👋 We’re getting back together

We have a boatload of LION programming and opportunities to announce this week, and we’ll start with the one that many of you have been asking about. 

LION’s 2023 event schedule

Yes, we’re getting together in person again this year. 🥳

In 2023, LION will host two regionally-focused events as we experiment with how to help our members form more local connections and support networks:

  • May 18: The Deep South News Sustainability Meetup in Jackson, Mississippi will focus on helping publishers based in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia — as well as Tennessee, Arkansas and North Florida — connect with and learn from one another. Register here for the one-day event, and submit this form by Friday, April 14, 2023 to apply for a travel scholarship. 

We still plan to host a larger-scale conference focused on independent news sustainability for publishers across the U.S. and Canada every other year, with our next one in 2024. 

Learn more about our upcoming in-person events and how to register

Fiscal sponsorship for publishers

One of the benefits of being a 501(c)(3) nonprofit news organization in the U.S. is the ability to accept tax-deductible donations from foundations and other philanthropic givers.

But for organizations that have chosen to be for-profit (like two-thirds of LION members), new nonprofit organizations waiting on their 501(c)(3) status, or nonprofit organizations other than 501(c)(3)s, a fiscal sponsor can receive those donations on their behalf. 

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce a new membership benefit: discounted fiscal sponsorship through Tiny News Collective, which provides tools, resources and expertise to help communities build sustainable news organizations.  

LION members can apply here for fiscal sponsorship through Tiny News Collective. If you are not yet a LION member, you can learn about LION’s membership criteria and apply to join here.

Recession-proofing your news business

The combination of inflation, bank failures and mixed economic data has many publishers worried about a recession in 2023 and what that could mean for the independent news industry.  

To help address those concerns, LION members are invited to a virtual meetup with Jay Allred, co-founder and president at Richland Source, Source Brand Solutions & Lede AI, to learn about his approach to recession-proofing in the past, and to discuss what news publishers can do to plan for the future.

Attendees will get a chance to ask questions and participate in a breakout session to talk with other publishers about how they are preparing for a possible recession.

Learn more and register for this meetup on Thursday, April 27.   

A special message from LION’s community manager 

At the start of June, I will be returning to my work in freelance photojournalism and will be based out of Atlanta, Georgia. This time, I’ll be making the conscious effort to incorporate LION’s three pillars of sustainability into my own business practice, and bridging the gap in coverage between national media outlets and local, independently owned publications.

As I prepare to depart from LION, I am excited for the rest of the team as they look to fill the new position of Community Engagement Manager!

This role will be vital for creating an engaged and active community of independent news entrepreneurs, and I encourage anyone who is passionate about community building to consider applying. LION Publishers is a wonderful organization, and I can’t wait to see how it continues to grow with the addition of this new team member!

Stay tuned for more about my departure, but for now, apply or tell a friend!

—Christian Monterrosa, LION community manager

10 ways to build a stronger news business

Now that we’re through all of LION’s breaking news, here are ten other resources and upcoming opportunities for independent publishers:

1. Prepare to apply for a small business loan at this one-hour workshop with a small business expert. (April 13)

2. Get advice for managing your organizational cash in light of recent events. This one-hour webinar will go over the top strategies and investment options to protect against bank failures. (April 14)

3. Enter a profile story in a national contest. Narratively is seeking surprising, awe-inspiring stories about one-of-a-kind people or groups for its 2023 Profile Prize. The submissions must be original, unpublished work. (Deadline: April 14) 

4. Learn how to partner with a local college or university at one of six training and organization sessions around the U.S. (April 14 – August 6)

5. Talk newsletter growth, partnerships and revenue with other publishers at this ONA Newsletter Professionals Meetup. (April 20)

6. Find funders for your reporting. The LMA Lab for Journalism Funding will help publishers learn how to develop reporting projects that can be funded through philanthropy. (Deadline: April 23)

7. Earn a fellowship for early-career digital journalists. ONA’s MJ Bear Fellowship identifies and supports digital journalists under 30 whose work represents the best of digital news. (Deadline: April 27)

8. Build trust (and grow your audience) by understanding mistrust. This community interview guide from Trusting news will lead you through having conversations with people with low trust in news. 

9. Rank higher in Google search results. The YESEO app is a free Slack plug-in designed by a Reynolds Journalism Institute fellow to help newsrooms apply SEO best practices.

10. Get support implementing Google Analytics 4. The Google News Initiative is offering monthly webinars and individual office hours to help publishers migrate to GA4. 

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What we’re reading

Local wins. What the most successful local news businesses have in common – and how they’re leaving legacy newspapers behind. (Simon Owens’s Media Newsletter)

False promise. What happened when Australia allowed publishers to bargain for payments from the platforms, and why LION’s executive director thinks there’s a much better way. (American Affairs)

Funding facts. How local philanthropy helped NewsMatch raise more than $10 million in matching funds in 2023. (Nieman Lab)

Newsletter lessons. How email mini-courses can deliver engaging content and help grow your audience. (Indie Publisher

News desert. How Facebook’s algorithm is causing less and less news content to appear on the platform. (Nieman Lab)

LIONs in the news

Independent publishers are the future of news – and it’s not just us saying so! 

LION members Grice Connect, The Kansas City Defender, Open Vallejo, Planet Detroit, and Santa Cruz Local are all finalists in the Next Challenge for Media & Journalism’s Future of News Division, and Queerency is a finalist in the Top Creator Division

All Division Finalists will now submit a short video and pitch deck for the opportunity to win one of eight cash prizes. 

Congratulations to all the finalists, and good luck to our LION members in the next round!

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…

  • The Atlanta Voice, Canopy Atlanta, and Decaturish are featured in an Atlanta Magazine story about the rising tide of independent local news. 

In memoriam

We’re saddened to share that former LION member Jerry Frear, Jr. passed away unexpectedly last weekend. 

His colleagues at NorthCentralPA.com described Jerry as “the driving force behind the growth and prosperity of this website.” He was 54 years old.

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