🎁 How to encourage reader reflection (and giving)


With the end of 2023 and the holidays fast approaching, it’s an opportunity to think about helping your readers reflect on the year and how they might support your work. And if our fifth annual LION Awards reminded us of anything, it’s that our members accomplish so much more than just putting out a product. You contribute to your community’s narrative and inform your neighbors about important issues, all while running a business and tackling everything that comes with it. That deserves to be celebrated –– and supported.

So, how do you make the ask and encourage your readers to get into the giving spirit of the season? Whether you’re a for-profit or nonprofit news business, here are four ideas to get you started:

1. Participate in Giving Tuesday: Giving Tuesday is Nov. 28, and Classy, a giving platform, published this list of resources for creating a successful campaign. Need a little direction on what to say? Trusting News teamed up with News Revenue Hub to test whether using trust-building language can increase financial support. (Spoiler alert: It does). They provide three strategies to try when asking your audience for money. And if you haven’t dipped your toe into fundraising before, INN’s News Giving Roadmap Library contains guides, templates, and examples for establishing sustainable fundraising practices.

2. Publish an annual report: Tell your readers about your impact this year by writing an annual report. It may sound daunting, but it doesn’t need to be hefty –– just high-level enough to promote your most impactful work from 2023 and how readers’ support makes it possible. Try using these three steps to nail your narrative, and check out some annual report templates. You can also get inspired by these examples from LION members: Source Media Properties, The Appeal, Cal Matters, and Wisconsin Watch.

3. Write an editorial: Explain why your journalism is more essential now than ever. The Lansing Journal shared a video message from its managing editor on how reader contributions help them provide news no one else is providing.

4. Update your About page: It’s easy to write an About page when you launch and then forget about it. But remember that this is often the first place new readers will go to learn about you. So take some time at the end of the year to update it with recent coverage and the impact you’ve made, and even with reader testimonials, like the Arizona Agenda did. Then, link to this when you make your reader ask.

Plus, here are some additional ideas from our friends at Indiegraf.

It all starts with making the ask, and this holiday season, you may be surprised just how far your supporters’ generosity can take you.

– Hayley Milloy, LION’s marketing manager, and the LION team

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10 resources for independent publishers

1. Learn how Press Forward will support BIPOC media. Join Borealis’s Racial Equity in Journalism Fund for a Q&A webinar with Press Forward representatives, during which you’ll discover how the initiative will support BIPOC news publishers, journalists, and communities. (Nov. 17)

2. Submit a proposal for the Catalyst Grant Program. The program helps nonprofits address inequities in the criminal legal system. (Apply by Nov. 17)

3. Cover California’s untold health stories. Apply for USC Annenberg’s California Health Equity Impact Fund, a five-month grant program for journalists who want to produce a project about issues impacting California families’ health. (Apply by Nov. 19)

4. Land a leadership role as a Latina journalist. Apply for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists’ 2024 Latina Leadership Program, which teaches Latina journalists how to move up to the executive level. You must be an NAHJ member to apply. (Apply by Nov. 19)

5. Boost your D.C. beat. Apply for the National Press Foundation’s Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellowship, a networking and learning opportunity that teaches rising D.C. reporters how to cover policy and politics in Washington. (Apply by Dec. 4)

6. Take charge as a freelancer. Join the National Press Club Journalism Institute’s in-person workshop for journalists who want to learn how to manage freelancing as a business. (Dec. 8 in Washington, D.C.)

7. Shape your AI strategy. Attend Better Leaders Lab’s Deep Dive: Developing a Smart AI Business Strategy for Your Media Organization, a week-long online course for news leaders looking to create a comprehensive AI strategy. (Jan. 22-26, 2024)

8. Apply for the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Women in Journalism Workshop, an annual program focusing on challenges, accomplishments, and issues specific to women in the journalism industry. (Apr. 12-14, 2024)

9. Request complimentary access to NewsGuard’s browser extension. This tool provides reliability ratings for more than 35,000 news sources, and journalists can use it to evaluate source credibility, corroborate research findings, and more — email [email protected] to request a voucher.

10. Send better surveys. Access the Institute for Nonprofit News’ new set of free survey tools, which includes a template of nearly 100 sample questions your organization can use to build an annual reader survey.


What we’re reading

Your key to success. Why project management is crucial to running an efficient newsroom, plus tips on how to start thinking like a project manager. (Lauren Katz, Medium)

A new day at Knight. Maribel Perez Wadsworth, former president of Gannett Media and publisher of USA Today, will be the first woman to step into the role of president and CEO of the Knight Foundation. (Editor & Publisher)

Seeing double. How Press Forward plans to turn $500 million into $1 billion by looking local. (Nieman Lab)

A cold plunge. How Canadian independent news outlets have experienced extreme drops in engagement following the passage of Canada’s Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18. (Reuters Institute, featuring LION member IndigiNews)


LIONs in the news

We know our LION members make big waves, and LAist reporter Josie Huang’s $700,000 settlement agreement with Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has turned the tide on press rights in California. 

Following her violent and unlawful arrest while covering a protest in 2020, Huang sought justice –– not only for herself but to help ensure that other journalists wouldn’t endure what she went through. 

As it stands today, her settlement is the largest award to an individual whose rights were violated in connection with 2020 protest coverage and includes several training requirements for law enforcement. Those laws include California’s SB-98, legislation that protects journalists’ rights to cover demonstrations, whose passage was spurred in part by Huang’s ordeal.

Learn more about how Huang’s arrest led to police accountability.

LAist’s Josie Huang reaches $700,000 settlement with LA County
Attorneys from RCFP and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher helped the journalist reach a settlement related to her unlawful arrest while covering a protest in 2020.
LAist’s Josie Huang reaches $700,000 settlement with LA County
Attorneys from RCFP and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher helped the journalist reach a settlement related to her unlawful arrest while covering a protest in 2020.

In other LION member news:


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