How LION Publishers membership is changing in 2021

Dear LION Publishers members, Over the summer, we let you know about some upcoming changes to LION memberships. We’re excited about these

December 2, 2020 by LION Publishers

Membership changing

Dear LION Publishers members,

Over the summer, we let you know about some upcoming changes to LION memberships. We’re excited about these changes, which we believe will not only help you but also bolster the independent journalism ecosystem.

In January, we’re asking all of our current members to “re-apply” with the membership form that we’ve been using since this summer. Why?

  • To get everyone on one renewal schedule,
  • To collect better data about our members, and
  • To make sure everyone meets the new membership criteria.

By getting everyone on the same renewal schedule, you can better understand your membership status at any given time. This shift will also help free up staff time. so that we can focus more on member benefits instead of paperwork.

The new membership form asks more detailed questions, which will allow us to collect better data about you, who you serve and how your news businesses are doing. By collecting this information ourselves up front, we hope to reduce the number of surveys and information requests you are bombarded with haphazardly throughout the year. We also hope to better serve you through more tailored programs, services and opportunities that match your needs.

Lastly, we want to make sure that all of the nearly 350 LION members meet our current membership criteria. As LION publishers and the association as a whole matures, it’s important that we all have shared values and expectations for what makes a LION Publishers member. Most of you already meet these criteria, but we will work with each of you to ensure that you all do moving forward.

Basically, in an effort to better represent and serve you, we need more information, and one renewal schedule for everyone. This means we’ll bother you less often, and create more and better programs and opportunities for you based on what you’re telling us.

The new criteria focus on best practices for Local Independent Online News Publishers. More specifically, we’ve added clarity around ethical practices that differentiate our members, as well as the goal of financial sustainability for your news business. This spirit of entrepreneurship helps set LIONs apart.

We believe that making sure all of our members meet these standards elevates independent journalism as a whole. At a time when our industry is changing so quickly — with mass consolidation of ownership, hedge funds and fewer journalists — what LION members do is increasingly critical for our democracy. We have to step up our collective game, and we can do that together with help from each other. As always, we’re open to questions or feedback you have about any of this, but just in case, we’ve prepared a brief FAQ. You can reach me directly at chris(at)lionpublishers(dot)com.

Chris Krewson
Executive Director
LION Publishers


How do I reapply and what is the timeline?

On Monday, Jan. 4, membership renewals will open. Please fill out this form by Sunday, Jan. 31. Throughout January, we’ll review applications on an ongoing basis and communicate with you on the status of your application. After Jan. 31, current members who didn’t reapply will be given notice that their membership is lapsed and will no longer have access to LION member benefits.

What if my news organization no longer meets LION’s membership criteria but we want to stay in LION?

Here are the criteria we’re using to evaluate memberships. If you think you no longer meet this criteria, please email us at [email protected], and we can talk through specific next steps.

How is LION membership pricing changing?

We are adjusting dues based on the number of your publication’s full-time employees. We hope this change ensures more equity across our larger and smaller member organizations.

The vast majority of LION members won’t be affected by this change. If you run multiple publications that serve different audiences, you must apply for the membership tier based on the total number of employees across your network:

  • Small (Five or fewer full time employees): $150/year
  • Medium (Six-20 full time employees): $200/year
  • Large (21+ full time employees): $250/year

For the new Aspiring Entrepreneur tier, which applies primarily to folks who are not yet publishing, the yearly amount due is $50. Learn more and apply here.

What if our organization is facing financial difficulties and can’t afford to pay dues in January?

It’s been a difficult year, and the last thing we want to do is take away resources, opportunities and a community of support when you need it most. For most of 2020, LION implemented dues forgiveness for members who had renewal dates after May.

For members who have financial hardships, we have two new sponsors for dues in 2021. The Center for Cooperative Media is offering dues sponsorship for New Jersey-based outlets. Additionally, the American Press Institute is offering dues sponsorship for both Aspiring Entrepreneurs and full member organizations started in the last five years, with a preference for those who serve rural communities and/or are led by people of color. We ask that existing members who have financial difficulties please reach out and let us know here.

What if I already paid for multiple years of LION membership?

If you’ve already paid, we will make sure that your account is up to date and that you will not be charged for a year you have already paid for.

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