To find out what the Summit of Local Independent Online News Publishers accomplished, I went to longtime journalist Steve Beatty, who was editor and CEO of the award-winning, investigative website The Lens in New Orleans for eight years before joining LION as a consultant last January and who, with DeRienzo’s departure, has been named interim director.
When they met at their recent Chicago convention, independent community publishers and editors talked a lot about what might be called “reve-news.” On everybody’s mind at the Local Independent Online Newspaper (LION) Publishers’ annual meeting was how to monetize news. Even weddings and obituaries can contribute to local news publishers’ bottom line.
The current state of local news in the technology-driven information age continues to be a hotly debated topic in industry circles. There’s more consensus around the grim prospects for local print media, and more debate about the outlook for independent local news sites. Understanding where the future lies for local news requires a thorough parsing of both positions.
“There’s no ‘proven model’ other than the precept that local news works when it is just that,” said LION president Dylan Smith. “Every community is different; attempting to cover every town and city by ticking a few boxes in a top-down plan is foolhardy at best, and insulting to local readers at worst – as well as being a great way to lose millions of dollars.”
The Local Independent Online News Publishers association is still in the cub stage, but it’s getting ready to roar. There’s a 11-member board of directors, a sense of mission that’s powered by what looks like a strong start in networking, and not least funding from the Patterson Foundation that will encourage LION’s growth by subsidizing membership dues…