LION Local Journalism Awards

Collage of photos from the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards ceremony

The LION Local Journalism Awards recognize excellence by local independent online news businesses in award categories focused on LION’s pillars of sustainability — journalistic impact, financial health and operational resilience.  

2023 LION Local Journalism Awards

Entries for the 2023 LION Local Journalism Awards will open in May. Only current LION members that have paid annual membership dues and completed the annual membership application are eligible to apply.

Become a LION member to be eligible for the 2023 LION Local Journalism Awardsand sign up for the LION newsletter to be notified when categories are announced and entries open.

2022 LION Local Journalism Awards

We celebrated the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards at the Independent News Sustainability Summit in Austin, Texas, where winners were announced in 12 award categories:

  1. LION Business of the Year (cash prize): Recognizes  general excellence in working to achieve sustainability for their news business through operational resilience, financial health and journalistic impact.
  2. New LION Business of the Year (cash prize): Recognizes a business — founded after January 1, 2021 — that exhibits, even in its very early stages, a clearly-defined commitment to working toward achieving sustainability through operational resilience, financial health and journalistic impact.
  3. Community Member of the Year (cash prize): Recognizes an individual who exemplifies LION’s core values. They routinely go above and beyond to help ensure their community of news entrepreneurs feels supported, acknowledged and celebrated. They are dedicated to building a sustainable news business, and helping their fellow LIONs do the same. LION staff will select a winner based on nominations from staff, board and the LION community.
  4. Collaboration of the Year: Recognizes general excellence among a partnership between a LION member and at least one other organization. The Collaboration of the Year awards either a short-term or long-term commitment between two or more organizations that positively impacted a LION member’s operational resilience, financial health or journalistic impact.
  5. General Excellence: Financial Health (cash prize): Recognizes a LION member that has excelled at developing a plan for earning money, managing a budget, and monitoring revenue and expenses to extend their financial runway with the tools and data needed to acquire more funding or to right-size operations.
  6. Revenue Campaign of the Year: Recognizes a LION member that developed a successful and creative strategy to grow or diversify their revenue, positively impacting their financial health.
  7. General Excellence: Operational Resilience (cash prize): Recognizes a LION member that has excelled at establishing processes, policies and a company culture designed to support staff and manage growth in order to prevent burnout among the very people whose talent and buy-in are critical to their success.
  8. Accountability Award: Recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that led to the accountability of those in positions of power and a demonstrable positive outcome for the affected community.
  9. Public Service Award: Recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that successfully connects people with the information and services they need to navigate their lives and help make their communities more inclusive and equitable.
  10. Outstanding Coverage Award: Recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that builds increased awareness or influences public conversation about a specific issue that reverberates throughout a community. The intent of this award is not to be prescriptive of a specific topic, community or area of coverage, but rather to allow LION members to demonstrate the impact of their journalism based on their community’s information needs.
  11. Community Engagement Award: Recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that demonstrates a systematized community listening strategy to consistently tell stories for, with and by the people that a LION member is working to serve. The Community Engagement Award celebrates a LION member’s longstanding commitment to partner with their community by actively listening to — and acting on — their feedback, questions, successes and challenges.
  12. Product of the Year: ​​Recognizes a LION member that developed a successful and creative short-term or long-term product (ex: email newsletter, event, podcast, etc.) to strengthen their journalistic impact, financial health and/or operational resilience.

To help level the playing field for publishers with different budgets and newsroom sizes, we named finalists and winners for up to four revenue tiers per category:

  • Micro: Less than $50,000 in annual revenue
  • Small: Between $50,000 and $500,000 in annual revenue
  • Medium: Between $500,000 and $1.1 million in annual revenue
  • Large: More than $1.1 million in annual revenue

Award winners and finalists were determined by independent judges based on specific criteria focused on how our members’ work is helping their news business achieve sustainability, and how their work reflects LION’s organizational values.

Learn more about the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards and meet the winners and finalists.

2021 LION Local Journalism Awards

The 2021 LION Local Journalism Awards saw a 40 percent increase in submissions — a testament to the growth of the LION community and the impactful work our members did throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2021, we celebrated the finalists with a virtual dinner ceremony, presented by the Google News Initiative.

Learn more about the winners and finalists.

2020 LION Local Journalism Awards

The second LION Local Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, were celebrated virtually in October 2020. The event's keynote panel, sponsored by the Google News Initiative, featured S. Mitra Kalita, SVP of News, Opinion and Programming at CNN Digital; Mazin Sidahmed, co-executive director of Documented; and Kate B. Maxwell, publisher and co-founder of The Mendocino Voice.

Learn more about the winners and finalists, and watch a recording of the virtual ceremony.

2019 LION Local Journalism Awards

We celebrated the inaugural LION Local Journalism Awards at the LION Summit in Nashville in October 2019.

Learn more about the winners and finalists.