LkldNow is one of 10 independent news organizations chosen for a sustainability project sponsored by the Google News Initiative and LION Publishers. 

An announcement published by LION — Local Independent Online News — Publishers describes the inaugural GNI Startups Lab as “a six-month program that provides the coaching and capital to help news businesses work toward sustainability.”

It continues: “These 10 news businesses were selected from nearly 150 applicants across the large — and growing — independent journalism landscape. They participated in an intensive selection process that included several rounds of evaluation and in-depth interviews with our resident experts, who assessed their progress and goals as part of LION’s pilot Sustainability Audit.”

Among the 10, eight are in the U.S. and two are in Canada. Three are in California. LkldNow is the only Florida site and one of only two from the East Coast of the U.S. Four are directly focused on underserved communities or news deserts. Half, including LkldNow, are nonprofits.

The sustainability audit included an in-depth questionnaire and a lengthy conversation with a journalism consultant from Durham, N.C.

Switching to first person: My favorite part of the consultant’s insightful report gives hugely deserved accolades to Trinity Laurino, our community engagement director:

“Barry and Trinity are a good team, and they’re doing a lot of things right. They have truly diversified revenue, and not only do they have cash reserves, they’ve put those reserves to work in a way that opens up doors with the local community foundation. They’re making smart moves to build relationships and collaborations in the area. Trinity sets clear, measurable and achievable goals. If every nonprofit news site had a business-side leader like Trinity, this field would be in excellent shape.”

Trinity Laurino and Barry Friedman | Photo by Amy Dobson

Over the next six months, Trinity and I will be working with a coach to design a revenue experiment aimed at helping LkldNow reach sustainability. The sponsors provide the coach and funding for the experiment. The only thing that is asked of us is hard work. We’re used to that. Time to dig in.

— Barry Friedman, Editor & Publisher

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Barry Friedman founded 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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