LION’s values and how you can hold us accountable to them

We’ve revised our organizational values and want you to tell us whether we’re living up to them.

January 5, 2022 by Anika Anand

LION's values

This past year, we’ve thought a lot about the way organizations do and don’t live up to their publicly stated values. And we want to do better.

Thanks to the work of our board, LION has its first-ever strategic plan, which includes this goal: “Staff, board and members believe LION is delivering on its external values.” As a result, we’ve decided to revisit our existing values to ensure they reflect our current scope of work, the perspectives of everyone on our current team, and that they are applicable for all of our key stakeholders: LION staff, LION board members, and LION members. Today we’re sharing our new values and two key strategies for how we plan to live up to them.

First, to ensure our values are actionable, we asked our staff to come up with a few examples of “expected behaviors,” for each value, so we could jump-start conversations about how values play out in practice. (Thanks to Carolyn McGourty Supple from The Press Forward for this useful suggestion). We’ve included a few of these below, and we hope this helps you give you some ideas on how we think about what living up to our values looks like in practice. 

Second, we’ll be surveying our current team, board members and LION members over the next few weeks to collect baseline data on how well we’re living up to these values. After we review the collected data, we’ll discuss as a team what strategies we can take to improve.

When an organization as young as LION grows as quickly as we have in the past two years, it can be easy to feel pressured to make fast decisions without a clear North Star. We hope these values serve as guidelines, not rules, to help inform tough and complex decisions we’ll make as an organization. And like everything we do, we know we’ll continue to revise and update them as we learn more about the needs of our members and the independent news industry.

LION’s Values

These values guide the way LION’s board and staff should work for its membership; the way LION as an organization should work for its board and staff; and the way LION members should work for their communities. 

We believe in being:

Data-informed: We can’t make an impact without defining how to measure our impact. We strive for excellence in our work by gathering data, consistently articulating what success looks like, measuring our progress and making time to celebrate our learnings, regardless of whether we achieve our intended outcome. 

Equitable and inclusive: We stand against racist and discriminatory business and editorial practices that oppress historically marginalized communities. We believe the most impactful journalism effectively reflects a community’s diverse perspectives while prioritizing the stories of those who have been historically overlooked or marginalized. While legacy newsrooms often haven’t been welcoming or supportive to people from marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds, we believe it’s our job to ensure the independent news industry is creating space for these leaders and voices to thrive.

People-centered: Good design requires being responsive to peoples’ needs, which includes practicing empathy, holding ourselves and others accountable to shared standards, and always prioritizing people’s personal wellbeing over work. 

Systems thinkers: A rising tide lifts all boats, so we always consider how individual pieces of our work fit into a larger vision. We solve complex challenges by thinking about the systems in which they function, rather than discrete problems. We balance the need to scale our work with acknowledging that not all solutions are one-size-fits-all, and we support unique needs as we are able to.

Transparent: Open information and candid communication are at the heart of building trust. This includes acknowledging mistakes, learning out loud about what is and isn’t working, and sharing the thought process behind major decisions. 

Iterative: We believe there is always room for improvement. We commit to using the iterative “build-measure-learn” loop to design experiments, measure outcomes and gain new insights as we support sustainable models for local, independent news businesses. 

Collaborative: We seek to build strong relationships with colleagues and external stakeholders to learn and grow from their expertise, ensure we aren’t duplicating efforts, and share capacity and resources toward achieving a common goal.

Thanks to board members Jay Allred and Cierra Hinton for their feedback on our values.

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