LION Publishers announce recruiting success

The Local Independent Online News Publishers have recruited 75 inaugural members, the national educational nonprofit announced Thursday.

January 4, 2013 by Dylan Smith


The Local Independent Online News Publishers have recruited 75 inaugural members, the national educational nonprofit announced Thursday.

Less than 2 months after accepting applications for membership, the new association for local independent online news publishers has attracted more than 70 dues-paying members, with more applications pending.

"We're very proud to have a broad membership that represents the depth of success of local online news sites," said Dylan Smith, chairman of LION's Board of Directors.

"We easily surpassed our goal of 50 members by year's end," said Smith, the editor and publisher of (Tucson, Ariz.). "We look forward to more publishers showing pride in their work by joining LION in 2013. LION wants to represent all those who uphold our values of reporting local independent online news."

Most members have showed their commitment to LION by paying dues for three years in advance, Smith said.

"That shows how dedicated our publishers are to working together in building the future of local news," Smith said.

The group's organization and recruiting were underwritten by The Patterson Foundation, which provided funding for LION Publisher's incorporation and matched up to half of the dues of the first members.

"Support from The Patterson Foundation was invaluable in forming LION," Smith said. "We're very grateful for the assistance and guidance we've received."

In recognition of LION's success in recruiting, Patterson will continue to underwrite a portion of the dues of new members through the first months of 2013.

"Starting an organization from scratch is tough to do, but these publishers have shown in their own businesses that they have a gift for the kind of innovation and persistence such an effort takes," said Janet Coats, a consultant for the foundation's New Media Journalism Initiative. "The Patterson Foundation is pleased to help enable LION and its efforts to provide connection and support for local independent publishers."

Ranging from coast to coast, LION members encompass the gamut of business models, editorial approaches and community types; LION publishers, both for- and nonprofits, are covering neighborhoods in major metros, photographing rural towns, investigating regional data stories, and videoing community groups.

"We're especially glad to see that the early membership is so reflective of the diverse business models and content approaches we see in the field," Coats said. "There is great strength in that diversity and the spirit of experimentation it represents."

"I am very proud of helping start this organization and also of helping make sure its membership is representative of the wonderfully diverse landscape of local independent journalism," said LION Board member Charlotte-Anne Lucas, the managing director of (San Antonio, Tex.).

The publishers' network was established by a working group that first met at the 2011 Block by Block Community News Summit in Chicago. A year of organizational outreach and planning culminated with the public announcement of the group in September 2012, when LION began to sign up members.

Much of the credit for the formation of LION goes to Michele McLellan, a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow who founded the series of three annual Block by Block conferences.

"The recognition of a shared purpose that came from gathering local publishers together in Chicago led us to realize how vital it was for us all to work together," Smith said. "We're deeply in debt to Michele for bringing us together in the first place."

Building the future of local news


LION Publishers is the only nationwide group representing the publishers and editors of local independent online news websites, who are successfully creating the future of reporting: locally owned and operated news outlets that directly serve their communities.

The nonprofit group was organized by a group of publishers in 2012, after a year of planning and research into the needs of online news pioneers.

LION Publishers are online news leaders who are innovating in business, technology, communication and storytelling while honoring the rich heritage of local journalism.

"The news business was created by feisty individuals with vision and leadership, who cared about their communities and getting solid information to people as quickly as technology would allow. That spirit is alive in the digital news era," said Howard Owens, the publisher of (Batavia, N.Y.) and LION's treasurer.

"As a relatively new publisher, being part of a community of publishers has been invaluable to me," said the group's secretary, Krystal Knapp of (Princeton, N.J.). "I'm not sure I would still be in business without the help and support of my colleagues, who have been very generous with their advice on a wide range of topics from advertising to technology to the nuts and bolts of running a business."

The group's 11-member Board of Directors is composed entirely of publishers working in the field, representing a wide variety of business models and editorial approaches. Additionally, the organization's Advisory Council of news pioneers provides valuable expertise to LION's membership.

LION offers members platforms for peer-to-peer networking, mentoring by leaders in the field, online clinics on techniques for business and editorial success, and is planning a national conference focused on local online news innovation and excellence for fall 2013.

In cooperation with the Investigative News Network, LION offers members preferred rates on media liability and other business insurance policies.

"Our ethos is 'publishers helping publishers,'" Smith said. "Our membership includes publishers, editors and staffers with wide areas of expertise. Sharing that knowledge helps all of us build healthier businesses and do an even better job of telling the stories of our local communities."

