LION names two veteran journalists to lead Canada research and education efforts

Julie Sobowale will research the independent news ecosystem and Kelly-Anne Riess will update our resources for Canadian news publishers.

May 30, 2023 by Anika Anand


While LION currently has about two dozen members based in Canada, our focus has been primarily on helping grow and strengthen the independent news ecosystem in the United States. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Google News Initiative that our Executive Director Chris Krewson wrote about last month, we have the opportunity to dig deeper into helping our existing Canadian members while also exploring the potential to take what we’ve learned in the U.S. and help grow the country’s independent news ecosystem. We’re thrilled to be working with Julie Sobowale and Kelly-Anne Riess, a pair of deeply embedded and experienced Canadian journalists who raised their hands to help support this work.

Julie Sobowale is our Membership Researcher Consultant. She’ll map the independent news ecosystem in Canada, identify key Canadian funders and stakeholders and complete user research on the needs of independent news publishers in Canada –– and share what we learn. Our goal is that her deep listening and research analysis will help us assess whether LION should formally expand into Canada. 

Julie is a freelance journalist and lawyer who has spent her career working for independent and trade publications, including Progress Media as a business journalist and The Coast, the Halifax alternative weekly newspaper, as an arts and culture writer. Her journalism focuses on legal affairs, technology and diversity and inclusion. Her work has appeared in the Ottawa Business Journal, Alberta Views, the American Bar Association magazine, the Canadian Bar Association magazine and Canadian Lawyer. She is a board member for the Canadian Association of Journalists and Western Director for the Canadian Association for Black Journalists. Julie is  based in Regina, Saskatchewan. 

“We have a growing market in Canada for independent news organizations,” Julie said. “I’m excited to work with LION Publishers to explore opportunities in Canada and I’m looking forward to speaking with news entrepreneurs about how we can help them navigate Canada’s news ecosystem.”

Kelly-Anne Riess is our Membership Education Consultant. She’ll adapt our existing LION Membership Education resources, like how to create a staffing plan or our LION financial planning workbook, for a Canadian audience. 

Kelly-Anne is a journalist and documentary filmmaker and founder of The Flatlander, a regional online news site that features stories from The Canadian Prairies. She is experienced in program management and course development.  Kelly-Anne is based in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. 

“I am excited to help expand LION’s course content so it will include much-needed Canadian-specific business information,” Kelly-Anne said. “This additional content should save news entrepreneurs north of the border hours of their own time in having to figure this information out for themselves.”

These efforts are meant to complement existing initiatives and organizations already operating in Canada. Part of our work will be understanding what these organizations currently offer and how best we can add capacity to complement that work. If you’re a funder, organization or person interested in helping support Canada’s independent news ecosystem, we’d love to chat about what we can learn from you or how we might work together: reach out at [email protected].

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