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While Free Press is steadily gaining the editorial credibility we envisioned, the business side of this publication has suffered. That’s because I have far less experience in that part of publishing.

And so, it was my great fortune a couple of months ago to come across a relatively new publishers’ association called LION Publishers.

LION stands for local, independent, online news. It’s exactly what Free Press has been from the beginning.

So, Free Press is a LION and I didn’t even know what to call it. Now I do.

Conference

Just a few weeks ago I continued to publish stories as I was traveling to Chicago for an intense three days at LION Publishers annual conference.

At a record of close to 300 in attendance, the venue that had served this 5-year-old association’s needs comfortably was now crowded.

It will take me weeks to go through and watch video of the many sessions I wasn’t able to get to when the choices were many. But, I’ll be watching the sessions I attended, too.

Most important was the interaction with publishers who are in their fifth or even 10th years doing what I’ve been doing for only a year.

This conference was focused on providing a wealth of information on how to fund local news.

LION is primarily for those of us who have decided to engage in local relationships with advertisers we know and see often and with members who show so much interest in local news.

But, there were some there who fund through strong membership programs. Others pursue grant money from foundations even when they are for-profit publications.

Business model

In coming weeks Shoe-leather blog will be devoted to developing the approach we will take in expanding Free Press with a for-profit business model that looks to the local business community for support.

The jump-start of attending the LION conference has been extremely valuable in this process.

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