LION Members: Apply to get strategic coaching from local news consultants

Our LION members have created news organizations that aim to publish great local journalism and achieve financial sustainability. But many

April 8, 2020 by Anika Anand

LION Expert Network photo

Our LION members have created news organizations that aim to publish great local journalism and achieve financial sustainability. But many of our members have very small teams, small budgets and are not resourced nearly as well as their larger local news counterparts. And our members have told us that if they are interested in receiving outside expertise and consulting help, many of them don’t know where to start in finding the right people.

That’s why we’re piloting the LION Expert Network, a public database of consultants who can advise on product, operations and revenue challenges in local news. As part of this pilot project, which is generously funded by the Knight Foundation and the Google News Initiative, we’re covering the cost of a limited number of hours for a group of LION members who can use these consultants to help their publications produce great journalism and achieve financial sustainability or profitability. This is not a pairing program: LION members will choose the consultant(s) they want to work with.

We had initially planned a smaller group of LION members. But given the impact of coronavirus on our members’ businesses, we’ve widened that and will fund 40 members’ participation. If we receive more applications, we will use a lottery system to select the pilot group.

Learn more about the project below. Our applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through April 30. 

Who the LION Expert Network pilot is for

  • You must be a LION member who wants to workshop solutions for operations, revenue or product challenges.
  • You’ve already done some work to try and solve these big questions, and now you’d like to get some outside perspective and hands-on help.
  • You’re able to commit the time and resources to finding and working with the right consultant.

How it works

If you are selected to participate, you’ll receive three 90-minute sessions to “spend” on one or more consultants. You can decide which consultant you’d like to work with based on their profiles in our LION Expert Network database. Each consultant has provided a short bio, a link to learn more about them, topics/challenges they can coach on, and examples of work they’ve done with local news organizations.

After reading about a consultant, you can book a free 20-minute consulting session with that person to decide whether you’d like to spend one or all your sessions working with them. Also, you may spend your sessions with the same consultant or different consultants.

Here is how to use the LION Expert Network database to filter for coaches based on their expertise. You can click on their profile card to learn more about them.


  1. When does this program start? We’ve already accepted some LION members into this program and the consultants are offering their office hours between April 20 and June 30.
  2. Do I pay anything for this? For this pilot project, no. We are sensitive to the financial realities of our members, especially during this time. But if you book a 90-minute session with a consultant and can’t make the call, you must provide 24-hour notice, otherwise we will invoice you for $150, the cost of the session.
  3. Can I book more time with a consultant? Yes, if you’d like to book more time with a consultant beyond the initial hours that LION covers, you are welcome to work that out directly with the consultant. We are paying each consultant a rate of $150 an hour, but consultants will be allowed to set whatever rate they’d like for additional work.
  4. Can I talk to every consultant to decide who is the best fit? You can book a maximum of one 20-minute slot with a consultant on a first-come, first-served basis. You will not be able to book a 20-minute consulting session with every consultant, so please read about the consultant and their work before booking your 20-minute session.
  5. What if I have more questions? Email Anika at [email protected] and I’m happy to answer them!


The Application

You may also access the application here. Our applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through April 30. 

Also, if you are a local, independent, digitally native news publication in the U.S. and Canada, tell us about your business so we can include you in our soon-to-be-launched public database, as part of our Project Oasis initiative.

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