🌿 Why “scaling” isn’t always the answer


Independent news publishers in the Deep South are challenging the notion that “bigger is always better.” 

Nearly 30 publishers and independent journalists from across the Deep South gathered in Jackson, Mississippi on May 18, 2023 to redefine what it means to “scale” as community-centered news organizations that prioritize transformational impact over unsustainable growth. 

“The current idea is that scale means ‘the bigger you are, the more you cover, and the better you are,’” said Kimberly Griffin, Mississippi Free Press founding publisher and chief revenue officer, during LION Publishers’ Deep South News Sustainability Meetup. “The deep, complex reflection of your community is what I want to see when I think about scale.”

The Deep South News Sustainability Meetup was the first of two regional gatherings that LION is hosting this year to provide more intimate, local opportunities for independent newsroom leaders, funders and supporters from specific regions to connect with and learn from one another. Deep South Meetup attendees were based in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas. LION’s Southeast News Sustainability Meetup will be hosted in Durham, North Carolina on Oct. 3-4, along with the fifth-annual LION Local Journalism Awards Ceremony and Dinner.

“This was one of the best journalism meetings I’ve ever attended. I left with new contacts, new ideas, and renewed excitement for the work we all do,” said Hanna Raskin, founder of The Food Section. “The collaborative problem-solving was awesome.” 

Read more about the event here!

– Kelsey Wotzka, LION’s membership success associate, and Christian Monterrosa, LION’s former community manager

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Canadian publishers: We want to hear from you

LION currently has about two dozen members based in Canada and we’re exploring whether to formally scale up our work there to better serve the needs of those members and future members.

We are looking for feedback from Canadian independent news publishers on what direction LION should take in our research and support of Canadian newsrooms. Whether you’re a current LION member or haven’t joined yet, please take 10 minutes to fill out this survey.

Si vous parlez français et que vous vous sentez plus à l’aise pour répondre au sondage en français, veuillez utiliser cette version.

The purpose of this survey is two-fold: We want to include more independent Canadian news publishers in our Project Oasis database, and we want to learn more about your needs as an independent news publisher. Survey participants will be entered into a drawing for $50 gift cards. We’d love to hear from you!

– Anika Anand, LION’s deputy director


8 resources for independent publishers

(🔥Get ‘em while they’re hot — the deadline for the first five is today!)

1. Learn about pre-publication legal review at this workshop led by the Reporter’s Committee for a Free Press. (Today)

2. Get the scoop on Agenda Watch, a platform RJI is launching with Big Local News to make government agendas and data accessible to journalists. (Today) 

3. Apply for the LION Local Journalism Awards. LION members are eligible to submit entries in up to ten categories, and each winner will receive at least $1,000. (Deadline: Today)

4. Apply for the Eugene S. Pulliam First Amendment Award for protecting press freedom. (Deadline: Today)

5. Get familiar with GA4 through this four-week workshop offered by GNI. (Today) 

6. Learn more about (and how to apply for) the USC Center for Health Journalism Fellowship.

7. Learn how to strategically edit by writing for SEO, social and newsletters through this Poynter training.

8. Listen to this bonus News Guest Episode featuring Dean Baquet and Evan Smith discussing the future of watchdog journalism at our 2022 Independent News Sustainability Summit.


What we’re reading

Spend money to make money. How big nonprofits fare better when they spend more on fundraising and operations. (The Conversation

Generation Unsubscribe. How young people find subscriptions draining and pay models unattractive. (RQ1)

Generation Resubscribe? How to maintain relationships with newsletter readers after they opt out. (99 Newsletter Project)

A decisive moment. How Catchlight is revitalizing local, independent photojournalism through its Catchlight Local fellowship. (Poynter)


LIONs in the news

There are many ways to measure the impact of your journalism, and New York Focus is going to need a few more rulers. Not only did they break a story about how the state of New York quietly implemented an order limiting incarcerated journalists from publishing their work, but the story prompted the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to rescind the directive the very next day. Two days later, they were the subject of a New York Times story lauding their mission and impact. All in a week’s work for an independent journalism organization.

How journalists in Hawaii are covering (and coping with) the Maui wildfires – Poynter
‘We’re going to be here for the long haul, so we have a huge task in front of us.’ Journalists in Hawaii spoke with Poynter about covering the Maui wildfires.
How journalists in Hawaii are covering (and coping with) the Maui wildfires – Poynter
‘We’re going to be here for the long haul, so we have a huge task in front of us.’ Journalists in Hawaii spoke with Poynter about covering the Maui wildfires.

In other LION member news…


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