🌟 How LION supported independent news publishers in 2023

When there was hope in the local news space in 2023, it came from independent news publishers. 

The barrage of layoffs and closures did little to deter these publishers, as we witnessed and celebrated incredible levels of innovation, perseverance, and collaboration among newsrooms.

This past year was a time of tremendous growth, and our 2023 impact report details the steps we took to help news entrepreneurs build more sustainable businesses. It also outlines our big plans for the future.

To hit some of the highlights, in 2023, we:

  • Grew to more than 500 members across the U.S. and Canada 
  • Distributed $3.8 million in direct dollars to approximately one-third of our membership
  • Provided 496 hours of coaching and consulting 
  • Mapped a maturity model to help news businesses understand where they are on the path to sustainability

And in 2024, we plan to:

  • Complete nearly 250 Audits and follow-ups for LION members
  • Host our second annual Summit conference in Chicago
  • Expand our Community Ambassador program 
  • Pilot our case management approach to help us reach our goal of moving 100 Focus Members to the “Growing” stage of sustainability

Check out the full report here

Here’s to more learning, growth, and progress in 2024.

– Chris Krewson, LION’s executive director

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Meet our new membership 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.” 

We are delighted to welcome Sarah Gustavus Lim as our new 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. In her own words, she shares how her career led her to this role at LION.

What we’ve learned about Canada’s independent news ecosystem

Last year, we completed our research into Canada’s independent news ecosystem, adding 270 Canadian independent news publications to our Project Oasis database. And now, we’re sharing what we’ve learned about that ecosystem, including the six biggest challenges facing independent news publishers –– and how LION could help.

9 resources for independent publishers

1. Get the facts on firearms violence. Join the National Press Club Journalism Institute for a virtual conversation among experts and journalists on where to find the best data and research on firearms and gun deaths. (Feb. 9)

2. Celebrate NJ local news. The Center for Cooperative Media is accepting submissions and nominations for the 2024 Excellence in NJ Local News Awards, which celebrate the exceptional work of local newsrooms in New Jersey. (Apply by Feb. 16)

3. Receive support for mental health reporting. The Carter Center is accepting applications for the 2024-25 Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, which provide stipends and resources to help journalists produce compelling solutions-based stories. (Apply by April 12)

4. Find free local tax help. The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs offer free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals.

5. Dive into grant writing. This step-by-step workbook from the Lenfest Institute and PENN Creative Strategy covers the ins and outs of successful grant writing.

6. Republish climate content. Grist makes the majority of its content available to republish, and editors can sign up for a weekly email to learn about available stories and images, as well as upcoming publication topics.

7. Get free support for your startup. If you’re a professional journalist who was recently laid off and you’re thinking about starting your own media business, Ghost.org is offering free Ghost(Pro) accounts and support for one year. 

8. Jumpstart your corporate giving. Johanna Derlega, former chief revenue officer of The 19th, has developed a workbook that empowers news fundraisers to utilize design thinking to create products that businesses will want to support. 

9. Share why you stayed in (or left) local news. The Center for Innovation & Sustainability in Local Media is seeking responses to its anonymous survey as part of a research study to identify what makes journalists stay in (or leave) local news.

What we’re reading

Empathy equilibrium. Managers, explore these three tips for leading empathically without burning out. (Harvard Business Review)

Doorstep delivery. How The City, a digitally dominant newsroom, created and tested a three-pronged strategy to reach readers who aren’t getting their news online. (Nieman Lab)

Scaling or serving? Why embracing the scale promised by AI technology is more likely to lead to less trust and engagement, whereas an anti-scale approach “recenters the practice on helping people find information and solve problems.” (Tyler Fisher)

Giving season. What BlueLena learned after working with 29 local news organizations on end-of-year giving campaigns, including communication timing and messaging that converts readers to donors. (BlueLena)

Top-down trouble. Why The Messenger, which spent $50 million in eight months before it shuttered, was a doomed idea from the start. (Nieman Lab)

LIONs in the news

Hundreds of Burlington, MA, residents showed up to a Civic Expo hosted by Burlington Buzz. The goal? Help them understand exactly what their local government services do for them. Kudos to Burlington Buzz for planning and executing the first event of its kind in Burlington, which was attended by representatives from every town department, elected and appointed officials, subcommittee members, and nonprofit leaders.

Community members are already clamoring for another event in 2025. Find out why.

Something to Talk About
Join Linda McNamee and special guests for an hour of lively discussion. We’ll talk about something of interest to the greater Burlington community in every episode. Viewers are invited to…
Something to Talk About
Join Linda McNamee and special guests for an hour of lively discussion. We’ll talk about something of interest to the greater Burlington community in every episode. Viewers are invited to…

In other LION member news:

  • The Current is hiring a local government reporter
  • After being denied access to an unredacted settlement agreement, TAPInto Newark filed and won an appeal of an Open Public Record Act request, mandating that the contract be made fully public. 
  • In this article from Editor & Publisher, founder Wendi C. Thomas shares how and why she started MLK50
  • Epicenter-NYC’s S. Mitra Kalita shares how collaboration has become a critical component of her work in community media.
  • The Assembly NC and Enlace Latino NC will participate in the American Press Institute’s live events sprint program, which helps newsrooms produce live events for their communities.
  • Pasa la Voz’s Fernando Soto Gaulden spotlights the need for Spanish-language outlets to invest in growing their news operations and mentions sharing similar struggles with fellow LION member Planeta Venus.

How to reach us

When you reply to this email, we all receive it, and you’ll hear back from one of us. You can also email us directly at [email protected].

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