LION Summit: Local independent online news publishers roaring back to Chicago

Register now — LION's conference in Chicago, Oct. 1-3, will feature dozens of informative sessions with concrete tips for success

April 1, 2015 by Dylan Smith


Register now — LION's conference in Chicago, Oct. 1-3, will feature dozens of informative sessions with concrete tips for success in the local news biz. It's not too late to sign up to be a part of LION's largest-ever gathering!

LION Publishers is pleased to invite all who care about the future of local journalism to a conference devoted to the journalistic excellence and economic well-being of local independent online news sites.

The 2015 conference of local indie online publishers will be the largest gathering that LION has convened. We already have more attendees signed up than for our previous annual summit, and we have almost two weeks of registration left. With 84 92 99 101 publishers and editors, academics, foundation representatives, industry experts and vendors already attending, you won't want to miss the vigorous exchange of ideas.

The annual LION Summit will return to Chicago on Oct. 1-3 at the downtown campus of Columbia College Chicago. It will feature an array of speakers, panel discussions and networking opportunities devoted to revenue ideas and best practices, community engagement and sustainability.

LION Publishers has nearly 130 members in 32 states and Washington, D.C., representing both for-profit and nonprofit business models — all independently owned and operated and devoted to local journalism.

The organization’s gathering in Chicago Oct. 1-3 will be opportunities for members to discuss common issues and problems, share success stories and encourage the founding of new local news sites. Each event will feature an informative slate of speakers, workshops and panels on topics relating to local publishing, covering real-world strategies for revenue, hands-on technology demonstrations, effective reporting tips, and experts speaking on business and legal issues.


  • Check the schedule page for detailed updates »

  • Thursday, Oct. 1, registration will open at 4 p.m., with an evening reception and networking event.
  • Friday, Oct. 2, sessions will run all day, roughly 9 a.m.-6 p.m., with an evening gathering.
  • Saturday, Oct. 3, sessions will again run all day, roughly 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Download the conference Guidebook app to keep up to date and create your own personal session schedule.

Previous LION gatherings have been an excellent source of information and networking for journalists who have recently launched their own local news sites or are considering it. With a wide diversity of membership, and some publishers who have been in operation for over a decade, LION brings together the best business and reporting minds in local online news.

In addition to valuable member panels offering practical advice and blueprints for revenue and journalism ideas that have worked elsewhere, LION has lined up an impressive roster of speakers. They will include Michele McLellan, whose "Michele's List" has been a pioneering inventory of independent local news and who recently authored a major Tow-Knight Center study on best practices in online local advertising sales; Jan Schaffer of J-Lab, who will speak about legal issues facing online news sites; Jake Batsell, journalism professor at Southern Methodist University and a Knight fellow at the Texas Tribune who recently wrote a book about community engagement at news organizations; and David Boraks, who will offer lessons learned after deciding recently to close down his pioneering Davidson News site in North Carolina.

Other topics will include dozens of new advertising and alternative revenue ideas, native advertising, database reporting and visualization made easy, reaching minority communities, solutions journalism, mobile solutions and preserving digital archives.


Sorry, the discount on our room block has expired, but you can check with the Best Western or other nearby hotels listed on our Map page. LION Publishers has arranged a block of rooms for Oct. 1, 2 and 3 at the Best Western Grant Park Hotel in Chicago, near the site of the summit, at a special discounted rate of $169 for single rooms and $179 for double/double rooms. Call the hotel at (800) 472-6875 or (312) 922-2900 and mention "LION" to reserve a room. Our group rate will be honored up to three days before and after the conference, based on availability. The deadline for obtaining the special LION rate is Sept. 1, but the block of rooms could be filled up by then, so act soon.

Need a roommate? Use our list to help find someone to split hotel costs.

Travel stipends

Sorry, the Aug. 24 application deadline for travel support has passed. The Board of Directors of LION Publishers is pleased to offer a limited number of stipends to help fund travel and hotel arrangements for the 2015 LION Summit, Oct. 1-3 in Chicago. 

We'll help defray travel and hotel costs to ensure that even more publishers are able to attend. Stipends are only available to Full Publisher Members and Provisional Publisher Members of LION whose dues are current through Oct. 1. The deadline to apply was Monday, Aug. 24.


The 2015 LION Summit is sponsored in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Broadstreet Ads, the McCormick Foundation, Bizyhood, Guarantee Digital, the Poynter Institute and Columbia College Chicago. Questions about becoming a sponsor of the LION Summit or about programming or registration can be directed to interim executive director Matt DeRienzo at [email protected].

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