing director

The team at Grey Matter Media and Matter News will provide an overview of their internal team site and show you how to make your own (no web skills necessary!). Smarty Pants is a comprehensive, souped up, and user-friendly organizational handbook and directory, which is meant to empower employees, board members, and volunteers by equipping them with the information and tools they need to get their hands dirty. 

Long Beach Post (Long Beach, CA)

Presenter: Stephanie Rivera, community engagement editor

Rivera will present on the Long Beach Post’s community editorial board that brought together Long Beach community members with different life experiences and expertise to meet virtually every week. The community editorial board discusses issues they want to examine, publish monthly editorials or opinion pieces, and serve as a valuable resource for reporters. Rivera will share how the Long Beach Post created the community editorial board, along with lessons learned that other publishers can keep in mind as they set up their own. 

Queerency (Austin, TX)

Presenter: Travers Johnson, founder

Queerency’s Holiday Queer Gift Guide showcases hundreds of queer-owned businesses to shop for the holiday season and it is the largest lead magnet for new subscribers to Queerency’s weekly newsletter. In its second year, Queerency is experimenting with new ways to drive top of funnel awareness for the guide, including a targeted video campaign on Instagram and TikTok.

La Converse (Montreal, Canada)

Presenter: Lela Savic, founding editor 

Every Friday, the La Converse team gathers for “Bitching Fridays” — a moment to talk about how hard the week has been in terms of reporting, and to celebrate wins. While they often report on topics pertaining to trauma, La Converse recognizes it is important to take the time to discuss how these stories impact them and how to do a better job. Over the last year, Bitching Fridays has been a time for staff and freelancers to take time to heal, learn from one another, and note what’s not working. 

Madison Minutes (Madison, WI)

Presenter: Sam Hoisington, co-founder and writer 

Madison Minutes will demonstrate how they manage communications with readers and other local media outlets in town using a streamlined helpdesk system. Many organizations use CRMs for their advertising prospects, where they log communications and activities on the sales process. But Madison Minutes uses a separate CRM to help ensure they’re building healthy relationships through consistent communication with local partners and reliable follow-ups to reader emails and comments. 

LkldNow (Lakeland, FL)

Presenter: Trinity Laurino, community engagement director 

As a digital publication rooted in the traditions of print journalism, producing live events didn’t seem like the most natural fit for LkldNow, but they’ve found that live events have provided a vital point of connection to the community, increased brand awareness throughout their city, and helped position LkldNow as a trusted resource for local news. Their events strategy has included an “Ask Me Anything” for newcomers to town, a concert, candidate forums for city elections, and talks on understanding misinformation and the media.

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