Submissions open for the 2020 LION Local Journalism Awards

Who will get top marks for their coronavirus coverage? Which outlets led by example through collaboration?  Who will be named Publisher of the Year? 

It could be you. 

LION Publishers is now accepting submissions from LION members for the 2020 Local Journalism Awards. We’ll hand out awards to recognize our colleagues across the U.S. and Canada on October 22 in an online awards ceremony sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

This year, we’ve added five new categories:

  • Public Service Award: Judges will award a publication who has served its community with high-impact journalistic work.
  • New Publisher of the Year: Judges will award an outstanding entrepreneur who launched their publication after July 1, 2019. 
  • Member of the Year: Based on nominations, the LION staff will award a member who has gone above and beyond in supporting their fellow LION members and community. 
  • Coronavirus Coverage: Judges will award coverage of coronavirus that demonstrates meeting a community’s need; creative reader engagement; and journalistic impact.
  • Collaboration of the Year: Judges will award creative collaborations between publications or community partners.

Returning categories for this year’s awards include: 

  • Business Idea of the Year: Judges will award a new business initiative that made a substantial difference in revenue prospects.
  • Technology Innovation: Judges will award ideas that promote a new way of doing business, presenting editorial or newsgathering, or engaging with audiences.
  • Best Solutions Project of the Year: Judges will award projects that excel in solutions, evidence-based journalism.
  • Best Coverage of Underserved Communities: Judges will award coverage of communities typically underrepresented in media, which could include communities with English as a second language; ethnic communities; immigrant communities; LGBTQ communities; low-income communities; people of color; rural communities; and people with disabilities.
  • Publisher of the Year (Solo, Small, Medium and Large): Judges will award publishers who provide excellent coverage of their community over a prolonged period of time. 
  • Investigative Report of the Year (Solo, Small, Medium and Large): Judges will award investigative stories or series that result in increased awareness and community impact.
  • Breaking News (Solo, Small, Medium and Large): Judges will award for coverage of unplanned breaking or developing news events, weighing quality of writing and creative use of social platforms under deadline. 
  • Visual Journalism Project: Judges will award for compelling storytelling through photography, videography or infographics/data visualization.
  • Service Award (Vendors): Judges will award vendors who offer best-in-class products and customer service for LION Publishers.

Who is eligible? The LION Awards are open to LION Publishers members, including  all employees or freelancers who work for member publications. Vendors who have helped serve LION member publications may apply for the LION Service Award. Interested in joining LION Publishers? Check out our membership criteria and application

What are the categories? To ensure we’re comparing LION member publications of roughly the same size and capacity, we’ve decided to move from determining a publication’s category size based on pageviews to the total number of full-time employees. To determine which size category you fall into, we’ll ask that you provide your full-time equivalent staff as of July, 1 2019, with each awards entry. For example, two part time positions can equal one full-time equivalent position. If you’re unsure what size category you fall into, contact

  • Solopreneur: 1-2 FTEs
  • Small publication: Three to 10 FTEs
  • Medium publication: 11-20 FTEs
  • Large publication: 21+ FTEs

What’s the time frame? The LION Awards are open to editorial work, business initiatives and technological advancements made between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020.

What does it cost? Entry fees are $25 for LION Member award categories, and $50 for the Vendor Service Award category, plus transaction fees. Payment should be made by credit card via the Submittable platform.

What’s my deadline? Applications must be received by August 16, 2020, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.

Learn more and submit your entries today!

Questions? Contact Kelsey Ryan at