| Joan Davies via Facebook

It’s official. Lkldnow.com has launched. An estimated 100 people attended a launch party last night at Catapult Lakeland, which is where I work when I’m not working from home, news scenes or Lakeland’s coffee shops.

Here is an approximation of my remarks (I spoke from notes rather than a written speech) followed by the slideshow on display at the launch party that describes lkldnow.com.

Thank you so much for coming tonight. It fills me with gratitude to see so many people here. People mean community and community is what Lkldnow is about.

I’m pleased that so many of you have talked with me and expressed support for my crazy dreams. So let me tell you quickly about 10 of my crazy dreams:

1. Journalism remains important because it provides information that turns residents into engaged, knowledgable citizens.

2. In an age where fewer people are connected with traditional media, we need to find new ways to keep people engaged with community.

3. Social media is turning everybody into potential reporters, so social media needs to be deeply ingrained into the reporting process.

4. Because there’s a deluge of media and not enough time for most people to wade through it all, readers appreciate a knowledgeable and experienced curator who can find the good stuff for them.

5. Mobile rules. If you’re not easy to read, quick and complete on mobile, you’ve lost the majority of your audience.

 6. Readers these day want to hear the voice of an authentic  individual who engages with them and who they sense cares about the community.

7. Readers want news. It’s easy to find opinions online; news is a lot scarcer.

8. The nonprofit model may be the best way to preserve community journalism. It carries with it a trust to act on behalf of readers and community improvement.

9. Advertising is still important to remain financially viable, but a membership model is vital in gaining strong community support. We’re still working on our membership model, but know this: Everybody will get to see our news without paying; and we’ll have some perks for paying members, such as social events like this one or discounts at local merchants. We will also offer corporate sponsorships.

10. We’ll need to stay flexible because technology and reader preferences could render half of what we’ve planned moot in two years.

And I’ll add one more item: 

There’s a lot of cool stuff happening in Lakeland, and we’re excited about letting people know about it!

So those are my dreams and to quote a famous teller of truths, “You may think I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”

There’s a movement of independent news sites in cities and towns and even neighborhoods in every state of the country. I’d like to think we’re pushing the envelope in Lakeland because I’ve seen few that are so focused on social, curation and mobile.

I’ve joined the Local Independent Online News Publishers and will be going to their national convention in Chicago in a few weeks where I’ll be learning from others who are part of this movement.

Not a lot of people know what we’re doing in Lakeland yet. But I hope after Chicago, we’ll be one of the models that others try to emulate.

Thank you so much for your support. Enjoy the rest of the party.

SEND CORRECTIONS, questions, feedback or news tips: newstips@lkldnow.com

Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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