Barry Friedman

In honor of turning 8 months old today, I thought this would be a good time to introduce you to its founder — me — and what we’ve been doing to connect people with Lakeland. So read on as I interview me.

Name: Barry Friedman

Title: editor and publisher,; president, Linking Community Now, the nonprofit that oversees lkldnow.

Age: 63

Define what you do in 25 words or less: I provide mobile-friendly news and information about Lakeland through a website and social media in order to encourage increased civic engagement.

Why did you name it lkldnow and how do you pronounce it? I pronounce it: Lakeland Now. “Lkld” is a popular social media hashtag or abbreviation for Lakeland. “Now” conveys the immediacy provided by our Social Wire, which is a continuous stream of social media posts about Lakeland. So put together the name combines Lakeland, social media and immediacy.

Where do you spend most of your worktime? The only thing that’s typical about my day is that I work from home first thing in the morning and at night. In between, I spend time at Catapult, meeting with people at various coffee shops, meetings at City Hall and wherever the news takes me.

What in your workplace shows off your passions? In my home office — really, it’s our family room — I am surrounded by books and music, including some of my earliest vinyl.  In front of me  is a view of the outdoors. And on the wall near my desk is a framed drawing of the lkldnow logo drawn by Bump Galletta, a neighbor.

Photos by David Dickey Jr.

What project are you excited about? I’m still excited about lkldnow. To me, it’s a great experiment in preserving community journalism by putting social media and mobile devices at the center of the experience. In addition to our own reporting, we curate other news sources, so we become the one place you can come to find out what’s going on in Lakeland from a variety of sources. And by establishing ourselves as a nonprofit corporation (we receive our 501c3 designation in November), we highlight our public service mission and the fact that readers come first.

What’s your business model? It’s the NPR/PBS model, but without the pledge weeks. We offer packages to corporate sponsors who can get their message in front of our audience of engaged Lakelanders. And for later this year, we plan a member-sponsor program that will give individual donors some benefits to be named and invitations to some social events. In the meantime, there’s a donation form on our Support Us page.

What’s your current challenge? When I started lkldnow, I knew it would be a challenge to get readers who rely on Facebook for news to leave it and visit a local website. I thought the Social Wire (on our home page and here) would make lkldnow appealing to people interested in what social media is saying about Lakeland. But many people I talk with tell me they see our work mostly on Facebook or Instagram. That’s great, but they’re missing most of what we offer. My new message is: A minute a day at makes you smarter about Lakeland.

What’s your most important work tool? That’s a hard one. As much as we’re a mobile-focused site — and I do a lot on my phone — I’d be hard pressed to give up my laptop. So both my phone and laptop.

Mac or PC? MacBook. Like many people, my first iPod began the slope from no Apple to all Apple.

Apple or Android? Apple. I have been assimilated.

Favorite productivity tools: Since I switch so much between my phone and laptop, I look for apps/programs that easily sync between the two (and my iPad.) So some of the tools I use are: Fantastical for my calendar; Any.Do for my to-do list; Wunderlist to track story ideas; Notes for note-taking; LastPass for password management; DropBox and iCloud for cloud storage; Feedly for RSS notifications; Pocket for read-later articles; TweetBot to monitor Twitter; Pixifly and Gramfeed to monitor Instagram; is that enough?

Tip for keeping organized: In a perfect world, I would review my top-do lists and re-prioritize tasks at the start of every day — but it’s not a perfect world.

Favorite diversions on your mobile: Spotify for music; Words With Friends. I justify my frequent social media diversions by calling them work.

Favorite information site – other than lkldnow: I usually listen to the NPR One app a few times a day for latest news; I like the daily news summaries from The Skimm and NYT Now. Sources for news about the media include daily and weekly newsletters from journalism organizations (API, Poynter, LION Publishers, to name a few) the On the Media podcast and tons of links I encounter on Twitter and Facebook.

What do you usually wear to work? It varies. Often sturdy hiking pants and a lkldnow logo shirt. Sometimes khakis and a dress shirt if I need to spiff up for a meeting.

How did you prepare for what you do? My whole career led to lkldnow. I studied journalism at the University of Florida and then spent 39 years in newsrooms. I was a reporter the first two years and spent the rest of my career as an editor who supervised others and curated the news for local audiences. I’ve been a journalist in Lakeland since 1982. I started a newspaper website in 1995 and grew it to a network of sites generating more than 12 million page views a month, all the while incorporating new story-telling platforms as they emerged.

What book, TV show, movie or music has captured your imagination lately? One of the things I love about Spotify is the ability to check out new music when it’s released or discover artists or albums I missed when they came out. One of my current favorites is an Americana group from Asheville, N.C., called the Honeycutters that my brother introduced me to.

What’s your favorite leisure activity? I like activities that let me view nature and explore new places: hiking, biking, kayaking, driving my Miata the top down.

Is there something you’re working on that makes Lakeland a more livable community? I’m glad you asked. The original reporting in is focused on efforts to make Lakeland a more livable community. It’s really the filter we use to focus on what we’re going to cover and what we’ll leave to others.

What about Lakeland makes you excited? In the last few years, there’s emerged an energy and a can-do spirit focused on making Lakeland a cooler and better place. There are so many young people deciding to stay here and bringing with them an optimism and drive to excel. And there’s huge support for entrepreneurs through efforts like Catapult and a millennial generation that values small local businesses.

What about Lakeland has you worried? I am pro-growth, but I also support the notion that effective growth is planned. Like many, I welcome the city of Lakeland’s stated goal of becoming more customer-centric. But I sometimes wonder if some people hear the term customer-centric and think it means the emphasis on planned growth no longer applies.

Social media profiles: lkldnow –  Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube; personal – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

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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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  1. Keep up the good work. Barry. I wonder if the model can be syndicated or used in other communities. Before working at the Ledger I worked at a community site like yours after being laid off at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, but it wasn’t as good as this. I’m glad to see you’re getting it done there in Lakeland, especially since all the cutbacks happened.

    1. Thanks, Vinnie. One of the ideas in setting up Linking Community Now was setting up a mechanism for making sites like lkldnow available elsewhere. I don’t think we have the bandwidth now to replicate it elsewhere, but it’s definitely something wed like to do later.

  2. This guy had to be a tough case to interview:) Nice talking to you at catapult yesterday

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