How to become a LION member

Thanks for your interest in joining the Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. We are a professional journalism association for independent news publishers. While most of our 400+ members across the U.S. and Canada runs local news businesses, we also have members who serve larger regions and specific identity-based communities across geographies. Learn more about us and the programs we offer.

Submit your membership application using this form, or read more below about our types of membership and benefits we offer below.

If you have more questions not addressed here, please email [email protected].

What types of membership does LION offer?

LION Aspiring Entrepreneur

Who: This membership tier is for news entrepreneurs who want to launch a publication or have begun work on a publication that is in beta and/or has not built a substantial audience. Some of the questions you may be trying to answer are: Who is my audience? Where can I get startup funding? What is the best ownership structure for me? Learn more about our membership criteria.

Cost: $70/year for up to one year. After one year of this membership, you can apply to become a LION member organization.

LION Member Organization

Who: You are an independent news publication in the U.S. or Canada that is digitally native and/or digital-first. Some of the questions you may be trying to answer are: How do I grow my audience? How do I grow/diversify my revenue streams? When and how do I hire talent to help me grow my business? Learn more about our membership criteria.

Cost: $210–$550/year.

  • For a small newsroom (less than $500,000 in annual revenue), you’ll pay $210/year.
  • For a medium newsrooms (between $500,000 and $1,100,000 in annual revenue), you’ll pay $280/year.
  • For a large newsroom (more than $1,100,000 in annual revenue), you’ll pay $550/year.

If you run multiple publications that serve different audiences, you must apply for the membership tier based on the total number of employees across your network.

How do I apply to be a member?

Submit your application here. You will hear back from us within one week. We’ll either approve or deny your application, or ask you for more information.

What benefits are included in my membership?

All members are eligible for the following benefits:

  • Media Liability is an essential component of a publisher’s responsibility. LION has worked with an insurance industry consultant, and established a preferred relationship with US-licensed insurance broker InSource Insurance Group for LION members. Learn more here. Current members can log in here to stay in the loop on updates to the Media Liability program.
  • Access to the members-only channels within our News Entrepreneur Community Slack group
  • Eligibility to apply for the annual LION Local Journalism Awards (details here) or, for Aspiring Entrepreneurs, eligibility to apply for the Aspiring Entrepreneur of the Year Award (details here)
  • Free services through Cloudflare’s Project Galileo that provide increased security and performance of your website
  • Access to LION Lessons, monthly Zoom calls featuring LION members and other experts
  • Discounted rate for LION events
  • Members with fewer than 200,000 monthly unique visitors gain access to Local Media Consortium membership perks, including shared resources, webinars, and access to their discounted partnership arrangements with popular service providers.

Does LION offer dues forgiveness?

LION recognizes that there are publications that would benefit from membership, but may not be able to afford dues. During most of the pandemic, LION extended dues forgiveness for any organization that requested it for 2020. Moving forward, dues forgiveness will be available to small news outlets (with 2 or fewer full time employees) applying for full membership and your publication’s annual revenue is less than $4,200.

If your organization fits this criteria, please check the appropriate box on the LION membership application to request dues forgiveness.

If you don’t fit the above criteria, but would still feel we should consider you for dues forgiveness, let’s have a conversation! We recognize membership in LION Publishers provides real value which is why we charge dues. We also recognize how difficult the road to sustainability is and we want to ensure our network is an inclusive, vibrant and diverse community.

If you have questions, please email [email protected].