Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The enduring allure of conspiracies
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
June 9, 2015, 12:03 p.m.
Business Models

Crowdfunding, revenue diversity, and legalese: Some takeaways from the LION Publishers conference

Here’s some of what what discussed at the semiannual gathering of Local Independent Online News Publishers.

I spent this past weekend in Philadelphia at the Local Independent Online News Publishers conference with local journalists and publishers from around the United States. Speakers discussed everything from online audience trends, revenue generation ideas, and how to deal with prickly legal issues. Josh Stearns, director of journalism and sustainability at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, put together a great Google Doc of notes summarizing the conference, but here are a few highlights. If you want to read more of what was discussed, check out the hashtag #lion15 on Twitter.

Tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign

Charlottesville Tomorrow, a 10-year-old nonprofit covering Charlottesville, Va., is currently in the midst of its third-ever crowdfunding campaign. Its first two helped the site map out a local road improvement project and boost its education coverage. Its current campaign is aimed at creating a mobile-friendly website.

Brian Wheeler, the site’s executive director, and Dylan Smith, the editor and publisher of the Tucson Sentinel, gave a talk highlighting strategies to launch successful crowdfunding campaigns. Among their tips: Back other projects to show potential donors that you’re committed to the community. Also, don’t spend too much on the rewards. Wheeler said that in Charlottesville Tomorrow’s previous campaigns, up to 47 percent of donors didn’t want any of the gifts that were offered to those who contributed.

Experiment with new revenue opportunities

Jay Allred, publisher of the Richland Source in Mansfield, Ohio, detailed some of the efforts his site has undertaken to generate revenue and attract readers and advertisers.

Last year, for instance, the Source started Made in the 419 — an apparel and clothing line that celebrates northwestern Ohio. Made in the 419 sells pint glasses, and whenever the Source sells an ad to a new client, Allred takes some glasses and some beer to the client to thank them. Allred said that 90 percent of the site’s revenue comes advertising — most of it with local companies.

Understand legalese

Jan Schaffer, executive director of J-Lab, gave an overview on important legal issues that digital news startups face. She addressed things such as copyright law, the requirements to get nonprofit status from the IRS, and how to deal with unpaid interns.

All of the issues Schaffer addressed are covered in depth in a legal guide she coauthored with attorney Jeff Kosseff.

Photo of a different sort of lion conference by David Dennis used under a Creative Commons license.

POSTED     June 9, 2015, 12:03 p.m.
SEE MORE ON Business Models
SHARE THIS STORY
   
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The enduring allure of conspiracies
Conspiracy theories seem to meet psychological needs and can be almost impossible to eradicate. One remedy: Keep them from taking root in the first place.
With Out-of-Pocket, Nikhil Krishnan wants to make the healthcare industry funnier — and easier to understand
“It doesn’t lend itself to a lot of different types of jokes but I’m so in the deep Reddit that at this point, the sadboi existential crisis jokes just come naturally.”
Yes, deepfakes can make people believe in misinformation — but no more than less-hyped ways of lying
The reasons we get fooled by political lies are less about the technology behind their production and more about the mental processes that lead us to trust or mistrust, accept or discount, embrace or ignore.