💸 The latest good news for news revenue


The golden age of news monetization tools is fully upon us – and it got even better this week with the launch of News Revenue Engine, a contribution management platform designed for newsrooms and built by our friends at News Revenue Hub.  

For context, I’m old enough to remember the days when giving money to independent news publishers meant creating a site-specific account and navigating a checkout system clunky enough to belong on AOL 1.0. (And since I made an AOL joke, you can probably guess exactly how old I am.) 

It really was just five or six years ago that publishers were trying to make reader revenue work without Memberful, Newspack, Pico, Substack or almost any of today’s most popular donation and membership platforms. 

Fast forward to 2023 and we’re quickly getting to the point where the biggest challenge for independent publishers isn’t finding a workable tech solution for their revenue strategy, but rather choosing from all the options. 

That’s one reason why we created the LION Tools and Services Directory last year as a starting place for publishers trying to understand what’s out there, from CRMs to emailing platforms to ad managers. 

In the reader revenue category, you’ll notice that the free-to-use News Revenue Engine is one of ten different platforms serving digital publishers – and considering how bleak the landscape looked less than a decade ago, that’s a milestone worth celebrating. 🥳

Now here are 10 other resources and opportunities to help publishers build more sustainable independent news businesses:

1. Pitch a session for the INN Days 2023 conference in Washington, D.C. in early summer. (Deadline: February 28)

2. Apply for a reporting award with no entry fee. The Brechner Freedom of Information Award comes with a $3,000 cash prize – and it only takes a few minutes to enter. (Deadline: March 1)

3. Choose the right business structure. Join this SCORE webinar to learn about the different types of business entities and how to choose the best one for your business. (March 7)

4. Get legal advice and support at a pair of upcoming workshops: 

  • Open Records and Meeting Workshop: Lawyers will provide an overview of the Freedom of Information Act and public records laws and highlight how you can use these laws to access information vital to your reporting. (March 7)
  • Pre-Publication Review Workshop: Lawyers will provide tips to assess the legal risks posed by a story and discuss how to mitigate these risks and determine when you should seek assistance for in-depth legal vetting. (March 9)

5. Apply for one of these investigative journalism grants with upcoming deadlines:

  • The Ida B. Wells Fellowship selects three journalists to pursue an ambitious investigative reporting project and supports them with mentorship and a $25,000 award. (Deadline: March 12)
  • The Data-Driven Reporting Project gives financial awards to organizations and freelancers working on document-focused, investigative stories. (Applications open: March 1; Deadline: March 13

6. Strengthen your editing chops. Apply for ProPublica’s yearlong Investigative Editor Training Program. (Deadline: March 13)

7. Reduce churn with a better onboarding process. Here’s what Gannett publications have learned about the best way to onboard subscribers (or members) so that they stick around. 

8. Strengthen your fundraising strategy by applying these nine lessons from the Lenfest Institute’s 2023 News Philanthropy Summit. 

9. Build trust with investigations. Show people you’re committed to fair and deep reporting by sharing how – and why – you do investigative journalism.

10. Learn from local news ecosystem-builders. The latest Democracy Fund newsletter is full of insights about what local news ecosystems could look like and how to build them. 

– Ben DeJarnette, newsletter writer, and the LION team

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How to set SMART goals

If you’ve been inspired by this month’s LION newsletters to get better at goal-setting this year, we’d encourage you to learn more about setting SMART goals, which stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Aggressive yet achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

LION members can learn all about SMART goals in our News Entrepreneur Academy course taught by Lizzy Hazeltine. 

Not a LION member yet? Learn more and apply to join our community of 450+ independent news publishers and access funding, coaching and other benefits to help you build a more sustainable small business.  


What we’re reading

Putting the “indie” in Indiana. Why Capital B – a nonprofit news startup for Black Americans – chose to launch its second local newsroom in Gary, Indiana. (Nieman Lab)

Impact revenue. How Mississippi Today used one of its biggest investigations as a springboard for fundraising. (News Revenue Hub)

State support. How California, New Mexico, New Jersey and other states are using public funding to support local journalism. (Nieman Reports)

Newsletter first. How a one-person newsletter operation in Hollywood grew into a full-fledged media business. (Media Voices)

Product thinking. How to make sense of all the new “product” and “project” management roles popping up in digital newsrooms. (News Product Alliance)


LIONs in the news

Block Club Chicago, The Colorado Sun, The Daily Memphian, and Long Beach Post are four of the six founding members of the Alliance for Sustainable Local News, a new group of publishers that are “working hard to replace the flagging daily newspapers in our communities.” 

“This is a group of do-ers,” said Larry Ryckmann, editor and president of The Colorado Sun. “We’re already learning from each other, and this new alliance will accelerate those initiatives.”

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…

  • 9 Millones was featured by Nieman Lab for its work helping crowdfund independent journalism in Puerto Rico. 

How to reach us

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