🙌 Get $20K in funding and an expert analysis of your news business

Over the past two years, we’ve provided 175 LION member newsrooms with detailed assessments of their news businesses through the Sustainability Audits and Funding program, and 93 percent of those participants say they feel more confident in their organization’s ability to reach sustainability.

And now, we’re excited to extend the opportunity to at least 170 more U.S.-based LION members this year.

As an Audit participant, you’ll be paired with an industry expert who will analyze your news business and produce a personalized report filled with resources and recommendations to help you reach your organizational goals. You’ll also receive $20,000 in direct funding to conduct revenue experiments, support your staff, and grow your newsroom.

The total time commitment to participate is just five hours over about ten weeks. Apply by April 15 for consideration in the second cycle, from May to July. Applications are also open for the third and fourth cycles (you can apply now for any or all of the three cycles).

Sign up for our virtual Q&A on Friday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m. ET to learn more.

– Andrew Rockway, LION’s program manager

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8 resources for independent publishers

1. Prepare for reporting season in “purple” states. If you’re a journalist or newsroom executive in one of these swing states –– AZ, GA, MI, PA, WI, or NC –– tune in to two expert briefing sessions led by Aspen Digital, a nonpartisan organization focused on media policy, to learn about AI’s role in the election, the current state of the partisan divide, and other pressing topics. (Jan. 18 and Jan. 25)

2. Create a financial plan for your small business during this webinar from SCORE, a resource partner of the Small Business Administration. (Jan. 25)

3. Reform your crime reporting. Apply for Poynter’s 24-week online seminar to craft a strategy that elevates your criminal justice and public safety reporting and better serves your community. (Apply by Jan. 30)

4. Celebrate exceptional journalism. 

5. Learn more about media buying. This new report, Buyers Unfiltered, from UNC’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, uncovers how NC ad buyers make purchasing decisions and outlines 11 tactics for generating media revenue.

6. Follow your heart (goals). Learn why LION coach AX Mina recommends creating HEART Goals in addition to traditional SMART Goals.

7. Land more newsletter subscribers. Check out Inbox Collective’s list of 19 great newsletter landing pages you can learn from. Plus, here are 10 tips to ensure your emails hit inboxes.

8. Save the date for LION’s Independent News Sustainability Summit. Mark your calendar for September 5-7, 2024, to attend our Summit, which aims to gather 500 independent news leaders for three days of learning and connection. Tickets will be available soon.

What we’re reading

Nonprofit news reaching its potential. The American Journalism Project will turn four this February, and its CEO told Poynter that the nonprofit sector is still “probably decades” away from taking the place of legacy organizations. Meanwhile, INN’s new CEO Karen Rundlet says she’s watched how nonprofit news has “led the journalism field (both for profit and nonprofit) to make a stronger case for the work and how it leads to better cities, towns, neighborhoods, communities.”

More 2024 predictions. Based on its survey of digital publishers, Reuters predicts that 2024 will see the “disruptive power of artificial intelligence sweep through the information space,” as well as other predictions, including publishers focusing more on direct traffic and WhatsApp becoming a bigger deal for news. (Reuters Institute)

“We have Documenters in the room.” That’s what an elected official said during a city council meeting to encourage the presenter to use clearer language that residents can understand. And that’s the impact the growing Documenters Program is having in newsrooms across the country. (ABC News)

LIONs in the news

“I would say it’s the press doing its work and us doing our work.” 

That’s what Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Baruth said after VTDigger’s “Full Disclosure” series, which won a Public Service Award at last year’s LION Local Journalism Awards, led to a rules change in the Vermont Senate last week. 

The series exposed deficiencies in how Vermont legislators file ethics disclosures, and after the first story was published in April, the Senate posted its members’ financial disclosure forms online for the first time.

Still inspired by VTDigger’s reporting, this latest move now requires members to publicly disclose additional information about their personal finances and potential conflicts of interest, as well as those of their spouses or domestic partners. The new rule passed unopposed within minutes –– and serves as a leading example of how journalists and lawmakers can complement each other’s important work.

Read the full story.

Vermont Senate beefs up financial disclosure requirements in response to VTDigger reporting – VTDigger
Thursday’s vote came nearly nine months after the news organization documented deficiencies in the transparency rules governing Vermont lawmakers.
Vermont Senate beefs up financial disclosure requirements in response to VTDigger reporting – VTDigger
Thursday’s vote came nearly nine months after the news organization documented deficiencies in the transparency rules governing Vermont lawmakers.

In other LION member news:

  • The Record North Shore has welcomed Ryan Osborn as its director of development and first new full-time employee since its launch in 2020. 
  • QCity Metro’s Bethany Lane and The Texas Tribune’s Reese Oxner have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the News Product Management Certification, an advanced product-training program created by the News Product Alliance in partnership with the J+ program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY and News Catalyst.
  • Congratulations to Graham Watson-Ringo, a LION Audit analyst and coach who has been promoted to vice president of success and growth at News Revenue Hub.

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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