LION-GNI Sustainability Audits

The LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program offers a comprehensive process for LION members to identify and respond constructively to roadblocks to sustainability within their organizations. We completed 100 audits in 2022 and plan to do 100 more in 2023.  

The program includes a thorough assessment of a local, independent news business, with recommendations and resources to help enhance organizational sustainability. The audit process consists of: 

  • A questionnaire to define the current state of the organization in terms of operational, financial, and journalism metrics
  • An interview with an expert analyst to dive deeper into the questionnaire responses
  • An audit report compiled by the analyst and LION staff summarizing organizational strengths and recommendations for action to enhance organizational sustainability 

The program, open to all LION members, also offers up to $6,000 in funding to participants who implement a minimum of three action recommendations. You can apply to become a LION member here. If you are not a LION member, please complete your membership application at least two weeks prior to the upcoming audit cycle deadline to be considered for that cycle. Membership applications must be submitted by September 26 to be considered for the October-November Audit cycle.

Applications for our Sustainability Audits will reopen in late spring 2023. If you're a LION member and have questions about the LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program, please email Andrew Rockway at [email protected].

One last note: We’ve received many inquiries from funders, researchers and other journalism-support organizations about our Audit. If you’d like to learn more about our process, reach out to Lisa Heyamoto at [email protected]. We’re more than happy to share and hear your feedback.


We audited 55 organizations in 2021 as we refined our audit and process. Those early adopters rated the audit’s overall usefulness at a 4.3 out of 5, and reported that it’s been immensely helpful as a way to gain perspective and guidance on their news businesses. Since then, we’ve made even more improvements to prioritize the usefulness of the audit and beta tested it with a handful of publishers earlier this year. Here’s what some of those organizations have said:

Travers Johnson, Founder and CEO of Queerency, offers his perspective on the Sustainability Audit process.

“This was a phenomenal process. It's a wonderful way to gauge my progress and prepare for my future.”

Travers Johnson

"Some of the analysis is hard to swallow because it makes one confront short-comings or the true cost of lack of resources, but overall, it's like going to therapy or having an honest annual health check-up. It doesn't mean you have to take the doctor's advice but in your heart you know that if you want to live long or, in this case, grow sustainably and prosper, there are best practices. Asking for help is the hardest step, and I appreciate LION reaching out to me to make this happen."

Carol Robidoux
Manchester Ink Link

“This was a unique opportunity for us to get an objective look at our organizational sustainability, and benchmark us with our peers. What a gift!”

Kelsey Ryan
The Beacon

"We at Matter really appreciated the sustainability audit! The initial filling out of the audit was helpful. It wasn't too complicated for us, because we were able to compile a lot of the information pretty easily, plus it challenged us to think through and articulate goals. I really appreciate the interview component and the fact the auditor was personable and took care in understanding us and our strengths and opportunities, as well as offered up resources. It made us feel really good to see the positive reflections and it's helpful to have those opportunities for improvement."

Cassie Young
Matter News

“I found it to be very helpful and gave me great ideas to strengthen our community engagement. I look forward to exploring the ideas and advice I received.”

Shannon Shaw Duty
Osage News