About LION Publishers


Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers is a professional journalism association for independent news publishers. While most of our 300+ membership across the U.S. and Canada runs local news businesses, we also have members who serve larger regions and specific identity-based communities across geographies.

Our Vision

A world where thriving, independent news organizations provide equitable access to inclusive and impactful news and information.

Our Mission

LION provides teaching, resources and community to independent news entrepreneurs as they build and develop sustainable businesses.

Our Signature Programs

We offer programs to serve aspiring news entrepreneurs and existing independent news publishers:

Our Google News Initiative Startups Program

Includes the GNI Startups Lab, a six-month program to help a cohort of publishers get on the path to sustainability; the GNI Startups Boot Camp, an eight-week program to help aspiring news entrepreneurs launch a news business; the GNI Startups Playbook, an in-depth guide to launching a news publication; and Project Oasis, ongoing research about the growing local independent journalism field.

The News Revenue Fellowship

Supported by the Facebook Journalism Project, a commitment of $1 million over two years to selected LION member organizations who are ready to design or bolster their revenue strategy.

The Tiny News Collective

In partnership with News Catalyst, provides the tools, resources and commonwealth of knowledge to help people build sustainable news organizations that reflect and serve their communities.

LION Membership

We also offer exclusive member benefits, including discounted media liability insurance, an annual awards program, discussion spaces for ongoing peer learning and support, and ongoing professional development training. We also hope to resume our in-person gatherings in 2022.

Our Values

We believe in…

  • Independent media: We believe that independent media is the most promising pathway for the long-term sustainability of the news ecosystem. Independent ownership and editorial control can ensure that more voices in a community are heard, that more original journalism is being produced, that a news publisher is free from undue influence by corporate, religious or partisan interests. We commit to growing the independently owned local media ecosystem.
  • Entrepreneurialism: We believe successful news entrepreneurs take calculated risks; can anticipate a changing landscape to grow their businesses and better serve their communities; and believe that experimentation is imperative to the survival of journalism. We commit to running LION Publishers with an entrepreneurial spirit.
  • Anti-racism: We acknowledge and condemn the ongoing legacy of racism in U.S. and Canadian-based newsrooms, and stand against business and editorial practices that oppress historically marginalized communities. We commit to anti-racism by routinely examining and bettering our own practices at LION as an association, and expect the same from our members.
  • Inclusive and equitable representation: We believe communities are better served when their news is reported by and for that community. To do this, news businesses should be led by and/or staffed by people inclusive of diverse perspectives, backgrounds and experiences, who are representative of their communities. We commit to inclusive and equitable staffing policies and expect our members to do so as well. We further commit to fostering a staff, board and membership that is inclusive and representative of the populations of the countries we serve.
  • Useful journalism: We believe successful independent news publishers create stories that serve their audiences; build a sense of place; and solve problems within their community, leading to a more informed and engaged society. We commit to creating and supporting a membership that produces useful journalism.
  • Peer-learning: We believe communities, including the LION membership, are strongest when we recognize we’re in this together. We acknowledge that everybody has a natural curiosity and that participating in a community requires active listening and learning. We commit to fostering a community within our membership that encourages participation and acknowledges each member as both student and teacher.

Our History

In 2010, a group of independent news publishers met at the first-ever Block by Block Community News Summit. The conference, sparked by research into local independent news sites led by Michele McLellan, was focused on publishers from across the U.S. answering questions like, “How do I best serve my community? How do I build a business that will sustain my mission as a news and information provider?” and learning from one another, according to The Patterson Foundation. A couple years later in 2012, LION Publishers was founded as a professional association for local independent news publishers. In 2019, LION received its 501(c)3 status and received a $1 million grant from the Knight Foundation that allowed it to hire three senior staff members for the first time. Since then we have nearly tripled our staff, launched signature programs and expanded our membership benefits.

Our Impact

Our Funders

LION is supported by our 300+ member organizations, as well as by our partners Democracy Fund, the Facebook Journalism Project, the Google News Initiative, and the Knight Foundation.

LION Staff Disclosures

The LION Publishers staff is committed to providing our members, our board of directors, and the public with transparent disclosures on the companies and businesses we’ve worked, or currently work with, in the course of our careers. Here are our staff disclosure statements.

Contact Us

Email [email protected] and someone from our team will be in touch.