LION Publishers hires Lawton to lead leap ahead for local news

LION Publishers is proud to announce the hiring of an experienced media professional, Beth Lawton, as the organization's Executive Director.

February 6, 2014 by Dylan Smith


LION Publishers is proud to announce the hiring of an experienced media professional, Beth Lawton, as the organization's Executive Director.

Lawton will tackle the nonprofit group's efforts to better connect the members of Local Independent Online News Publishers, and to foster the growth of indie news sites across the country.

"We're very pleased to have Beth Lawton join us. Her energy and experience will be a huge asset as LION grows our organizational capacity," said Dylan Smith, the Chairman of LION's Board of Directors.

Lawton, with experience in multimedia reporting and editing as well as media association leadership, said, "The advances in mobile journalism and consumer technology, with the increasing focus on local, relevant and useful online information, make this a great time for journalism entrepreneurs. I'm excited about expanding LION Publishers' reach and influence as more people jump into publishing community news."

"Even before coming on board, Beth was brimming with some very concrete ideas that will make us more efficient and effective," said Smith, who is the Editor and Publisher of "Hiring her is a great investment for LION Publishers."

Lawton brings a wide range of expertise to the post. She was the Digital Media Manager for the Newspaper Association of American, the founding Online Editor of (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), a reporter and editor for V.I. Source in the U.S. Virgin Islands, an online producer for the Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World and, and was recently a Regional Editor for in Northern Virginia.

Working with the all-volunteer Board of Directors and LION's membership, Lawton will create a resource for publishers establishing new news sites, organize a mentorship program for new publishers, and assist in organizing the LION Summit.

"Starting up your own venture takes courage and dedication," Lawton said. "I wanted to work with LION Publishers because I believe in the mission of providing local news entrepreneurs with the information and resources they need to succeed in serving their communities through journalism."

"My experience with Beth Lawton goes back to my days in newspapers when I served on the digital committee for NAA and she was on staff there," said Howard Owens, LION's Board Treasurer and the founder of "Her knowledge of digital publishing issues, interest in local news and hard work and dedication has always been apparent. I've thought all along Beth would be a perfect fit as LION's first Executive Director."

"LION continues to grow as the businesses of our individual members grow," said Owens. "Our ability and need to call on somebody of Beth's qualifications is a strong indication that we're all heading in the right direction."

"We're delighted to have a pro of Beth Lawton's caliber to help LION take its next leap forward," said Charlotte-Anne Lucas, who chairs LION's Membership Committee and sits on its Board.

"She first earned my respect as a digital media strategist for the NAA, and she continues to be a leader in the online news business," said Lucas, the Managing Director of NOWCast SA in San Antonio. "LION is very fortunate to be able to draw on her expertise in working with start-ups, developing best practices and boosting online engagement."

In addition to her duties for LION Publishers, Lawton is the founder of Canoe Media Services, a consulting firm in Alexandria, Va. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University (2003, MSJ in online media), and Washington University in St. Louis (2001, BA).

"We're thrilled to have Beth on board," said Scott Brodbeck, who sits on LION's Board and chairs the Member Benefits Committee.

"Her talents will allow LION to take its mission of supporting local indie news publishers to the next level," said Brodbeck, the founder of Local News Now LLC and publisher of and two other local news websites in the D.C. metro area. "This sends a strong message to media pundits everywhere: local online news innovation is happening and indie publishers are leading the way."

About Local Independent Online News Publishers

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.

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

The 120 members of LION include the publishers of both for- and nonprofit news sites across the United States, ranging from rural towns and urban neighborhoods to regional news sites.

LION offers members platforms for peer-to-peer networking, preferred rates from insurance brokers and other vendors, mentoring by leaders in the field, and online clinics on techniques for business and editorial success. LION is planning a repeat of its successful national conference focused on local online news innovation and excellence to be held at Chicago's Columbia College in October 2014.

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