Full-time reporters matter

Trinity Laurino

Executive Director

The Washington Post recently reported that National Geographic — that stalwart publication that brought the wonder of the world into so many of our homes – has laid off its last staff writers; they are being replaced by freelance writers. 

For those outside the media, the move from staff writers to freelancers probably seems like a minor distinction, but I’ve seen for myself what is lost when this happens. As a former employee, I saw it happen to National Geographic’s television department when, in the early 2000s, they laid off staff producers and replaced them with contractors. I saw that for every small, short-term benefit of scale, a larger inefficiency was created down the line. Because the big losses, ultimately, are the institutional knowledge and the understanding and investment in the organization’s mission. 

Why does this matter to LkldNow and to you? Over the last four years, we’ve worked very hard to grow LkldNow so we could hire a staff reporter and a staff editor. While we love our freelance reporters and are grateful for their contributions, it’s not the same as having journalists on staff. Freelancers pitch and pick the articles they want to work on and can be working on several pieces for multiple publications at the same time. They often aren’t available for breaking news or longer, more in-depth reporting. 

The addition of Kimberly and, now, Cindy to the LkldNow team marks an important milestone for us and for our community. It means we are bucking the trend of shrinking media, especially in local news. It means that even as Barry, our stalwart of local journalism, begins to rebalance his life after dedicating 60 volunteer hours or more a week to LkldNow for nearly eight years, we’re still able to preserve and even expand our institutional and community knowledge. 

All of this is vital to the future of local journalism in Lakeland. It means, eventually, being able to build a pipeline for the next generation of local journalists and ensuring that everyone has access to the local news they need for generations to come. 

Lakeland Homeowners’ Insurance Woes Mount As Another Carrier Pulls Out of Florida

Local homeowners are struggling to find and pay for coverage. Many are turning to Citizens; 1 in 8 are risking going uninsured.

Gourmet Popcorn is a Family Affair for Four Lakeland Brothers and Their Mom

Four Brothers Popcorn Co. was founded in April and has gained an enthusiastic following in local foodie groups.

Four LPD Officers Cleared in Videotaped December Arrest

State Attorney Brian Haas will not pursue charges after FDLE cleared the officers of wrongdoing.

Sorry, Charlie: Fish-Canning Company Nixes Plans for $21M Lakeland Plant

Rising labor and construction costs were cited as factors in scuttling the deal that would have created up to 115 jobs.

Despite Recent Rain Damage, City Says Brick Roads Have More Pros Than Cons

At the request of residents, the bricks on East Belvedere Street were uncovered last month after four decades hidden under asphalt.

Couple Charged in Death of Toddler After Leaving Her in Hot Car

Joel and Jazmine Rondon are charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.


DeeDee Moore seeks a new trial in 2009 murder of lottery millionaire Abraham Shakespeare | Tampa Bay Times

Florida coaches honor LHS’ Bill Castle with lifetime achievement award and hall of fame designation | Florida HS Football

Lakeland driver, 60, dies in collision with oncoming passing pickup on SR 37 south of Mulberry | Fox 13 News

Lakeland native McCoy Moore gets song-writing contract with Nashville’s SMACKSongs | Music Row

Amy Bratten moves from associate provost at Southeastern U to academic provost at Polk State | news release

Harden Boulevard salon owner teaches hair braiding to inmates and teen campers | Bay News 9

Man, 62, dies in Galloway Road collision | Fox 13 News

Tuesday meeting will focus on the future of neighborhoods west of downtown Lakeland | ABC Action News

New northwest Lakeland homes with butterfly roofs stir online debate | The Ledger

Her higher education delayed, Lakeland mother of seven graduates from Keiser U as valedictorian | ABC Action News

New Florida laws have some local LGBTQ residents considering leaving | The Ledger

Stargazing at the Rooftop | Thursday | 8 to 10 p.m. | Bonnet Springs Park
Meet at the Southern Glazers & Spirits Rooftop Bar for telescope viewing, astronomy activities, and cocktails with the Sidewalk Science Center. Check the park’s social media if weather conditions seem questionable.

Escape to Margaritaville | Friday through Sunday | Lakeland Community Theatre
The musical comedy featuring Jimmy Buffett tunes runs this weekend and next with shows Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets: $26 adults, $24 seniors 55+, $20 students 17 and under.

Rumba Fest | Saturday | workshops 1 p.m. | performances 8 p.m.
Afternoon workshops on dancing salsa and bachata are $40 and take place at Ultimate Dance Center, 2989 Lakeland Highlands Road. Evening performances, $20, are at Union Hall. Tickets.

Around 100 yogis came to Bonnet Springs Park Saturday for free morning yoga, part of the park’s Mind, Body, Movement series. Check for future health events on the park’s calendar. | Barry Friedman, LkldNow

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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.