Chicago 18

2018 LION Summit: Steps to success

Register now — LION's conference in Chicago, Oct. 11-13, will feature dozens of informative sessions with concrete tips for success in the local news biz. Be a part of LION's largest-ever gathering! 

Check out the complete schedule of session for the 2018 LION Summit — more than 3 dozen presentations and conversations over 3 days, with even more speakers and discussion leaders being added soon.

LION Publishers is pleased to invite all who care about the future of local journalism to a conference devoted to the journalistic excellence and economic well-being of local independent online news sites.

The annual LION Summit will return to Chicago on Oct. 11-13, 2018, at the downtown campus of Columbia College Chicago. It will feature three days packed with an array of speakers, panel discussions and networking opportunities devoted to revenue ideas and best practices, community engagement and sustainability. We'll open with a Thursday "boot camp" of in-depth sessions with experts, an afternoon networking and informational session, and hold nightly receptions where we can all share what we've learned. Last year, more than 220 publishers and editors, academics, foundation representatives, industry experts and vendors attended our Chicago conference. In 2018, you won't want to miss the vigorous exchange of ideas.

LION Publishers has more than 220 members in 47 states and Washington, D.C., representing both for-profit and nonprofit business models — all independently owned and operated and devoted to local journalism.

The organization’s gathering in Chicago will feature opportunities for members to discuss common issues and problems, share success stories and encourage the founding of new local news sites. Each event will feature an informative slate of speakers, workshops and panels on topics relating to local publishing, covering real-world strategies for revenue, hands-on technology demonstrations, effective reporting tips, and experts speaking on business and legal issues.


  • Check the schedule page for detailed updates »

  • Thursday, Oct. 11, registration will open at 9 a.m., with all-day "boot camp" workshops aimed at new publishers, idea-stage entrepreneurs and established publishers looking to dig deep into their operations, plus an evening reception and networking event.
  • Friday, Oct. 12, sessions will run all day, roughly 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., followed by an evening gathering, including light food and drinks.
  • Saturday, Oct. 13, sessions will again run all day, roughly 9:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., with a hosted happy hour gathering and then "out on the town" socializing to follow.

Back on the schedule this year are the boot camp sessions on Thursday, but we're extending them all day. We'll hold separate tracks, with information named at startup publishers and sessions for experienced operators. There is no additional charge to attend the boot camp.

The summit will feature presentations, panel discussions and in-depth breakout sessions on advertising sales, sponsored content, membership programs, email newsletters, podcasting, video, tech platforms, expansion and scale, nonprofit vs. for-profit business models, legal concerns, FOIA, solutions journalism, local sports and database reporting.

In addition to three days of networking and sessions led by industry experts, your registration includes light breakfast and a catered lunch on Friday and Saturday, coffee and snacks, and appetizers/light dinner and drinks at the Thursday and Friday evening receptions.

Previous LION gatherings have been an excellent source of information and networking for journalists who have recently launched their own local news sites or are considering it. With a wide diversity of membership, and some publishers who have been in operation for over a decade, LION brings together the best business and reporting minds in local online news.

Register for the 2018 LION Summit

Sign up now for the nation's only conference for local indie publishers, by local indie publishers!

Sign up soon! Regular registration will run through September 30: $130 for members, $275 for non-members. Late registration and at-the-door rates will be slightly higher.


The 2018 LION Summit is presented by {2018conferencesponsors}.

Questions about becoming a sponsor of the LION Summit or about programming or registration can be directed to executive director Matt DeRienzo at


LION Publishers has arranged a block of rooms for Oct. 11-13 at the Best Western Grant Park Hotel in Chicago, just a block from the site of the summit, at a special discounted rate of $199 for single and double rooms. Register online here or call the hotel at (312) 922-2900 and mention "LION" to reserve a room. The deadline for obtaining that rate is Sept. 11, but the block of rooms will be filled up by then, so act soon. The group rate will be honored up to three days before and after the conference, for those who wish to spend some extra time in Chicago.

Because of a quirk in the online reservation system, it's difficult to book rooms online for a stretch that includes Wednesday-Saturday nights. It's possible to book Weds/Thurs/Fri and a separate booking for Saturday night, or Weds and Thurs/Fri/Sat. We've asked Best Western to figure out what might be happening, but that's a work-around for the moment.

Another block of rooms is available at the Congress Plaza Hotel, four blocks up Michigan Avenue from the Best Western. Rooms there are $179 per night (possibly cheaper via your favorite online booking outlet), but Saturday night is sold out. Reserve online or call 312-427-3800 x 5025 or 800-635-1666.

Also, you can check out other nearby hotels listed on the conference map. A Travelodge is just a few blocks up Wabash from the conferences site, but rooms are limited on Saturday night. If you're looking for a fancier hotel than the Best Western, the Loop is filled with them. The Hilton's a couple blocks away, and there are even snazzier ones. Columbia College also maintains a list of recommended hotels, and for those on a very tight budget, there's a hostel within walking distance that can be as low as $40 per night (that's cheaper than a cab ride from the airport). Need a roommate? Use our Roomate Roster list to help find someone to split hotel costs.

2018 conference blog

Read more posts from the LION Summit blog »