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Revenue is trending up for independent news publishers. 

That’s the takeaway from our latest report on the state of LION’s members, along with the finding that more than 50 news businesses with just one or two full-time employees — representing LION’s core membership — now earn more than $100,000 annually.

It’s really good news. But we also know it could be even better, and so do our members. 

Where does this confidence come from, amid all the usual headwinds? 

For your answer, just read the reasons our members gave for applying for the LION-GNI Sustainability Audits & Funding program, which provides personalized advice, support and up to $6,000 of funding to help independent publishers strengthen their news businesses. 

The story these program applicants tell is no longer one of an industry grasping at straws or chasing shiny objects. 

The path to news business sustainability is becoming clearer, and many LION members now know, at least in broad terms, the steps they need to take to get there. 

What they’re often missing is personalized support to help them plan and prioritize those steps, plus some of the funding they need to implement them. 

The LION-GNI Sustainability Audits & Funding program is designed to address that gap, and these 20 publishers are just the first of 100 we plan to support through this program in 2022. 

Want to be considered for our next cycle of Sustainability Audits and grants? Make sure you’re an active LION member and apply here by June 13, or email program manager Andrew Rockway if you have questions. 

– Ben DeJarnette, communications manager, and the LION team

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15 ways to build a stronger news business

Registration is now open for our Independent News Sustainability Summit, hosted in partnership with News Revenue Hub and RevLab at The Texas Tribune and made possible by the Knight Foundation. 

Get your ticket for this first-of-its-kind conference focused on revenue and sustainability for independent news businesses. The Summit will take place in Austin on October 27-29, and early-bird pricing ends on Aug. 19. 

Now here are 15 other ways to build a stronger, more sustainable news business:

Earn more revenue

  • Hear advice on digital advertising at a half-day virtual conference featuring presentations by LION members Scott Brodbeck from and Jay Senter from Shawnee Mission Post. (May 13)
  • Build a wider funding pipeline. The Lenfest Institute is offering two courses next month on how to lay the foundation for a fundraising ask and build up your list of prospective donors. The deadline to apply is May 13.

Increase your impact

  • Republish data-driven journalism from a trusted newswire. Stacker provides publishers with engaging data journalism on topics that local audiences care about — all at no cost. Sign up for a demo. (Sponsored)
  • Use metrics to prioritize your coverage. This Better News case study explains how audience analytics helped empower reporters at The Buffalo News to cut back on daily coverage so they could focus more on deeply reported enterprise stories.
  • Build a bigger, more diverse audience with help from this Poynter workshop on how to use content audits to better serve your entire target audience.

Improve your business operations

  • Prepare your business to survive without you at a virtual workshop about planning for vacations, emergencies or even retirement. (May 17)
  • Create a strategic plan for your newsroom with inspiration from LION member Chalkbeat and its incredible new Local News Field Guide.

Check out these grants, awards, fellowships, and conferences

  • Plug into the future of nonprofit news at the Institute for Nonprofit News’s virtual INN Days conference on June 13-15.

Become a LION member

Starting at only $210/year, LION membership quickly pays for itself by giving you discounts to events like the Independent News Sustainability Summit, access to opportunities like the LION-GNI Sustainability Audits and Funding program and eligibility for cost-saving benefits like this Media Liability Insurance program.  

Interested in becoming a member? You can learn more about LION membership on our website and apply here.

What we're reading

The muddle of middle management. More women of color are getting promoted in newsrooms, but those promotions don’t always come with the power to make big changes. (Poynter)

Building from scratch. A serial entrepreneur explains what went into designing and launching her latest digital media venture. (Simon Owens’s Media Newsletter)

Covering climate. What it looks like for a general-interest local news publication to lean into climate change coverage. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Monetizing a podcast. A new report predicts that the podcast advertising market will nearly quadruple by 2024, and its insights can help you get a piece of that pie. (TechCrunch)

Knowing your audience. Speaking of podcasts, they’re gaining particular traction with Black and Latino Americans, who spend more time listening to audio content than do white audiences. (OIGO)

LIONs in the news

Report for America is helping send reporters to more than 200 local newsrooms this year, and we’ve loved watching so many LION members announce their new hires on Twitter this week.

Congratulations to all the LION members and other publishers chosen to host RFA fellows in 2022, and welcome to all the outstanding reporters who are joining their newsrooms.

And in other LION member news…

  • RANGE Media invited a reporter from fellow LION member InvestigateWest onto its podcast to talk about IW's reporting on the criminal justice system in Washington.

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