LION’s 2024 community ambassadors are launching peer learning groups. Here’s how you can sign up.

These six groups will facilitate community building between publishers with shared interests and experiences.

April 3, 2024 by Samantha Matsumoto

Group of Black news leaders talking
Our 2024 community ambassador program was inspired by our affinity groups at the 2023 Southeast News Sustainability Meetup. Mazin Sidahmed and Ja Keen Fox led the Black affinity group, which met in person at the event. Our six new peer groups will meet virtually. Photo by Eleazar Yisrael/Inspired Storytellers

If you want to meet like-minded members, build community, learn from your peers, and share your knowledge with others, we have an opportunity for you! 

LION is launching six peer-led groups to connect members with shared experiences so they can learn from each other as they work to build more sustainable news businesses. These groups are part of our 2024 community ambassador program, which is an evolution of the inaugural 2023 program that focused on identifying independent news publishers across the U.S. for inclusion in Project Oasis

Each group will be led by a LION community ambassador and will meet monthly to discuss challenges, solutions, and resources. We’ve answered some key questions below, including how to indicate interest in a group and when they plan to get started.

What are the six groups?

They are: 

  • Solopreneurs (news founders who started and run their news business independently, without full-time employees) 
  • Newsrooms serving diaspora communities
  • Newsrooms serving Spanish-speaking audiences
  • Black-led journalism in the Midwest
  • Florida newsrooms 
  • Membership managers

How and when will each group meet?

Groups will meet via Zoom for one hour monthly between May and October. Group participants will also be asked to join a private Slack group or WhatsApp channel to communicate between meetings.

How can I indicate interest in a group?

You can indicate interest in a group here. We ask that you only add your name to one group in order to focus your attention on that group and provide the best possible experience for all participants. The deadline to indicate interest is Friday, April 26, by 11 p.m. PT.

Are there any eligibility requirements?

You must be affiliated with a LION member organization to participate in a peer group. Additionally, please do not add your name to a group that you are not affiliated with (i.e., don’t sign up for the Solopreneurs group if you are not a solopreneur or for the Black-led journalism in the Midwest group if you are not a Black journalist in the Midwest).

How will you select group participants?

Groups have a maximum capacity of 30 members, and acceptance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Group members will be notified if they are accepted by Friday, May 3.

How were group leaders selected?

The six ambassadors in the 2024 cohort were selected from a highly competitive pool of applications from LION members. Ambassadors were assessed based on the strength of their proposal and facilitation experience. We hope these groups will serve as a foundation for more peer support groups in the future, and we hope to expand this program to more groups in 2025.

Solopreneurs

Leader: Nicci Kadilak, Founder/Editor-in-chief,
Burlington Buzz

Description: Solopreneurs face a high danger of burnout because every aspect of running their news business is their responsibility. In this group, solopreneurs will work together to share lessons on how to prioritize and make their news businesses more efficient, while also discussing where to go for ready-made resources so they are not constantly reinventing the wheel. 

In her own words: “My roots are in education, and the last several years have taught me how important it is to share experiences with people who truly understand and can help one another. Being a community ambassador gives me the perfect opportunity to use my experience in creating curriculum and community in the context of news leadership. I’m so excited to begin learning alongside the members of this group!”

Newsrooms serving diaspora communities

Leader: Camille Padilla Dalmau, Founder, 9 Millones

Description: The members of this group serve audiences in different locations but are connected through a shared identity. In 9 Millones’ case, the newsroom reports from Puerto Rico, but a large part of its audience is in the mainland U.S. Similarly, other diaspora-focused media may serve their local migrant community and have an audience in their home countries. The challenge these newsrooms face is that their audiences have different contexts and sometimes feel separated. But the opportunity is that these news publishers can become a “puente,” or a bridge, for those different experiences. This group includes, but is not limited to, Spanish-language publications. Our Spanish-language group will specifically focus on Spanish-language publications.

In her own words: “I jumped at the opportunity of being a community ambassador because there are not too many places where news leaders can share their experience with diaspora audiences. I hope to create a collaborative learning environment where we experiment and test out strategies to connect with the communities we serve.”

Newsrooms serving Spanish-speaking audiences

Leader: Claudia Yaujar-Amaro, Editor-in-chief, Planeta Venus

Description: This group will bring together publishers in newsrooms that serve Spanish-speaking audiences. Participants will address challenges, including the availability of technology and tools to serve Spanish-speaking audiences, outreach and engagement strategies, and working across language barriers.

In her own words: “As a facilitator for this transformative initiative, I aspire to foster a dynamic forum where publishers serving Spanish-speaking audiences can collaboratively navigate challenges, leveraging technology, outreach strategies, and cross-lingual communication to amplify their impact and empower their communities.”

Black-led journalism in the Midwest

Leader: Ja Keen Fox, Executive Director, The Dreamland Report

Description: Often, Black-led media outlets in the Midwest are overlooked for major funding opportunities because they are living in “non-priority areas.” This group will explore fundraising tactics that highlight the meaningful work happening in “flyover” territories and how to build innovative collaborations that inspire donors. They will also discuss how Change the Narrative journalism tactics can build community and audience loyalty.

In his own words: “Black journalists in the Midwest embody the values of resistance and resilience that make the stories of our communities so powerful. I want to lead a collaborative organizing effort that inspires national investment equal to the genius and talent residing in the communities that shaped me.”

Florida newsrooms

Leader: Megan Stokes, Editor-in-chief, Oviedo Community News

Description: This is a group for Florida publishers to talk about the unique challenges, solutions, and resources for working in the state, including audience and government attitudes toward news, trust work, funding, and staffing. Florida can be a challenging place to strengthen a news ecosystem because of its size and politics. Many new laws have been enacted that threaten transparency and make it more difficult for journalists to do their work, but finding ways to band together could give these newsrooms a stronger voice.

In her own words: “I want to be a community ambassador for LION because I’m passionate about strengthening the news ecosystem, and I think the best way to do that is by developing relationships with other publishers, especially those with which you share important attributes. I think Florida has a unique set of challenges and opportunities, and I hope that we, as a group, will explore those in a constructive, impactful way.”

Membership managers

Leader: Meghan Rutigliano, Outlier Media Contributor, Strategic Consultant, Detroit Documenter

Description: This group is for people in membership manager roles at LION member organizations. The group primarily focuses on developing, implementing, and maintaining a membership program that supports the newsroom’s sustainability while fostering a strong community of readers and supporters. Participants will work together to leverage collective experiences to innovate membership models, tackle industry-wide issues, and drive greater member satisfaction and loyalty across the network.

In her own words: “I was drawn to the LION community ambassador role because it felt like a really exciting way to contribute to collective learning and meet other key leaders across LION’s network. I also hope to sharpen my facilitation skills and foster a supportive and fun group environment for participants in my community group.”

We encourage anyone interested to apply to join these groups, and we look forward to seeing them come together. Questions about our community ambassador program? Contact LION’s community engagement manager, Samantha Matsumoto, at [email protected].

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