🙅 What’s on your 2023 stop-doing list?


LION is introducing a new revenue tier for our membership program — the Micro Tier, which is for current news publishers and aspiring news entrepreneurs earning less than $50,000 in annual revenue for their news business. 

About one-third of LION’s members fall into this category, according to member-reported data. During the 2022 LION Local Journalism Awards program, LION experimented with adding a Micro Tier to specifically acknowledge this group of news publishers whose work can often go overlooked when being compared to news organizations earning revenue that can be up to ten times greater. 

The successful celebration of Micro Tier members who won validated our decision to formally establish a revenue tier that is at a lower membership cost for those who are the most resource-strapped. 

Learn more about LION’s new membership tiers and apply to become a member.

– Stephanie Martinelli, programming director of membership experience, and the LION team


Make a ‘stop-doing list’ for 2023

We’re talking about burnout this month, and today’s recommendation is one that most news leaders won’t like to hear: You might need to do less next year. 

Sure, peer support groups can help you manage stress, and a long-overdue vacation might buy you more time until you reach a breaking point. 

But actually overcoming burnout requires addressing its root causes, including an unsustainable workload. 

The good news: Emily Ristow from the American Press Institute shared tips for creating a “stop-doing list” at the Independent News Sustainability Summit, and her slides are full of great advice on deciding what work to prioritize and what to let go. Here are a few highlights:

1. Ask yourself and your staff regularly: “What are you doing that isn’t a good use of your time, and why?” Consider categorizing the work you do as “high or low effort” and “high or low impact.” The work that’s high effort and low impact should probably be the first thing you cut. 

2. Test assumptions on why something is done and/or who cares about it. Just because something is important to you doesn’t mean it’s important to your readers. To overcome this personal bias, try using audience analytics and other data to make informed decisions about what work is most impactful. 

3. Before you start something new, ask: “How does this contribute to our mission and/or business?” You can save yourself stress down the road by being intentional about the new commitments you make and learning to say ‘no’ to opportunities that don’t align with your mission and business model. 

Learn more about “stop-doing lists” and other strategies for preventing burnout in this slide deck from the Independent News Sustainability Summit.

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11 opportunities for independent publishers

Did you know that the federal work-study program might be able to subsidize a student intern in your newsroom?

That hot tip is courtesy of Madison Minutes co-founder Sam Hoisington, whose intern next semester will have 75 percent of their pay covered by the university. (Disclaimer: Eligibility and compliance rules will vary by state. If you’ve used federal work-study to help hire an intern, we’d love to hear about your experience.)

Now here are ten other opportunities and resources to build a stronger news business: 

1. Reach new readers. The SmartNews partner program can help LION members reach a bigger audience and earn new revenue. Learn more» (Sponsored)

2. Grow your reader revenue and reader engagement. Register for a two-month News Consumer Insights Shift program offered by the Google News Initiative, and use LION as your program code. (Sponsored)

3. Turn your board members into fundraisers. Hear advice from LION board member Jamaal Glenn and other nonprofit fundraising experts at this webinar organized by The Pivot Fund. (TODAY)

4. Talk social media strategy with other digital publishers at this virtual event about what’s next for news on social media after the mass layoffs at Meta and Twitter. (December 18)

5. Learn a new skill or tool to start the year at one of these low-cost virtual workshops offered by the CUNY Newmark Graduate School of Journalism. (January 4-24)

6. Make a plan for tax season. Learn how to choose the best tax payment plan for your small business and avoid penalties from the IRS. (January 5) 

7. Take a research sabbatical at Harvard by applying for a Nieman Fellowship. (Deadline: January 31)

8. Earn more revenue from philanthropy. Register for the virtual 2023 Lenfest News Philanthropy Summit. (January 31-February 1). 

9. Get funding to launch a nonprofit newsroom. The American Journalism Project’s Local News Incubator will offer four founders 18 months of support and $400,000 in seed funding. (Deadline: February 15) 

10. Take a course on disability reporting. Military Veterans in Journalism is offering free training sessions on disability reporting to improve coverage about disabled veterans and the broader disabled community. Email [email protected] to book a training for your newsroom.


What we’re reading

Independents’ day. Why journalism philanthropy should support community-based independent news publishers, not corporate media sellouts. (Nieman Lab)

Spin police. Why the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act is a bad proposal that wouldn’t actually do anything that its name suggests. (Lookout Local Santa Cruz)

Leadership lessons. How busy people can make time to develop and refine their leadership skills. (Harvard Business Review)

Business planning. How to prepare your news business for a possible media sector recession in 2023. (The Pivot Fund)

News oasis. What it will take to address ‘news deserts’ and provide access to quality local news in more communities. (Reynolds Journalism Institute)


LIONs in the news

Outlier Media founder Sarah Alvarez blew some minds last week at a DealBook event with news leaders from The New York Times, The 19th, TheSkimm, and other national publications. 

Alvarez drew a distinction between “news” and “information” and pointed to the work Outlier has done to help tenants access public information on their landlords. As a result, The New Yorker’s David Remnick seemed to have a revelation in real time on stage. 

“You are talking about a totally different formal approach to your audience and how you present this material,” Remnick said. “I confess, the idea that I would publish a raw database is just not something that enters my mind. Maybe it will next week as a result of this conversation, which is why it’s so fascinating.” 🤯

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LION members, we want to hear about your success stories, big or small. Send us updates on your work at [email protected], and we’ll feature them here in our weekly newsletter.

In other LION member news…

Berkeleyside is hiring a public safety reporter, and Planet Detroit is hiring its first full-time reporter.

Boulder Reporting Lab partnered with the Center for Environmental Journalism and KUNC public radio to launch a pop-up newsroom staffed by seven local graduate students, and last week they published their reporting on the toll of a deadly wildfire.

Kansas City Defender and Long Beach Post are featured in a new American Press Institute report about addressing misinformation with young audiences. 

The Xylom contributor Rose Schnabel was featured by the Indiana University College of Arts + Sciences for her accomplishments as a double major with a minor in science writing.


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