Join us this October in Austin to talk about the future of independent news sustainability

The Independent News Sustainability Summit, sponsored by the Knight Foundation, will take place Oct. 27-29.

March 17, 2022 by Ben DeJarnette

Logos of LION Publishers, News Revenue Hub, and RevLab at The Texas Tribune

This post was updated on Tuesday, May 17.

The last two years of the pandemic have delivered some incredible teaching moments on what it will take for independent news businesses to be sustainable.

Here’s what we’re seeing so far: Audience-centered journalism is inextricably linked to revenue, founders must understand how to manage their business’s finances, and all the journalistic impact in the world doesn’t matter if founders and/or their staff are burned out.

Our 2022 Independent News Sustainability Summit, hosted by LION Publishers, News Revenue Hub and RevLab at The Texas Tribune, sponsored by the Knight Foundation and hosted in Austin, Texas, will bring together independent news publishers to discuss these lessons by: 

  • Sharing what we’ve learned from coaching news publishers
  • Bringing in other journalism and small business subject-area experts
  • Facilitating conversations between publishers so they can hear and learn from one another’s work.

We’ll host the event from October 27–29. Our goal is to help independent news publishers consider their businesses holistically across editorial, operations, audience and revenue. Whether you bring staff from these various teams or attend as a small newsroom leader who wears all the hats, you’ll be able to participate in a wide range of sessions on how to build and run a sustainable business. 

This gathering will be for independent news publishers who are primarily focused on digital publishing and local or single-subject news, industry experts from journalism-support organizations across the U.S. and globally, and stakeholders who want to financially support the future of the independent news industry.

The Summit will use LION’s framework of sustainability to design three tracks of programming: financial health, operational resilience and journalistic impact. Within each of these categories, we’ll focus on the very important topic of revenue generation, but also make room for crucial conversations on operations, product, impact measurement and other key topics founders need to master to run a sustainable news business. This conference will give publishers the tools, resources and best-of-industry advice on how to operationalize sustainability.

The conference will also feature the annual LION Awards ceremony and dinner, which recognizes excellence in local independent journalism, and other networking opportunities for attendees. 

COVID considerations

We acknowledge that we are still living through a pandemic, and every organization is making different decisions about their comfort level hosting in-person events. The Texas Tribune’s office policy, which we’ll use to inform our events policy, requires that every person show proof of vaccination and booster. We will assess whether masks will be mandated closer to the event, considering factors such as local case counts, the City of Austin’s policy and our own community’s comfort. We’ll also consider other safety protocols as we continue our planning efforts to ensure we’re taking all necessary precautions for attendees to feel safe and comfortable.

An acknowledgement about hosting in Austin

One of the main reasons we are excited to work with RevLab is because of The Texas Tribune’s extensive experience with hosting large-scale events ​​— we welcomed the opportunity to have them help us organize an event in their hometown of Austin. 

Since we made the decision to host in Austin, the Texas governor has proposed a policy discriminating against trans youth by restricting their access to essential healthcare. Most recently, that decision led to some people and companies (like social media company Clubhouse) announcing they wouldn’t attend South by Southwest, a conference based in Austin, because of the state’s discriminatory environment.

We want to be clear: LION, as an organization, and its staff stand against all discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. Regardless of where we host any LION event, we will always work to foster a safe, inclusive and welcoming space. It is very important to us that all of our members, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+, feel comfortable attending our event in Austin, and we are open to hearing from any of our members about how to ensure that’s possible.
If you have any feedback or questions about the Summit, please reach out to our executive director Chris Krewson at [email protected].

Learn more and register for the Summit.


LION Publishers has more than 400 members who are local or single-subject independent news publishers across the U.S. and Canada, and has run programs and training on starting a news business, hiring and training staff in revenue roles, shoring up a strong operational foundation and other topics related to working toward sustainability. 

News Revenue Hub is a nonprofit journalism support organization that provides tech infrastructure and consulting services to help newsrooms grow audience, develop products and manage membership programs. To date, we’ve helped independent news organizations raise more than $54 million in volunteer donations.

RevLab at The Texas Tribune is a training and innovation center housed within The Texas Tribune. Through open source sharing, RevLab strengthens the media ecosystem by teaching proven strategies to sustain, maintain and innovate in the business of news. More than 200 newsrooms have participated in a RevLab training.

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