💥 AZ Luminaria to the NYT: 5 can’t-miss Summit sessions


We’ve been working hard on our Independent News Sustainability Summit lineup, and we’re thrilled to announce the first five confirmed sessions and speakers:

➡️ “From founder to leader: Becoming the leader your news business needs you to be” with Charo Henríquez, editor, newsroom development and support at The New York Times

➡️ “Consolidating for impact: How mergers and acquisitions are changing the independent news landscape” with Neil Chase, CEO of CalMatters, and Sisi Wei, editor-in-chief of The Markup; they announced their merger in April

➡️ “Building work culture: How investing in people and systems creates more sustainable newsrooms” with Irene Fischler McKisson, co-founder and principal executive of Arizona Luminaria, Yukari Kane, founder and CEO of Prison Journalism Project, Jennifer Mizgata, founder of Little Key, and Amanda Zamora, co-founder and former publisher of The 19th and founder and principal of Agencia Media

➡️ “Strategy is for everybody: A strategic planning workshop for solopreneurs and leaders of small news outlets” with Bene Cipolla, former editor and publisher of Chalkbeat, and Ashley Woods Branch, former CEO and founder of the Detour Detroit newsletter and current executive director of the Fund for Equity in Local News

➡️ “Spending wisely and sitting pretty: Building an operations team you can afford” with Kristin Tessman, former deputy director of Montana Free Press and current business planning lead at NewzOps, Anne Galloway, founder and editor-at-large of VTDigger and co-founder of NewzOps, Stacey L. Peters, former chief technology officer at VTDigger and current tech leader and co-founder of NewzOps, and Andrew Rockway, LION’s associate director of Sustainability Audits

Stay tuned for more sessions, and purchase your early bird Summit tickets by June 28. Also, use this link to book your hotel accommodations at the Westin and receive the LION discount.

– Hayley Milloy, LION’s marketing manager

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Summit sponsor Q&A: BlueLena

💙 Sponsors like BlueLena make the Summit possible. And this week, we sat down with BlueLena’s chief strategy officer, Ned Berke, to learn how they’re leveling the playing field for independent news publishers. Read their featured Q&A, which includes success stories, sneak peeks of exciting projects, and a practical, low-lift tip for LION members.

Interested in supporting the event? Contact [email protected] to discuss which sponsorship level is right for you.


Meet the 47 LION members participating in our next Audit cycle

🎉 47 LION members have been selected for the Sustainability Audit’s 2024 May-July cycle.

Each participant will receive a thorough assessment of their news business, plus actionable recommendations, resources, and up to $20K in direct funding to help them move toward sustainability. 

For this cycle, we’re also proud to partner with Blue Engine, a coaching organization that specializes in all areas of journalism sustainability. Blue Engine will conduct 10 Audits specifically for those in our “Growing” stage, helping improve how we define sustainability and offer support for larger organizations.

Learn why each organization signed up, and if you’re a U.S.-based LION member who has yet to receive an Audit, apply by September 9.


8 resources for independent publishers

1. Apply for Press Forward’s first open call for funding. Grants will provide small, local newsrooms that publish original reporting in underserved communities with $100K in unrestricted funding over two years. (Info session June 3; apply by June 12) Plus, read these five application tips from last week’s Q&A session.

2. Apply for the LMA Lab for Journalism Funding, a six-month program that will teach selected participants how to develop reporting projects that can be funded through philanthropy. (Apply by May 24)

3. Get inspired. This Center for Community Media report demonstrates how local news outlets are meeting the information needs of immigrant communities, complete with a directory of newsrooms and case studies.

4. Prepare for the death of the third-party cookie. Sign up for the Google News Initiative’s information session to learn about third-party cookies: what they’re used for, what’s changing, and how to use Google’s Privacy Sandbox Analysis Tool.

5. Promote your work. The American Press Institute’s Marketing for Local News series includes exercises, advice, and resources to help small news organizations highlight their impact and offerings.

6. Make a media kit. Hosted by LION member redbankgreen.com’s Kenny Katzgrau, register for this webinar and receive examples of media kits from fellow publishers, access to a Google Slides media template, and insight into the “must-haves” in every media kit. (May 29)

7. Advocate for access. This resource guide created by Poynter and CUNY’s Center for Ethics and Leadership provides case studies and recommendations for what to do when you’re “shut out” from accessing important sources.

8. Try new tools. Inbox Collective has rounded up 41 tools that can help you design, grow, and monetize your newsletter.


What we’re reading

Existential threat or essential tool? The pros and cons of generative AI in the local news industry. (Medill Local News Initiative)

Seeing value, but not spending. Although more Americans are seeing the value of local news and opting to access it online, most readers aren’t paying for it and are unaware of local newsrooms’ financial challenges. (Pew Research Center)

Worth 1,000 words. How users are circumventing Canada’s Online News Act, which prompted Meta to block Canadian-based news from its platforms, by sharing screenshots of Canadian news stories. (Nieman Lab)

Just in time. How PolitiFact en Español, Poynter’s new Spanish-language website and social media presence, will help combat misinformation and prioritize fact-checking during this election season. (Poynter)

An aligned acquisition. The founder and publisher of Omaha-based digital outlets The Reader and El Perico has gifted them to Nebraska Public Media in an effort to continue their critical work. (Nebraska Public Media)

“A severe loss.” We are deeply saddened by the death of Crystal Welch, the vice president of LION member Mississippi Free Press’ board of directors. Welch, 42, was one of three victims of a triple homicide on May 12. Revered for her commitment to social, legal, and advocacy work in Mississippi, she helped lead the charge to retire the state’s old Confederate-themed flag; MFP Editor and CEO Donna Ladd mourns “a severe loss to our state.” (Mississippi Free Press)


LIONs in the news

LION members Saco Bay News, El Tímpano, California Health Report, Shasta Scout, Cardinal News, and The Texas Tribune participated in the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s 2023 Community-Centered Symposium to get support and resources to try at least one “new-to-them” idea.

From launching merchandise (like Saco Bay’s T-shirt and Shasta Scout’s stickers) to hosting community open houses (like Cardinal News’ “Cardinal Connects”), each outlet tackled an exciting experiment. And the best part? They’ve shared their findings with us in this article.

Kudos to these newsrooms for being willing to explore new ideas –– and for “learning out loud” so others can benefit.

11 Community-centered projects from newsrooms and journalists across the country – RJI
In November 2023, 28 journalists from community-centered newsrooms and roles across the country came together at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.
11 Community-centered projects from newsrooms and journalists across the country – RJI
In November 2023, 28 journalists from community-centered newsrooms and roles across the country came together at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

In other LION member news:

Resolve Philly’s Cassie Haynes has been accepted into the Wallace House Center for Journalists and the University of Michigan’s Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship for the 2024-2025 academic year.

El Tímpano’s Maye Primera and staff have received the Rollin M. “Pete” McCommons Award for Distinguished Community Journalism. They’ve also welcomed two new senior reporters to their newsroom: Cassandra Garibay, the senior housing reporter, and Erica Hellerstein, the senior labor and economics reporter.

Outlier Media’s Candice Fortman has been accepted into Stanford University’s John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship class of 2024-2025.

The Markup’s Sisi Wei, Documented’s Mazin Sidahmed, and LAist’s Josie Huang are recipients of this year’s Freedom of the Press Awards from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Documented is hiring an editor-in-chief/executive editor.

Mississippi Today is hiring an audience engagement specialist.

Oviedo Community News launched its first collaboration with two local NPR stations and a statewide publication.

VTDigger is hiring a managing editor.

The Assembly has launched a new bureau in Greensboro, NC.


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