LION Publishers welcomes Sarah Gustavus Lim as its membership director

Sarah most recently worked at the Solutions Journalism Network and previously launched the New Mexico Local News Fund.

February 7, 2024 by Sarah Gustavus Lim

Sarah's headshot

We’re pleased to introduce you to Sarah Gustavus Lim, who we recently hired as LION’s membership director. Sarah will be focused on designing and implementing LION’s membership strategy and overseeing the execution of programs that will effectively support LION members’ path to sustainability. Sarah shares more below about how her career has led her to this role at LION. –– Chris Krewson, Executive Director

There are many things that drew me to LION Publishers, but one is my affinity for the scrappy self-starters that can be found in the growing roster of LION members. 

Journalism wasn’t my dream career growing up. I actually had no idea it was an option when I was a kid in rural Texas and didn’t take a single journalism class in college. I submitted an editorial column to my college paper on a whim, and when I decided to go into public radio, I taught myself how to edit audio and said “yes” to every opportunity, even if I had to then Google how to do it. If you’ve ever launched or grown a business, I’m sure you can relate! 

In the early years of my career, my goal was to move to Washington, D.C., and work for NPR. But working as a reporter and producer at local stations in New Mexico changed how I see both journalism and the value of local news. 

Like so many other places, my peers and I watched national reporters parachute in to report on the most difficult things in our communities –– poverty, child abuse, and violence. They would talk to many of the same sources we used but somehow tell a story that wasn’t as nuanced or had completely unnecessary mentions of green chile to give a story a “sense of place.” It infuriated me, even though I didn’t grow up in New Mexico. When I moved to Albuquerque, I committed to listening to people and trying to reflect the complex history and culture of the state in my reporting. It’s probably not what I would have been taught in journalism school, but looking back, I know it was crucial for building trust with people in the community. 

As I started to see local news as equally important to national news, I wanted to support local journalists. That’s why in 2018, I started the New Mexico Local News Fund, a hub organization that brings together journalists, community leaders, and funders to support a broad range of efforts to increase access to local news across the state. Before joining LION, I also spent five years at the Solutions Journalism Network, coaching journalists across the country who are shifting how they are reporting on persistent problems by covering how people are responding. The solutions framework helped me center local information needs in my own reporting, and I loved seeing the insights that emerged when reporters covered potential solutions in different places. 

Every community deserves reporting that tells local, accurate stories. The future of our democracy depends on this. That’s why I’m so excited to be a part of LION and support the effort to increase resources and programs for members who are working to make their businesses more sustainable. By helping these independent news organizations strengthen their business operations with what we’ve learned in our years of supporting this field, we’ll help rebuild the information ecosystems of communities by supplying them with relevant, trusted news and information. 

Listening has played such an important role in my career, and I’m committed to hearing from LION members as I get up to speed in my new role. If you’d like to offer ideas or feedback about how to get the most out of your LION membership, please email me at [email protected].

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