Change is in the air at Lookout. A new Lookout office. An updated Lookout website. Increased student programming.
This fall has been a blur for all of us as we passed 1,000 days of publishing in Santa Cruz a couple of months ago. On Monday, we celebrated our third year, launching our enterprise Nov. 20, 2020, at a time of pandemic anxiety. Now our collective worries have only grown, even as COVID has receded, with strains of affordability and homelessness persistent here and political polarization, challenges to democracy and the outbreak of war afflicting the nation and the globe.
Through all of it, and whatever is to come, we’re glad (and thankful this week) to be here for you, reporting the breadth of news, information and life in Santa Cruz County. In those three years, our newsroom of 10 has brought you thousands of stories, most of them otherwise unwritten elsewhere. And faces, diverse faces, in our pages who you see nowhere else.
In just this past year, we’ve emphasized change, and the controversies swirling around it, in “Changing Santa Cruz,” our continuing series on the redevelopment underway across the city, anchored by Wallace Baine. Hillary Ojeda has given you the broadest and deepest reporting on the Cabrillo College name-change controversy, Watsonville Community Hospital’s twists and turns and the ongoing displacement of Pajaro residents after the awful flooding earlier this year. Lily Belli has been keeping you up to date on the unprecedented launch of new food businesses throughout the county — and the closures of several favorites. Max Chun is staying on top of so much for you, from weather to road construction (the new Carmageddon feature) to big pieces like the property dispute near Jackson Browne’s Aptos place. Christopher Neely has blown the whistle on illegal nominations made by local officials and his In the Public Interest Monday newsletter now covers local government more and more deeply.
Our Community Voices gives voice to many whose views would otherwise be unheard, on impactful concerns like continuing pesticide usage around schools in the Watsonville area, to troubling jail conditions to lots of takes on how we can better solve those seemingly intractable issues of high housing prices, mental health and opioid usage.
All of that work requires great editorial judgment, and we’re lucky to have managing editor Tamsin McMahon, Community Voices opinion editor Jody K. Biehl and Morning Lookout/copy editor Will McCahill meticulously making sure what you read each day is reported, written and presented to Lookout’s high standards.
The year ahead will challenge all of us as voters and as journalists. We’re putting the finishing touches on our Election ‘24 guides, stories and forums, and we are following the money as well.
All 15 of us — including those on our Community & Commerce business team — have moved to our new office on Pacific Avenue, right across from Bookshop Santa Cruz and Zoccoli’s Deli in downtown Santa Cruz — and as our people will exclaim, five excellent purveyors of coffee within three minutes. We’re an in-office crew, really a community “newspaper” that happens to be digital, now enjoying the light streaming in from the windows and skylights and the occasional sound of a lone violinist offering “Send In The Clowns” — afternoon after afternoon.
And we want you to visit! We invite our members and marketing partners to join us in our new digs to celebrate our birthday and move. Please mark Thursday, Dec. 7, 6-8 p.m. on your calendars to meet the team in our new office, enjoy some local food and drink and talk about the issues (and proposed fun) in the year ahead. LOOKOUT MEMBERS PLEASE RSVP HERE.
As we launch into 2024, we also launch an updated look for Lookout’s website, planned for next week. It will look like us — only better. We have made a bunch of tweaks to our website, all of them intended to make it easier to display our increasing volume of through-the-day news on your phone (where 60% of you find us) and on laptops and desktops. We are also making it easier to find what you want — whether that’s our longstanding politics and policy, education, arts or food coverage or all the new features we added earlier this fall. Those additions include Laurie Love on Wine, Jessica M. Pasko on local economic and business news, Claudia Sternbach on aging in Santa Cruz and Thomas Frey on high school sports.
Lastly, for now, one more heads up. Jamie Garfield, our incredible organizer, has built an impactful local news program, Lookout In The Classroom in Santa Cruz City Schools, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, the County Office of Education and beyond. It now involves more than 6,000 high school students, who are all provided free access to local news through generous donations. Lookout offers local media literacy and civics lesson plans in our schools. All in all, it is a growing program, one that is unique in the country. Now we want to extend it even further. Today we launch the Teacher Access Fund, enabling free access to public high school teachers — among the many civil servants squeezed by our ranking as the nation’s least affordable community. If you are inclined to support Lookout in the Classroom and provide memberships to our local high school teachers, please donate today.
May this holiday week bring you a respite of peace in a busy and nervous world.