LION tackles 'Business of Independent Local Journalism' in Phoenix

LION Publishers will hold a day-long program in Phoenix June 23 on business model, revenue, journalism and technology issues facing

May 12, 2017 by LION Publishers


LION Publishers will hold a day-long program in Phoenix June 23 on business model, revenue, journalism and technology issues facing local independent online news publishers.

It will feature presentations, panel discussions and workshops on the business model, revenue, journalism and technology challenges and opportunities associated with the grassroots resurgence of local journalism entrepreneurship that is happening as corporate legacy media declines across the country.

The program coincides with the annual Investigative Reporters & Editors annual conference, which runs June 22-25 at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa outside Phoenix.

The Institute for Nonprofit News will be holding its annual "INN Days," which is open to LION members, at the same location June 21 and 22.

Admission before June 16 is FREE for LION members, INN members, and registered attendees of the IRE conference, and is only $25 for non-members. The program will include a complimentary boxed lunch and a happy hour reception at 5 p.m.

LION has a special $89 a night rate for attendees at the nearby Courtyard North Scottsdale hotel. Hotel accommodations are also available at the IRE conference hotel, the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, as well as several other nearby hotels, including the SpringHill Suites Scottsdale.

This LION mini-conference is sponsored in part by the Knight Foundation.


9 a.m. – Welcome

9:10 – 10:30 a.m.: Legal Defense Primer (Hosted with INN and Knight Foundation)

You’re a journalist chasing down the story, and you’ve hit a roadblock on a public records request. Do you need an attorney to navigate the appeals process? Probably not. You’ve got a prosecutor threatening to subpoena you to reveal a confidential source. Do you need an attorney to step in? Most definitely.

In this workshop, focused on independent journalists and nonprofit newsrooms, Reporters Committee Litigation Director Katie Townsend will review the types of issues and scenarios that should rise to the level of seeking assistance from a lawyer. She’ll also walk through a variety of resources that can help you navigate those issues that, while certainly complicated on their own, may not require an attorney to resolve.

Presenter: Katie Townsend, Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press Location:  Grand Sonoran I

10:45-noon – Facebook Journalism Project: Local News Initiative (Hosted with INN and Knight Foundation)

Earlier this year Facebook launched its Facebook Journalism Project, a multifaceted effort that in part is meant to improve its relationship with news organizations around the world. Facebook has been especially interested in working with local news outlets to better understand the unique challenges they face and collaborate on solutions. In this session, moderated by Stefanie Murray of the Center for Cooperative Media, you'll get an update from Facebook about the initiative and hear from several leaders of INN and LION-affiliated local news organizations who will discuss using the platform and their challenges. Time will be reserved near the end for Q&A.

You'll also hear about Facebook’s effort with the Knight Foundation to work with local journalism organizations, and learn about the role that INN, LION and the Detroit Journalism Collaborative will play in working with Facebook to open training opportunities and experimentation to smaller, independent news organizations.

Presenters: Stefanie Murray, Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University; Dorrine Mendoza, Facebook; Josh Mabry, Facebook Location: Grand Sonoran A (note that this session will be held in the Knight Foundation's conference room, a short distance up the hall from Grand Sonoran I, where LION's programming will take place the rest of the day.)

Noon – 12:45 p.m. – Lunch Break

Box lunches will be provided. Location: Grand Sonoran I

12:45-1:25 p.m. – Nonprofit vs. For-Profit: Does it depend on the founder or community?

The pros and cons of nonprofit vs. for-profit models for local news sites. Does a particular model work better for certain communities, or is it more about the personal goals of a site’s founders?

Panel: Leslie David, publisher, Benito Link; Mark Roberts, publisher, Empowering Colorado; Lance Knobel, publisher, Berkeleyside Location: Grand Sonoran I

1:30-2:10 p.m. – The State of Advertising & Sponsorships

Local independent online news sites that were built solely on a display advertising business model confront an increasingly difficult environment. From competition with Facebook, Google and programmatic, to the challenge of finding, managing and paying sales reps at a small news site, we’ll talk about current challenges and look at the promise of newer ad revenue formats, including native advertising, sponsored content and video.

Panel: Kenny Katzgrau, Broadstreet Ads; Kelly Gilfillan, publisher, Home Page Media; Lance Knobel, publisher, Berkeleyside Location: Grand Sonoran I

2:10-2:30 p.m. – Break

Brief coffee and email break.

2:30-2:55 p.m. – Intentional About Ethics

A primer on making the mission and values of your local news organization clear to readers who are visiting your site or encountering your content on social media, and how transparency about these things can help build and keep the trust of funders, readers, sources and advertisers.

Presenter: Charlotte-Anne Lucas, publisher, NowCastSA Location: Grand Sonoran I

3:00-3:25 p.m. – Collaboration that Pays

A look at how collaboration with national media organizations can be a source of revenue and audience growth for local news sites, and an overview of free stories and data sets from national organizations that can supplement coverage or be localized.

Panel: Steve Beatty, publisher, The Lens; Andy Hall, executive director, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism Location: Grand Sonoran I

3:30-3:55 p.m. – Photography Tune-Up

Photography can be an afterthought at small news organizations where people are wearing multiple hats. Incorporating these best practices into your workflow can elevate the visual impact of your site’s content and your social media presence, without having to add a ton of expensive equipment or time to your day.

Presenter: Paul Ingram, Location: Grand Sonoran I

4:00-4:25 p.m. – Seed Funding, Sustainability and Stronger Shoestrings

Whether running a nonprofit launched with foundation money for a launch, or a for-profit where the founder has a year’s worth of money in the bank to start, there’s a critical stage for local news startups and not all are able to “leave the nest.” We’ll talk about the earnest steps publishers should be taking before the seed money runs out. Keeping overhead low is one of the biggest pieces of advice veteran indie publishers would give to someone before they launch. But what is the minimum investment? Are there certain things (i.e., hosting, libel insurance?) that you MUST have, and shouldn’t scrimp on? What is the range of prices you can expect to pay for these things?

Panel: Dylan Smith, publisher, Tucson Sentinel; Steve Beatty, publisher, The Lens; Kelly Gilfillan, publisher, Home Page Media Location: Grand Sonoran I

4:30-5:15 p.m. – 1,000 Paper Cuts Can’t Kill Local News

What will happen to local journalism in the many communities affected by accelerating and secretive rounds of cuts at newspaper newsrooms across the U.S.?  The solution will come from individual communities supporting entrepreneurial local journalism.

Presenters: LION Publishers Executive Director Matt DeRienzo and LION Board Chairman and Publisher Dylan Smith Location: Grand Sonoran I

5:15-6:30 p.m. – Happy hour

Join us for beer, wine and light appetizers. Location: Grand Sonoran I

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