💡 The case for more business transparency


News publishers have seen that advertising spending is softening, and many of them are looking to other revenue streams to close the gap. 

But do their readers know that?

For all the attention paid to editorial transparency, we don’t talk enough about the value of business transparency, especially in hard times when publishers desperately need reader support. 

That’s starting to change though. Last week, Indiegraf explained how The Discourse and other Canadian news publishers have grown more comfortable talking money with their readers, and McKinley Park News founder Justin Kerr wrote an op-ed about the business threats posed by certain applications of AI.  

This follows publications like WTF Just Happened Today explaining the economics of their work at the same time that they ask readers to support it.  

The strategy makes sense. People tend to support organizations that they trust, and aren’t they more likely to trust a publication that gives them a candid look into how their journalism is made and what it costs to produce? 

For publishers ready to lean into this kind of transparency, this guide from Trusting News is a great place to start. 

– Ben DeJarnette, newsletter writer, and the LION team

P.S. This will be my last week behind the wheel of LION’s newsletter, as I’m moving on to focus on my new business ventures. The rest of the LION team will be stepping in as we transition to our next iteration. Stay tuned!


7 resources for independent publishers

1. Prepare yourself for a news leadership role. Apply for CUNY’s yearlong Executive Program in News Innovation and Leadership. (Deadline: June 2)

2. Launch an independent local news business with help from this summer workshop led by our very own News Guest producer Jenna Spinelle. (June 21, June 28 and July 5)

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: June 22)

4. Save the date for Durham. Our Southeast News Sustainability Meetup in Durham, North Carolina, will also host the 2023 LION Local Journalism Awards Ceremony. (October 3-4)

5. Get help collecting your accounts receivable. This SCORE webinar will explain how to navigate small claims court if your advertisers or other clients fail to pay. (June 6)

6. Find a grant for your newsroom. The Newsfuel directory includes upcoming grant opportunities for photojournalism, science reporting, AI accountability, and more. 

7. Grow your newsletter list starting with these 52 ideas and tactics

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Meet our Canada team

LION is scaling up our work in Canada, and we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve hired two knowledgeable consultants who will help lead and support those efforts. 

Julie Sobowale is our Membership Researcher Consultant. She’ll map the independent news ecosystem in Canada, identify key Canadian funders and stakeholders and complete user research on the needs of independent news publishers in Canada –– and share what we learn. 

Kelly-Anne Riess is our Membership Education Consultant. She’ll adapt our existing LION Membership Education resources, like how to create a staffing plan or our LION financial planning workbook, for a Canadian audience. 

Here’s the full scoop on Julie and Kelly-Anne and the work they’ll be doing for LION.


What we’re reading

Leading light. How a UK publication fights news avoidance by leading with good news, while still covering everything else. (Press Gazette)

School bored? How a half-hour podcast makes lengthy public meetings more accessible – and interesting. (Nieman Lab)

AI trends. How artificial intelligence could change the media industry, and what humans can do to keep their edge. (Axios)

Membership models. Why many podcasters still use third-party vendors for their membership or subscription programs, even as Apple and Spotify launch their own tools. (Digiday)

Fundraising fails. What most nonprofits are doing wrong in their fundraising emails. (Double)


LIONs in the news

Special thanks to Mississippi Free Press and MLK50 for co-hosting LION’s Deep South News Sustainability Meetup in Jackson last month. 

MFP founding editor Donna Ladd called it “probably my favorite journalism industry gathering of any size ever,” and she shared a few reflections about the path to sustainability for scrappy grassroots newsrooms like her own.

Our next in-person event is the Southeast News Sustainability Meetup this fall in Durham, North Carolina, where we’ll also host the 2023 LION Local Journalism Awards Ceremony. Stay tuned for more details! 

In other LION member news…

Documented has hired Adriana Lacy as its deputy audience director

Outlier Media executive director and News Guest host Candice Fortman contributed to a Poynter conversation about the “objectivity” debate in journalism.

Scalawag has hired Sherronda J. Brown as its editor-in-chief


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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