💰 Learn what $500 million in local news philanthropy means for independent publishers

The Press Forward, a coalition of more than twenty funders led by the MacArthur Foundation that aims to re-center local journalism as a force for community cohesion, civic participation, and government accountability, announced today that it has raised $500 million in funding commitments for local journalism. It’s one of the most ambitious and collaborative efforts of its kind, and we want to help LION members understand what impact this may have on their businesses.

We’re thrilled to announce that we’re offering an early and exclusive opportunity to learn more about the initiative at our Southeast News Sustainability Meetup in Durham, North Carolina, next month. 

The Keynote Q&A will feature an information session with Duc Luu, The Knight Foundation’s director of sustainability initiatives of the journalism program, and Chris Krewson, LION’s executive director. The conversation will be followed by audience Q&A.

We hope you’ll join us for this incredible opportunity! You can purchase tickets to the Southeast Meetup here.

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What we can learn from the Texas Tribune layoffs

“Growing too fast is a danger, but so is standing still.” 

That’s what CalMatters CEO Neil Chase posted in his organization’s Slack channel after layoffs at the Texas Tribune shook the independent news industry last month. Similar conversations doubtless played out in journalism organizations across the nation as the news prompted publications to take note and take stock, so we’ve asked Neil, who is a LION board member, if we could share his assessment on the state of CalMatters and what the Tribune’s travails mean for the industry as a whole. Here’s an excerpt of what he had to say:

People are unnerved by the Texas Tribune layoffs. That, to me, is appropriate. Anyone who’s not a little freaked out isn’t paying attention.

This is, unfortunately, a form of business cycle that affects nearly every company. Nonprofit is a tax status, not a business model, and nothing about being a nonprofit insulates us from the pressures of business cycles. That doesn’t mean cuts are inevitable, but it does mean you have to constantly look at how you’re spending and making money and make adjustments, and sometimes those are painful.

Just as we’ve learned from The Texas Tribune’s successes over the years, we’ll learn from their challenges. And we’ll continue to be the best partners we can to them and our other peer organizations, because we’re all in this together.

You can read the entire post here.

14 resources and opportunities for independent publishers

1. Kick-start your news startup in Kansas by applying for the Wichita Foundation’s Info Challenge. In partnership with the Tiny News Collective, this program will identify and support three early-stage or new information startups serving the Wichita area. (Applications open starting Sept. 6

2. Apply for CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism’s Entrepreneurial Journalism Creators Program, a new online program for independent journalists developing niche news products. (Apply by Sept. 8)

3. Attend ProJourn’s Texas Open Records Virtual Legal Workshop, a free workshop that provides an overview of Texas Public Records Laws and explains how to use these laws to access information that is vital to your reporting. (Sept. 12)

4. Attend ProJourn’s Pre-Publication Review Virtual Legal Workshop, a free workshop that provides tips on assessing and mitigating potential legal risks posed by a story. (Sept. 14)

5. Become a Democracy Day partner. Produce at least one story or piece of content about the U.S. democracy crisis, or if you’re not with a newsroom, promote the initiative to your networks. (Sept. 15)

6. Apply for The Lenfest Institute’s Philadelphia Local News Sustainability Initiative. This grant program provides core operating support and capacity-building funding to news organizations in the Philadelphia region. (Apply by Sept. 15)

7. Snag a “seed” grant for early reporting. The Fund for Investigative Journalism is offering grants from $1,000 to $2,500 for preliminary reporting on specific projects. (Apply by Sept. 15)

8. Participate in NYU Tandon’s Center for Responsible AI’s free, interactive workshop, “Responsible AI & Journalism: Workshop on Algorithmic Transparency,” and discover how to get started with algorithmic transparency. (Sept. 19)

9. Apply for the Google News Initiative (GNI) Pre-launch Lab, an eight-week, free-of-cost, fully remote program for early-stage journalism entrepreneurs. The Lab will support up to 24 participants in launching digital news efforts that are trustworthy, community-responsive, and financially sustainable. (Apply by Sept. 22)

10. Attend Radically Rural’s 6th Annual Summit in Keene, New Hampshire to learn about strategic opportunities for transformation in rural communities. (Sept. 27-28)

11. Apply for the Local Media Foundation’s 2023 Local News Fund Program. Participants will work with LMF on campaigns to solicit tax-deductible donations from their communities. (Apply by Oct. 1)

12. Attend our Southeast News Sustainability Meetup. This regional event in Durham, North Carolina, features keynote presentations, breakout sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities, as well as the 2023 LION Local Journalism Awards Ceremony. (Oct. 3-4)

13. Get your grant writing on. Participate in Community Grantwriters’ “A Map to Successful Grantwriting,” a virtual, three-week program on successful grant writing. (Starts on Oct. 4)

14. Take the next step in your news career. Apply for the News Product Alliance’s News Product Management Certification (NPMC), a rigorous, part-time, and virtual program for mid to senior-level news professionals looking to bolster product development and innovation skills. (Apply by Nov. 3)

What we’re reading

Proceed with care. How to ethically interview vulnerable sources despite significant power differentials. (Poynter)

Follow the numbers. What readers say they want from data-driven journalism. (Press Gazette)

At your service. Why nonprofit local newsrooms are being credited with preserving democratic processes and holding the powerful to account. (American Journalism Project

What bubble? How the podcast market is experiencing an increase in listeners and advertisers for the top programs. (Digiday)

LIONs in the news

We were so excited to see that Outlier Media launched its first membership program last week, The Outlier Collective. It’s not uncommon for independent news organizations to generate support via membership, but Outlier is doing things a little differently. Community members can join the collective by donating any amount of money or simply by filling out a membership profile. And the best part? Everyone is considered an equal partner (and receives the same benefits) regardless of how they join. It’s all part of Outlier’s mission to “serve the needs of the most vulnerable members of its community” regardless of their ability to pay.

“We believe non-paying members can offer their talent, time, and experiences to enrich our community,” Outlier writes. “Members who are able to “pay it forward” can take pride in supporting Outlier’s mission while making it possible for fellow residents who can’t afford to pay to join as equal partners in The Outlier Collective.”

Check out their page for more information about this structure and how it works.

Join The Outlier Collective · Outlier Media
Become a member of the Outlier Collective as a donor or for free to join our work to build a Detroit that works for all Detroiters.
Join The Outlier Collective · Outlier Media
Become a member of the Outlier Collective as a donor or for free to join our work to build a Detroit that works for all Detroiters.

In other LION member news: 

  • Documented has developed and released a Wage Theft Monitor that tracks and publicizes data on New York businesses found guilty of withholding wages from employees.
  • Queen City Nerve has hired two former interns as full-time staff members and a new art director, boosting its staff count by three people.
  • The Roanoke Rambler is hiring a director of revenue to spearhead its advertising/sponsorship program. 
  • Enlace Latino NC is celebrating its fifth year of informing the Hispanic/Latino community in North Carolina. They are launching an anniversary campaign this month with the goal of raising $10,000 in 30 days. 
  • The Intersection Magazine’s Delonte Harrod is facilitating a community journalism class offered through Public Square Amplified.

How to reach us

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