Dive In! Watchdog reporting makes a splash with readers & revenue

LION shows how accountability journalism pays off at IRE in Orlando

LION will hold a day-long meeting on the local independent online news business at the Investigative Reporters & Editors conference in Orlando on June 15.

LION Publishers will hold a day-long program in Orlando June 15 on business model, revenue, journalism and technology issues facing local independent online news publishers.

It will feature presentations, panel discussions and workshops on the business model, revenue, journalism and technology challenges and opportunities associated with the grassroots resurgence of local journalism entrepreneurship that is happening as corporate legacy media declines across the country.

The program coincides with the annual Investigative Reporters & Editors annual conference, which runs June 14-17 at the Renaissance Orlando at Sea World.

The Institute for Nonprofit News will be holding its annual "INN Days," which is open to LION members, at the same location June 13 and 14.

Admission before June 8 is FREE for LION members, INN members, and registered attendees of the IRE conference, and is only $25 for non-members.

This event is sponsored in part by Broadstreet Ads.

The program will take place in the Labrid room on the second floor of the Renaissance Orlando at Sea World hotel. Participants are invited to join us after the event for drinks at the Mist Sushi bar in the Renaissance Orlando at Sea World lobby.

Reader Revenue

A theme of this year's LION gathering at IRE will be how investigative, enterprise and accountability journalism can help local publishers build financial support from readers. LION recently launched I-DIG (Impact-Designed Investigative Grants), a micro-grant program supporting local investigative news projects by its members. LION will be working with recipients to tie the results of accountability journalism to appeals to readers for subscriptions, memberships and/or donations.

Local Advertising

We'll share early lessons from RAMP (Revenue from Advertising Mentorship) -- LION's effort this year to provide intensive mentorship to 10 independent online news publishers in building sustainable financial support from local advertising. And we'll hear about some of the advantages -- yes, advantages -- that small local publishers have in digital advertising sales over the big tech platforms.


We'll hear an update from Facebook on how reach and engagement with local news is handled in the News Feed.

Seed Funding

What's holding back more would-be local news entrepreneurs from launching in commmunities whose journalism has been depleted or disappeared because of legacy newsroom cuts? We'll tackle issues such as seed funding, training, news deserts, diversity and inclusion.

LION Table Stakes

What are the basic elements essential to the success of a local independent online news organization? We'll talk about the things financially sustainable sites have in common, and how that should shape the business plans of would-be local news entrepreneurs.

Full Schedule

  • 9-9:30 a.m. - Welcome: Supporting local independent online news publishers and the state of LION. Presenters: Dylan Smith, Matt DeRienzo and Steve Beatty.
  • 9:30-10 a.m. - Early Lessons from Advertising Mentorship: What we're learning from RAMP, a pilot program offering 10 local publishers financial support and mentorship to build local advertising programs. Presenters: Flint Beat founder Jiquanda Johnson, NOLA Messenger founder Robert Morris, Steve Beatty
  • 10-11 a.m. - Investigative Reporting in Small Newsrooms: Advice and ideas about how even the smallest of news organizations can pursue investigative and accountability reporting. Presenter: IRE Senior Training Director Denise Malan
  • 11 a.m.-noon - Seed Funding and Information Inequality: What must happen to set the stage for 1,000 new local independent online news sites to spring up from the grassroots in our country's "news deserts?" How do we reach equity for people who cannot afford to "bootstrap" and don't have access to traditional funding methods? Presenters: All Digitocracy founder and Democracy Fund Senior Fellow Tracie Powell, WhereBy.Us co-founder Rebekah Monson, MLK50 founder Wendi C. Thomas
  • Noon-12:30 p.m. - Facebook and Local News: An update on Facebook's News Feed changes and the Facebook Journalism Project. Presenter: Dorrine Mendoza, Facebook News Partnerships
  • 12:30-2 p.m. - Lunch Break
  • 2-2:30 p.m. - The Indie Publisher's Advantage. Despite the headlines, small, independent, local publishers have a distinct advantage in advertising sales over the big tech platforms. How to take advantage. Presenter: Kenny Katzgrau, Broadstreet Ads
  • 2:30-3:30 p.m. - Reader Support for Accountability Reporting. How to fundraise off the impact of investigative and accountability reporting. Presenters: VT Digger founder Anne Galloway, Melanie Sill of Democracy Fund and Membership Puzzle, and Monika Bauerlein, CEO of Mother Jones.
  • 3:30-4:30 p.m. - Table Stakes for Local Independent Online News. The basic things every local independent online news organization needs to have or do to be successful and sustainable. Presenters: NowCastSA founder Charlotte-Anne Lucas, Potomac Local Publisher Uriah Kiser, San Angelo Live Publisher Joe Hyde

Questions? Contact Steve Beatty at stevebeatty@lionpublishers.com or Matt DeRienzo at mattderienzo@lionpublishers.com.

Register now!