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How do you combat loneliness as an independent news publisher?

Burnout is one of the top challenges we’ve heard about from LION members, and as we work on ways to address it, we’d love to know:

  • Who do you turn to for support or commiseration? Professional peers? Advisory board members? Personal friends?
  • What other specific ways do you cope with loneliness in your work? What are the things that make you feel less isolated and more supported?
LION Deputy Director Anika Anand plans to use your feedback to shape a session at the Independent News Sustainability Summit this fall, so if you have insights or experiences to share, please reply to this email or reach out to her directly at  

And speaking of the Summit, there are only eight days left to get discounted early-bird tickets. 

Register by Aug. 19 to save on your ticket, and don’t forget to apply for a travel scholarship if you need help covering the cost of flights or lodging. 

– Ben DeJarnette, communications manager, and the LION team

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18 ways to build a stronger news business

It’s not just us raving about the value of getting to know your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). 

The Bowie Sun founder Catherine Hollingsworth says: “I highly recommend SBA resource partners like SBDCs and the Women's Business Center…. They’ve shared insights about state funding, ways to establish relationships with banks, and networks that can help establish ad leads. They also helped with warm intros to key officials and bookkeepers.”

Thanks to Catherine for the rec! Now here are 18 other ways to build a stronger, more sustainable news business.

Earn more revenue

  • Build a better subscription program. Zephr is hosting a free mini-training series this month for digital publishers who are thinking about introducing or refining a subscription-based revenue model. Learn more and sign up» (Sponsored)
  • Take advantage of free advertising credits. Nonprofit newsrooms may qualify for a Google program that offers up to $10,000 of ad credits per month.
  • Hear growth lessons from local news founders at this Google News Initiative workshop with LION members Stacy Feldman of Boulder Reporting Lab and Nissa Rhee of Borderless Magazine. (August 17)
  • Get free marketing advice at this SCORE workshop where “no question is too basic and no question is too hard.” (September 6)

Improve your business operations

  • Put your business on a better foundation. The Google News Initiative's Digital Foundations Lab will help publishers set up Google Analytics, implement smarter workflows and prepare to grow revenue. The deadline to apply is next Thursday, August 18. 
  • Find tools to improve your tech stack. The LION Tools & Services Directory lists the most popular tools we know about for accounting, publishing, analytics and more. 

Increase your impact

  • Trade ideas for writing better newsletters. ONA is hosting an idea-swapping meetup for newsletter editors, producers and anyone interested in starting or improving a newsletter product for news. (August 19)

Check out these grants, awards, fellowships, and conferences

  • Talk community news in Chicago. Request an invitation to the Google News Initiative’s Community News Summit on August 16. The event will focus on successes and challenges in running small, community-oriented news organizations.
  • Apply for a grant to support your election coverage. The American Press Institute's Election Coverage & Community Listening Fund will help publishers engage their communities between now and November 2022. (Deadline: August 17)
  • Learn how to acquire and analyze government documents and data with other journalists of color. Apply for this FOI Bootcamp for Journalists of Color led by the National Freedom of Information Coalition. (Deadline: August 17)
  • Pitch your best podcast idea. Three finalists will get to deliver a live pitch at the RESONATE Podcast Festival in Richmond, Virginia. (Deadline: August 23)
  • Enter the ‘Local that Works’ contest. The $20,000 cash prize will go to an organization that “demonstrates the power of local media to inform, engage, educate, inspire, convene, and transform communities.” (Deadline: August 23)

Become a LION member

“While other associations have worthwhile benefits, LION provides exactly the right tools for our outlet and I am kicking myself for not joining sooner.” 

That’s what Auburn Examiner founder Elizabeth Miller says about her LION membership – and we’d love to show you why more than 400 independent publishers have joined her as members. 

Need more info? You can learn more about LION membership on our website, or by emailing with questions about how LION can support you.

Know and grow your audience

We’re doing a deep dive on audience research this month at LION, and in honor of a certain media company selling for half a billion bucks, here’s a short-and-sweet list of recommended learning opportunities and resources for independent publishers. 
  • Be inspired: Listen to our latest News Guest episode for audience research and growth advice from The Green Line founder Anita Li and WhereBy.Us co-founder Rebekah Monson. 

What we're reading

Cash splash. Why the most surprising thing about Axios’s $525 million exit is its buyer. (Nieman Lab)

Career-adjacent creators. How aspiring media entrepreneurs can launch a side hustle without sacrificing their nights and weekends. (Simon Owens’s Media Newsletter

Tick tock. Where teenagers are spending the most time on social media, and how that’s changing. (Pew Research Center

Empty promises. How corporate America is falling short on its pledges to spend more ad dollars with BIPOC publishers. (WURD Radio & URL Media

Dinosaur watch. Why communities served by Gannett newspapers will need even more independent publishers and scrappy entrepreneurs in the near future. (Poynter)

LIONs in the news

There isn’t much to cheer about in this account of The News & Observer demise as a standard-bearing regional newspaper, but if you want a silver lining, consider the publication that story appears in. 

LION member The Assembly launched a year ago with “a few weeks of cash on hand [and] an untested idea about how to make more money.” Today, it has a team of six – and a plan to raise $3 million to hire 22 new full-time reporters.  

It’s also not merely out to replace the reporting capacity of The News & Observer. The Assembly is building something different, with journalism that’s “turning heads and shifting institutions” in new and novel ways.  

In other words, it’s yet another reminder that the future of local newspapers is not the future of local news, no matter how many times they get conflated. 🙄

And with that, here’s what other LION members are up to…

  • El Tímpano founder Madeleine Bair, New York Focus general manager Rebecca Klein, The Emancipator co-editor-in-chief Amber Payne and KPCC/LAist senior editor for community engagement Ariel Zirulnick are among 23 global media leaders chosen for CUNY’s Executive Program in News Innovation and Leadership.
  • The AFRO, The Atlanta Voice, Chalkbeat, AfroLA founder Dana Amihere, and The Tucson Sentinel publishers Dylan Smith & Maria Coxon-Smith signed a letter calling for small local news businesses to be considered for support through the Community Reinvestment Act. LION Publishers also signed the letter on behalf of our members.

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