📍Something for everyone: 15 unique opportunities for news entrepreneurs


If there’s one thing independent news entrepreneurs are short on, it’s time. Sure, there are a million things you could/should/would like to do to strengthen your news business, but sometimes it’s hard to know what’s right for you. So in the interest of getting straight to the point (and sharing some incredible opportunities), here is a quick list of what’s coming up and who it’s for.

📍 If you want to make your news business more sustainable …

We’re accepting applications for the final Sustainability Audits & Funding program cycle of 2023 until Monday, Aug. 28. This is an unmatched opportunity to have an expert complete a deep dive analysis of your organization, resulting in a tailored roadmap to help you identify and respond constructively to roadblocks to reaching sustainability. It also provides $20,000 in direct funding to reach your organizational goals. The total time commitment to participate is just five hours over the course of ten weeks. And the best part? This benefit is available to LION members at no cost. Learn more and apply here by Aug. 28.

📍 If you’re thinking of starting an independent news business …

We’re excited to share that our former partner Phillip Smith is offering the program previously known as the GNI Startups Bootcamp, now exclusively for GNI. Applications are open for the Google News Initiative (GNI) Pre-launch Lab, an eight-week, free-of-cost, fully-remote program for early-stage journalism entrepreneurs. Beginning October 2023, the Lab will support up to 24 participants in launching digital news efforts that are trustworthy, community-responsive, and financially sustainable. If you’re an aspiring journalism entrepreneur, don’t miss this fantastic opportunity. Learn more about the program during these live informational sessions on Aug. 30, Sept. 12, and Sept. 21, and apply by Sept. 22.

📍 If you want to connect with other news entrepreneurs IRL … 

Join us in Durham, North Carolina for our Southeast News Sustainability Meetup Oct. 3-4. Maybe you’re at ONA this week and you want to keep building those amazing connections. Or maybe you’re looking for an event tailored specifically to the needs of independent news leaders. Or maybe you want to experience the incomparable feeling of pride, joy, and camaraderie by attending the LION Awards Ceremony & Dinner. No matter your motivation, this is an event you won’t want to miss. Curious to know who will be in attendance? Check out the FAQ section on our website to review a running list of registered organizations.

📍 If you’re a Canadian news entrepreneur looking for guidance on business structures and tax compliance …

Our Canadian members have asked us for more resources directly aimed at the laws, structures, and best practices of news entrepreneurship in Canada. That’s why we’re pleased to share our latest batch of trainings that meet that need. We’ve added a chapter in our Operational Readiness Handbook on Business Structures and Taxes for Canadian Publishers as well as an Essential Documents Checklist for Canadian Publishers. Both are available to members through our News Entrepreneur Academy.

📍 If you want to help strengthen the independent news ecosystem in your region … 

Become a LION Community Ambassador and help build regional relationships with independent publishers. Ambassadors will receive a $1,000 honorarium upon completion of project deliverables. Apply by Aug. 27. We’re particularly interested in hearing from folks in the following areas:

  • Hawaii 
  • Alaska 
  • North Carolina/South Carolina 
  • Kentucky/Tennessee
  • North Dakota/South Dakota/Nebraska
  • Colorado/Utah/Nevada
  • Idaho/Montana/Wyoming  

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10 (more!) resources and opportunities for independent publishers

1. Learn about the current state of Facebook and how to leverage it by attending the Center for Cooperative Media’s online event, “Facebook in 2023: A workshop for local news publishers.” (Aug. 29)

2. Apply for The New York Times’ Local Investigations Fellowship. Fellows will be paid to spend a year producing signature investigative work focused on their state or region that will be published by The Times. (Apply by Sept. 1)

3. Pitch your proposal. The Fund for Investigative Journalism is accepting proposals for grants of up to $10,000 for investigative journalism stories that break new ground and uncover wrongdoing in the public or private sectors. (Apply by Sept. 5)

4. Hone your spreadsheet and budgeting skills with free capacity-building community sessions presented by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. (Starts on Sept. 7)

5. 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)

6. 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)

7. 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)

8. 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)

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

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


What we’re reading

Media mapping. How SembraMedia will lead the global expansion of Project Oasis, expanding its directory and report to include independent digital media from around the world. (SembraMedia)

Untapped funding. How small business capital frameworks could be optimized for local news outlets in New York City. (Revson Foundation)


LIONs in the news

Founded in 2016, Honolulu Civil Beat is a nonprofit newsroom “dedicated to cultivating an informed body of citizens, all striving to make Hawaii a better place to live.” And that dedication has been evident in their consistent coverage of the Hawaii Fires, which started on Aug. 8, predominantly on the island of Maui. Though the publication does not usually cover breaking news, they knew this story was different. “This is really a life-changing story,” Patti Epler, editor and general manager of Civil Beat, told Poynter. “We’re just now totally committed.”

They’ve created a category on their website for the Hawaii Fires, providing easy access to real-time updates and need-to-know safety information, including where to find and how to access community resources. An FAQ section features practical questions and answers and includes multiple ways for community members to contact them. We applaud Honolulu Civil Beat’s timely and important efforts, and our hearts are with all those affected by the tragedy. In this Poynter article, you can read more about how they’re coping with and covering the Maui Fires.

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: 

  • Block Club Chicago established a new investigative team, The Watch, to act on tips and pursue high-impact stories to improve government transparency and accountability. 
  • The Lansing Journal is featured in Editor & Publisher Magazine’s article, “How two local news publishers are creating a sense of community while proving their value,” highlighting their commitment to telling stories about local people.
  • News leaders representing IndigiNews, Prison Journalism Project, and Wisconsin Watch have been selected for CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism’s 2024 Executive Program Cohort.
  • El Tímpano is a recipient of the 2023 NBCUniversal Local Impact Grant, a program that provides unrestricted grants to nonprofit organizations helping to improve their local communities.
  • The Wausau Pilot & Review’s legal battle with a Republican state senator, who claimed defamation after the outlet accurately reported his use of an anti-gay slur, has resulted in crushing costs.
  • GOOD Morning Wilton celebrated its tenth anniversary of publishing good stories for and about the people of Wilton, Connecticut.

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