Cardinal News is a finalist in five of the 10 categories in LION Publishers’ 2023 LION Local Journalism Awards.

The LION Awards recognize excellence by local independent online news businesses in categories focused on LION’s pillars of sustainability: journalistic impact, financial health and operational resilience. Cardinal News earned nominations in all five categories that it entered, including LION Business of the Year.

Cardinal News is also a finalist in the Institute for Nonprofit News INNY awards for Startup of the Year.

“We are beyond thrilled to be earning recognition across the U.S. for our work in building a sustainable news organization that is worthy of our communities in Southwest and Southside Virginia,” said Luanne Rife, executive director. “Our readers tell us all the time how much they appreciate our in-depth reporting. These LION awards recognize not only our journalism, but our success in creating and sustaining a vibrant news organization.”

The LION contest has four tiers of news organizations: micro, small, medium and large. Cardinal News competed this year in the medium tier for organizations that had revenue between $500,000 and $1.1 million the previous year. Winners will be announced Oct. 3 at the LION meeting in Durham, North Carolina. 

Cardinal is being recognized in five of LION’s 10 categories:

Business of the Year: Cardinal was named a finalist for growing from $300,000 in seed funding to a $1.3 million annual budget — nearly all of it local funding. Our staff has gone from three people to 12, and we grew our newsletter subscribers by more than 11,000 in the past year and now have more than 17,000 subscribers. The award recognizes a LION member that has achieved transformational impact for its news business by working to achieve sustainability through operational resilience, financial health and journalistic impact. Judges consider progress toward sustainability alongside a clear demonstration of working in an equitable and inclusive, collaborative and data-informed way. Other finalists are the Houston Defender Network and El Tímpano in the San Francisco Bay area.

Financial Health: Cardinal was named a finalist for accomplishing in one year what we intended to do in five by going from $300,000 in seed funding to more than quadrupling our annual budget. The award recognizes a LION member that has achieved transformational impact for its organization’s financial health by making progress toward developing a plan for earning money, managing a budget, and/or monitoring revenue and expenses to extend its financial runway. Other finalists are Charlottesville Tomorrow and Richland Source in Ohio.

Outstanding Coverage: Our coverage of the 50th anniversary of Bloody Monday and the civil rights summer of 1963 in Danville led by Grace Mamon with Brooke Stephenson contributing. The award recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that builds increased awareness or influences public conversation about a specific issue that reverberates throughout a community. Other finalists are The Highlands Current in upstate New York and Mission Local in San Francisco. You can read the package of stories here.

Public Service: Our coverage of the July 2022 flooding in Buchanan and Tazewell counties and its aftermath by Megan Schnabel, Markus Schmidt and Susan Cameron. The award recognizes general excellence in journalistic impact that successfully connects people with the information and services they need to navigate their lives and help make their communities more inclusive and equitable. Other finalists are Mississippi Free Press and San José Spotlight. You can read our flood coverage here.

Product of the Year: Our speaker series that has brought nationally recognized speakers to Blacksburg, Bristol, Clifton Forge and Danville. The award recognizes a LION member that developed a successful and creative short-term or long-term product to strengthen its journalistic impact, financial health and/or operational resilience. Other finalists are Jacksonville Today and La Noticia in North Carolina.