"Whether it's tips on closing an advertising deal, advice on setting up a membership program, sharing online reporting techniques, help with troublesome coding problems or recommendations for website designers, the expertise that LION colleagues freely share every day is a huge help to me and so many of our members," said Natomas Buzz (Sacramento, Calif.) publisher Brandy Tuzon Boyd, a member of LION's Board of Directors.

"Face time once a year with other local publishers had re-energized me and the sessions at the annual conference have made me rethink how I do things," said Knapp, who leads LION's Conference Committee. "I'm so happy that we have formed this new organization to strengthen our network, provide resources to the local indie online community, and ensure that a conference continues to be offered for local publishers."

"As a journalist who is adding 'entrepreneur' to my resume, the collective brains and camaraderie in this organization are the keys to success," Lucas said.

While there are many differences between the sites they publish, members have banded together to show pride in their work, and work together to fufill LION Publishers' mission: "To foster the viability and excellence of locally focused independent online news organizations and cultivate their connections to their communities through education and action."

"Local news sites are making a difference in their communities. They are growing real businesses and they need help and they need a voice, and LION can be the impetus for expanding what is possible for local, truly independent community news," Owens said.

For more information on LION Publishers, see or contact [email protected].

LION members

Board of Directors

  • Dylan Smith |, chairman
  • Krystal Knapp | Princeton Planet, secretary
  • Howard Owens | The Batavian, treasurer
  • Ben Ilfeld | Sacramento Press
  • Brandy Tuzon Boyd | Natomas Buzz
  • Charlotte-Anne Lucas |
  • Jerry DeMarco | Cliffview Pilot
  • Jesus Sanchez | Eastsider LA
  • Ned Berke | Sheepshead Bites & Bensonhurst Bean
  • Scott Brodbeck |
  • Ikaika Hussey | The Hawaii Independent


  • Adrienne Fawcett | Gazebo News
  • Alan Gottlieb | Ed News Colorado
  • Amy Snider Senk | Corona Del Mar
  • Andrew Huff | Gapers Block
  • Andrew Long | Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Art Campbell | The Groton Line
  • Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7
  • Bill Macfadyen | Noozhawk
  • Bill Smith | Evanston Now
  • Brian Wheeler | Charlottesville Tomorrow
  • Darren Hillock | West of the I
  • David Boraks | Davidson News
  • Ed Litvak | The Lo Down
  • Elaine Wolff | Plaza de Armas
  • Elizabeth Larson | Lake County News
  • Glenn Burkins | Q City Metro
  • Jane Rickard | Welles Park Bulldog
  • Janice Rombeck | NeighborWebSJ
  • Jay Senter | PV Post
  • Jeremy Iggers | Twin Cities Daily Planet
  • Deborah Smith | Jersey Bites
  • Jimmy Boegle | Coachella Valley Indepedent
  • John T. Ward | Red Bank Green
  • Julie Morris | Benito Link
  • Kelly Gilfillan | Brentwood Homepage
  • Lance Knobel | Berkeleyside
  • Lila LaHood | SF Public Press
  • Liz George | Baristanet
  • Marisa Treviño | Latina Lista
  • Mary Morgan | Ann Arbor Chronicle
  • Matthew Nadler | Manomet Current
  • Pascale Fusshoeller | Yubanet
  • Rick O'Conor | Roosevelt Islander
  • Rose Hoban | North Carolina Health News
  • Ruffin Prevost | Yellowstone Gate
  • Sharon Toomer | Black and Brown News
  • Steve Thurston | Arlington Mercury
  • Susan Mernit | Oakland Local
  • Suzanne McBride | Austin Talks & Chicago Talks
  • Tamara Remedios | Newark Pulse
  • Teresa Wippel | My Edmonds News, MLTnews, Lynnwood Today
  • Timothy Rutt | Altadenablog
  • Todd Gill | Fayetteville Flyer
  • Uriah Kiser | Potomac Local
  • Virginia Citrano | My Verona NJ
  • Julia Reischel | Watershed Post
  • Denise Civiletti | Riverhead Local
  • Doug Hardy | CTNewsJunkie
  • Fern Shen | Baltimore Brew
  • Olwen Logan | Lyme Line
  • Jodi Rave | Buffalo's Fire
  • Polly Kreisman | The Loop NY
  • Paul Socolar | The Philadelphia Public School Notebook
  • Kelly Statton | WyoFile
  • Steve Thurston | Arlington Mercury
  • Dan Blom | PV Post
  • John Jensen | Lake County News
  • Maria Coxon-Smith |
  • Traven Rice | The Lo Down
  • Tracy Bermeo | My Verona NJ
  • Wendy Cohen | Berkeleyside
  • Jared Goyette | Sacramento Press
  • Amanda Evrard |
  • Peter Blasi | Riverhead Local

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