LION Publishers launches its Entrepreneurial Skills Series program in partnership with RevLab

What’s most impressive about our LION members is how many have launched news businesses with little to no support and

July 1, 2020 by Kelsey Ryan

Skills Series announcement

What’s most impressive about our LION members is how many have launched news businesses with little to no support and no clear roadmap. But we often hear from members who are eager to learn the fundamentals of running a news business that they haven’t received any formal training in. Up until now, that resource didn’t exist. 


LION, in partnership with RevLab, is launching a three-month pilot program called the Entrepreneurial Skills Series. Each month, LION will offer a class focused on a specific skill set needed to run a financially sustainable local news business, and work with an instructor to design and facilitate a four-part weekly series for a group of LION members. 


The first Series launches in August and is titled, “Managing money for news entrepreneurs,” led by Harry Backlund, cofounder and director of operations and business strategy at City Bureau. Learning how to manage your news businesses’ finances and financial operations is a skill many entrepreneurs end up learning on the fly. Over the course of four weeks, Harry will cover how to:

  • Create and monitor a budget
  • Manage cash flow and assess your cash position
  • Model revenue and expenses to make business decisions
  • Limit your risk and stay in compliance with legal/governmental requirements


“Like a lot of LION Publishers members, I started a local news outlet with no background in business or finance. I know from experience how intimidating a budget can be, and also how powerful it can be in using your resources to reach your audience,” Harry said. “I’m looking forward to sharing some tools and advice, and bringing in experts who can help us develop better ways to manage money together.”


For this pilot, we’ll limit each series to 10 LION members. If you’re accepted into the series, we’d like to ensure your commitment to the program by requiring a $100 refundable deposit that will be returned once you’ve completed the series. Apply here to join the August series. The deadline to apply is Monday, July 20.


The second Series will focus on how to better understand who your audiences are so that you can grow the reach and impact of your business and will be taught by Rebekah Monson, chief operating officer of WhereBy.Us. Our third Series, sponsored by John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships, will focus on how to build and run a more inclusive news business that is representative of the community you want to reach, and we’ll announce that facilitator soon.


Our hope is that our members can use the skills learned in these Series to run more financially and journalistically sustainable businesses. 


Learn more about the program in the FAQ below:



  • What’s the cost of the program?


This pilot is completely free to members, and requires a $100 deposit that will be returned after completion of the program. If we continue the Series beyond the pilot, we will open the Series up to non-LION members for a fee.



  • Do I have to sign up for all the Series?


No. This is meant to be an a la carte offering, so you can choose whatever Series you’d like to sign up for. (And you can sign up for more than one!)



  • What’s the time commitment involved?


This Series is designed specifically with our members’ busy schedules in mind, and will only require a five to nine-hour commitment per month. Our goal is to offer more information and coaching than you’d receive in a one-off webinar but require less of a time commitment than a more intensive, longer-term cohort-based program.



  • What days and times will this be running?


Each week there will be one 60-minute session meeting one day, followed by a 45-minute optional open office hours another day. In total, there will be four session meetings and four optional office hours in the Series.


The session meetings will be a live call with the series facilitator who will provide a mix of lecture and hands-on activities about the topic of that day’s session. 


The open office hour session is for any participant to ask questions and get coaching from the facilitator live in front of the other class participants so everyone can learn from each other.


We will select days and times based on what works best for the participants who sign up for the course.



  • Can anyone from my organization participate?


Yes! Maybe you’re a founder who just got started or you already know a skill and don’t have the bandwidth to teach a colleague. Either way, any full-time employee of a LION member organization is welcome to participate in this program.



  • Do you have a limit to the number of members per Series?


For the pilot, we will limit each Series to 10 LION members. 



  • Can I suggest other Skills Series ideas?


We’d love to hear them! Email [email protected] to suggest any ideas you have.

Apply for the August series below.



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