Annual summit of local independent online news publishers Oct. 11-13 in Chicago

The country’s largest gathering of local independent online news publishers will return to Chicago this fall for three days of

July 17, 2018 by LION Publishers


The country’s largest gathering of local independent online news publishers will return to Chicago this fall for three days of discussion, advice, idea sharing and training on revenue, journalism, audience engagement and technology.

Discounted early-bird registration is available now for the annual LION Publishers Summit, Oct. 11-13 at Columbia College in Chicago.

LION is a national nonprofit with more than 200 members in 45 states and Washington, D.C., representing both for-profit and nonprofit business models — all independently owned and operated, and devoted to local journalism.

The 2018 LION Summit will feature an opening day boot camp for idea-stage local news entrepreneurs and fledgling local independent online news publishers, and then two full days packed with an array of speakers, panel discussions and networking opportunities devoted to revenue ideas and best practices, community engagement and sustainability.

Last year, more than 200 local publishers, industry experts, vendors and foundation representatives from more than 40 states attended our Chicago conference.

This year’s program will include deep dives into growing reader revenue and audience development and engagement, lessons from LION’s pilot program on building sustainable local advertising revenue, Google News Lab training, workshops on legal concerns including libel, copyright and insurance, and technology challenges.

In addition to an array of speakers, workshops and panel discussions, we promise plenty of good food and drink — a reception with a light dinner and drinks Thursday evening, continental breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday, as well as a reception with light food and drinks on Friday night. We'll also organize a few ventures out on the town for those who aren't familiar with Chicago.

The organization’s gathering in Chicago will be an opportunity for people who are in the business of local journalism or care about its future to discuss common issues and problems, share success stories and encourage the founding of new local news sites. Each event will feature an informative slate of speakers, workshops and panels on topics relating to local publishing, covering real-world strategies for revenue, hands-on technology demonstrations, effective reporting tips, and experts speaking on business and legal issues.

Previous LION gatherings have been an excellent source of information and networking for journalists who have recently launched their own local news sites or are considering it. With a wide diversity of membership, and some publishers who have been in operation for over a decade, LION brings together the best business and reporting minds in local online news.

Early-bird registration for the 2018 LION Summit is only $95 for members, $245 for non-members, and $35 for students.


The 2018 LION Summit is made possible by, and provides an opportunity to connect with, sponsors who have had trusted relationships with local publishers who are active with the organization.

Among them are Broadstreet Ads, which powers the local advertising of dozens of local independent online news publishers, and Web Publisher Pro, which has launched the web platforms and/or redesigned numerous of numerous LION members.

LION also receives generous support from the Knight Foundation and the Democracy Fund. Its fiscal sponsor is the Poynter Institute.


LION Publishers has arranged a block of rooms for Oct. 11-13 at the Best Western Grant Park Hotel in Chicago, just a block from the site of the summit, at a special discounted rate of $199 for single or double rooms. Register online here or call the hotel at (312) 922-2900 and mention "LION" to reserve a room. The deadline for obtaining that rate is Sept. 11, but the block of rooms could be filled up by then, so act soon. The group rate will be honored up to three days before and after the conference, for those who wish to spend some extra time in Chicago. Also, you can check out other nearby hotels listed on our Map page.

Questions about becoming a sponsor of the LION Summit can be directed to executive director Matt DeRienzo at [email protected].

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