👎 Shoot down The Messenger

It might be too soon to write an obituary for The Messenger, but a few days into the startup newsroom’s experiment in “polyperspectivity,” it’s at least fair to say… huh?

$50 million. That’s how much this hare-brained idea raised before it had published even a single celebrity breakup rumor (though as Joshua Benton smartly lays out, there’s reason to believe its fundraising haul wasn’t exactly about the journalistic vision). 

Still, just imagine what a community-centered independent news business could do with $50 million. Or $5 million. Or even $50,000. 

The heartening thing for us at LION is that our members increasingly don’t have to imagine what they’d do with an infusion of cash. They’ve planned for it, and they know exactly what they’ll do with the next dollar (or thousand dollars) that come in the door.

Ultimately, that’s the goal of our Sustainability Audits and Funding program – to help publishers identify the next steps that make sense for their business needs and goals, and to give them enough funding to start investing in their next stage of growth. 

As BenitoLink publisher Leslie David put it: “The combination of a professional audit and a modest grant helped to focus our minds on the actions needed. The audit recommendations will help immeasurably as we work on strategic planning and drive toward sustainability over time.”

The deadline to apply for our next round of Sustainability Audits is May 30 – and if you’re panicked about how quickly that’s approaching, well, don’t shoot the messenger. 

– Ben DeJarnette, newsletter writer, and the LION team

Save the date for Durham

LION is excited to host an intimate gathering of 35+ independent newsroom leaders and supporters from across the Deep South today in Jackson, Mississippi! 

Our Deep South News Sustainability Meetup is the first regional gathering that LION is hosting to bring together publishers from a specific region to connect with and learn from one another. In the coming weeks, we’ll share our takeaways from this event, including the successes and challenges of news entrepreneurship in the Deep South.

Don’t miss out on our next event: The Southeast News Sustainability Meetup and LION Awards Ceremony in Durham, North Carolina on October 3-4. 

The Southeast Meetup will be a larger, two-day event primarily for news leaders based in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Georgia, as well as Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky and other states extending into the Mid-Atlantic. Complete this form to be among the first invited to register when we open official event registration in the coming weeks!

Now here are nine other resources and opportunities for independent publishers:

1. Take a course for ‘Management May.’ LION members can take self-guided courses on HR Best Practices and Management Best Practices in the News Entrepreneur Academy

2. Get free registration for ONA23 by applying to be a volunteer. (Deadline: TODAY)

3. Set up a fact-checking system. LION member PublicSource will share how they’ve learned to make fact-checking a more efficient part of their work as a lean newsroom. (May 22)

4. Take a crash course on nonprofit accounting. This one-hour master class will help nonprofit leaders better understand the rules for recording gifts and grants. (May 24)

5. Share this opportunity with young reporters. The Allbritton Journalism Institute Reporting Fellowships will give aspiring journalists a two-year practical learning experience and $60,000 annual salary. (Deadline: May 31)

6. Prepare yourself for a news leadership role. Applications are now open for CUNY’s yearlong Executive Program in News Innovation and Leadership. (Deadline: June 2)

7. 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: June 22)

8. Build an audience engagement strategy for your newsletter. Join ONA for the third session in a series of online idea swaps for newsletter professionals. (July 18)

9. Stay compliant as a nonprofit by learning how to complete and file your annual Form 990

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What we’re reading

Audience growth. What publishers are learning about the best strategies for organically growing their audience. (Indiegraf)

Revenue models. Why the competition for advertising and reader revenue is so tough, and how some publishers are finding other ways to make money. (Simon Owens’s Media Newsletter)

Google’s new algorithm. How changes to the world’s biggest search engine could affect traffic for news publishers. (Nieman Lab

Know thyself. How to write a strong self-assessment as part of your performance review or leadership growth. (Harvard Business Review

Muddled message. How The Messenger is reviving a tired digital media playbook, and why that’s very unlikely to succeed. (The Rebooting)

LIONs in the news

Jay Allred has earned himself a lot of titles over the years — president of Source Media Properties, co-founder of LedeAI, and board chair of LION Publishers, just to name a few.

Now he has a new one: CEO. 

Congrats on the promotion, Jay, and thanks for your continued contributions to the LION community! 

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 Texas Tribune politics reporter James Barragán will study the deterioration of democratic norms in the U.S. as a 2024 Nieman Fellow

How to reach us

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