The Kibitzer


Hello Laguna

By Bill Fried
By Bill Fried

Hi. It’s me. No, you didn’t pick up the wrong paper. It’s the right one. I wrote for those other guys for two years. Can’t say a bad word about them. Good people all. Some excellent writers too. It was just time for something new.

Truth be told, I want to support the paper that is truly invested in our town. I like that it is locally owned and managed. In fact, I believe it’s the future of the newspaper business. Owned and operated by local businesspeople cum philanthropists who believe in the compact to provide news to their community – even if newspaper economics suck.

Take millionaire John Georges of New Orleans. He obviously cares about the place he was born and raised in, because he ran for governor in 2007, and then mayor in 2010. Lost both times.

But then the longtime local paper, The Times Picayune, announced it was dropping the print edition to just 3X a week. You see, the Times Picayune is owned by the Newhouse family, those titans of publishing from New York, and they decided a mid-sized city could no longer support a daily paper.

A horrible blow to a colorful city known for it’s local politics. And this after the town had been knocked down by Katrina, followed by a body slam with the BP oil calamity.

Here’s what John Georges did about it. He bought a tiny paper, The New Orleans Advocate, and turned it into a daily with home delivery. Hired Pulitzer Prize winning journalists too. Expensive proposition. No telling if he’s gonna make money. Maybe he doesn’t care. But the town sure loves him for it.

Which brings me to Laguna. Two of our three weeklies are published by large, metro newspapers based elsewhere. They long ago pulled up roots in Laguna.

I don’t know about you, but I try and support local businesses. Starting with food, because I know its better for you. And artists too, because it’s better when musicians sing and painters paint of things you know. It’s better too when you can find unique, curated offerings in our local stores versus the homogeneity of chains. It’s what makes us charming and unique.

I’m not saying don’t patronize the other papers. They provide some balance and perspective.

But I choose to be part of the conversation. Where the letters are sent and the reader engagement is. Where on any occasion I may collide and even clash with staff and columnists around town, and we can debate the news of the day. We may not see eye to eye, but we can still go toe to toe with a lively exchange about the community in which we live.

And don’t think for a minute it’s for the money. There isn’t any. Precious few writers make any money in this industry. We do it because writing courses through our veins, and we are provided an outlet and audience for our expression – and yes, our egos too.

So I’m happy to be on the Indy team. Big stuff is happening in Laguna. I can’t wait to cover it. Mayor Can Do and Council just voted to close Forest Avenue to cars on a trial basis. Hallelujah. This could be the most transformative thing we can do to our town quickly – besides making it rain!


Billy Fried is the chief paddling officer at La Vida Laguna. He serves on the board of Transition Laguna, and hosts “Laguna Talks,” Thursdays at 8 p.m. on local radio station KX 93.5. 

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