Local online publishers group gets $1 million grant

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Local Independent Online News Publishers organization (LION) has been awarded a three-year, $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The grant will allow LION to expand its staff with experts to train its nearly 250 members on core issues to sustain local publishing. Areas of concentration will include business coaching, revenue development, peer learning, advertising, membership programs, and shared technology services.

Delaware Business Now/Bird Street Media is a member of LION.

“My membership in LION was instrumental in maintaining a sustainablepresence in online media,” Delaware Business Now Chief Content Officer, Doug Rainey stated. “This grant will bolster existing digital newsrooms and lead to new online ventures that can reduce the impact in Delaware and elsewhere of ‘news deserts’ brought on by continuing staff cuts in legacy media.”

“Local news is the key to strong communities and a healthy democracy,” said Kelly Gilfillan, chair of LION’s board of directors. “This generous grant will not only benefit and guide our current members, but we’ll be able to encourage journalists and entrepreneurs to start new newsrooms in cities and towns across the country where local coverage has been slashed.”

Knight Foundation also announced grants to the Institute for Nonprofit News and the News Revenue Hub, two other nonprofit organizations working to revitalize local news.

The grant dovetails with LION’s new commitment to expanding its membership criteria to specifically include ethnic media, including legacy print publications shifting to digital; public media; niche publications; and university-based local news initiatives.

As the leading funder of journalism and media innovation in the country, these grants further Knight’s commitment to fostering more informed and engaged communities. The $1 million is part of a $300 million Knight initiative announced in February, focused on the future of local news and information.

LION was founded in 2012 when a small group of online publishers gathered in Chicago, and has since grown to nearly 250 members in 47 states. To learn more, visit lionpublishers.com

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