Spotlight on community needs

Barry Friedman

Editor & Publisher

In the middle of covering a horrific mass shooting in Michigan this week, publisher Alice Dreger stopped to explain to readers about how her nonprofit news organization stays focused on community needs.

The staff of East Lansing Info had worked with local police two years ago to conduct emergency drills to better prepare for a local crisis, she wrote on Tuesday.

Based on what they learned, “We stayed out of the way of emergency services. We knew not to report from the scanners and social media, because that can just cause unnecessary panic and wrong moves. We tried to keep people informed about shelter-in-place orders and to remind them how to sign themselves up for direct emergency alerts.”

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Dreger and her managing editor concluded that their role was NOT to duplicate what the big media organizations were doing.

“Instead, our aim is to be here for you, the people who live here, and to provide you the information you need to get through today and tomorrow and the next days. We are working on bringing you information about closures, postponements and psychological support services,” she wrote. “We are also working on having our reporters bring what I would call ‘witnessing’ – reporting that helps you feel seen and heard, reporting that recognizes that you are a member of a community in shock and in grief.”

I have never met Alice, but I have come to know her work through an organization we both belong to: the Institute for Nonprofit News. I admire her passion for news and ingenuity in growing her grassroots news organization.

Like me, she is capping her career by giving of her time to build a local-focused news organization that will serve the community long beyond the time she is actively involved. I hope LkldNow never has to cover something this traumatic, but if we do, Alice has built an enduring model of how to be prepared and keep community needs topmost in reporting.

Drive-by Shootings Result in 3 Arrests and a New Gang Task Force

All Polk law enforcement agencies are participating in the gang task force, along with state and federal agencies.

WonderHere Converts to a Farm Schoolhouse

Owners Tiffany Thenor and Jessica Zivkovich set out to show ‘education can be done … more peacefully and joyfully.’

Callie Neslund Promoted to CEO of the GiveWell Community Foundation

She joined the organization in August and succeeds John Attaway, who will remain with GiveWell as counsel.

Second Time’s The Charm for Lakeland Couple

Celebrating their 25th Valentine’s Day since they were wed, couple shares how they made their second marriages last.

Neo-Nazis Distribute Antisemitic Literature in Lakeland

Police are reviewing events to determine if laws were violated while chief acknowledges First Amendment rights.

Landmark Searstown Mosaic Mural Uncovered

Painters whitewashed the mosaic artwork in 2016. The paint was carefully removed this past week.


Woman, 37, dies in one-car crash on Kathleen Road early Tuesday | News Channel 8

Sunny day greets Detroit Tigers as they begin practicing | MLive

Algae blooms in Scott Lake prompt health warning | The Ledger

‘Steak by the Lake’ today and Wednesday will benefit out-of-work Texas Cattle Company employees | Bay News 9

LPD is relaxing tattoo policy to expand pool of young recruits | Fox 13 News

Neil Combee and Gow Fields Plan to Run for Property Appraiser as Marsha Faux Retires | The Ledger (subscribers-only story)

Interest in paddleball is on the upswing in Lakeland | The Lakelander

Bodega Market debuts Saturday on Tennessee Avenue across from Munn Park | ABC Action News

Forum: Future of Downtown West | Thursday | 6 to 7:30 p.m. | Yard on Mass
The city of Lakeland is seeking ideas from the public about the future of Downtown West, a broad area stretching from Florida Avenue to Brunnell Parkway. GAI Consultants are creating a master plan addressing gaps in infrastructure and land use.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang | Friday through Sunday | Lakeland Community Theatre
Performances for the next three weekends are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Lake Mirror Center, 121 S. Lake Ave. Tickets: adults, $26; seniors 55+, $24; students 17 and under, $20.

Friday Night Live | Friday (duh) | 6 – 9 p.m. | Munn Park
Listen to energetic live music from Proper Wednesday and enjoy adult beverages from downtown businesses. (The event has a state liquor license and nearby venues will be serving to-go cups.) This is the first in a series of monthly Munn Park concerts.

Black History Festival | Saturday | 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. | Jackson Park
Artisan vendors, food trucks, kids’ activities, African dance tribute by Crystal’s World of Dance, boxing demonstration from DX Sports and spoken word  from the MLK Oratorical Contest. The Coleman-Bush Building will be open to showcase a neighborhood history walk with information provided by the Lakeland History and Culture Center.

Lakelanders lined up Tuesday and Wednesday for “Steak by the Lake,” a drive to support the 90 Texas Cattle Company employees who are temporarily out of work because of a fire that damaged the restaurant last week. Vendors for the 50-year-old eatery at 735 E. Main St. donated the steaks, and several thousand meals were sold to people who had a taste for both a good steak and helping others.

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Barry Friedman

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.