LION welcomes Chris Krewson as executive director

Local Independent Online News Publishers, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting local journalism entrepreneurs, on Wednesday named Chris Krewson its executive director.

Krewson most recently was vice president of strategy for Spirited Media, which until March was the parent company of three independent news sites: Billy Penn, The Incline and Denverite. He was the founding editor when Billy Penn launched in 2014.

Krewson’s appointment comes after a six-month national search by the 13-member LION board of directors.

Krewson will be an outstanding leader at a time when the membership organization is planning for significant growth, said LION Board of Directors Chair Kelly Gilfillan, publisher of several news sites in the Nashville area owned by FW Publishing.

“With his entrepreneurial background and deep dedication to the craft of journalism, Chris has the perfect mix of vision and skills to grow LION’s operation,” she said.  “We’re now better positioned to not only help our members build sustainable journalism across the country, but to help cultivate new newsrooms in areas where legacy media cutbacks have left communities without a reliable source of news.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in March announced a $1 million grant to LION to help the organization further develop its capacity and train its members on core issues for sustainable local publishing.

“With this generous grant, Chris will be expanding our staff to help members with business coaching, revenue development, peer learning, advertising, membership programs and more,” Gilfillan said. “This doesn’t just build strong newsrooms — it builds strong communities.”

The move also comes as LION is broadening its membership criteria and expanding the group’s outreach to include ethnic media, public media, niche publications and university-based local news initiatives.

“LION Publishers is a key part of the future of local news, something I’ve spent most of my career supporting,” said Krewson, 42. “The board’s decision to welcome a more representative and diverse group of publishers helped draw me to LION. All publishers will benefit from this wider variety of viewpoints and hard-won experience.

“I couldn’t be more excited to help the organization grow.”

LION was formed in 2012, and its volunteer board ran the operations until 2016, when it hired Matt DeRienzo as the organization’s first full-time executive director. He left LION in October to become vice president of news and digital content at Hearst Connecticut Media Group.

LION now has 250 members in 47 states. Members are both for-profit ventures and nonprofit newsrooms, and they must meet standards set by the organization. They range from one-person shops to statewide news operations.

Registration is now open for the organization’s signature annual conference, scheduled for Oct. 24-26 in Nashville. The event is designed for current and prospective members, as well as those interested in supporting local news.

“LION Publishers are some of the original local news pioneers, bootstrappers who fight hard to sustainably cover communities across America. It’s already a place entrepreneurs turn when they’re thinking of adding to their local news ecosystems,” Krewson said. “I’ve heard a lot of discussion in the philanthropic community about helping solve the local news crisis in America, and I’m excited to begin discussions on solutions, leveraging LION Publishers’ deep experience.”

Prior to his five years at Spirited Media, Krewson was the top digital editor at both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. He is also the former executive online editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and held a variety of digital roles at The Morning Call in Allentown, Pa. He started his career as a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.. He lives outside Philadelphia with his wife, children, dogs, cat and goldfish.

Krewson can be reached at chriskrewson@lionpublishers.com