Access Democracy

Access Democracy is Lookout Local’s initiative to increase the amount of investigative and accountability watchdog journalism we can do.

In this vital and growing initiative, we partner with the First Amendment Coalition, the Bay Area-based, award-winning, nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to advancing free speech, more open and accountable government, and public participation in civic affairs. The Lookout Santa Cruz newsroom and the First Amendment Coalition have begun meeting regularly on ways to unearth public records and do deep reporting for the Santa Cruz community.

Among those stories:

Were shaky finances behind PVUSD superintendent’s firing? Hastily deleted post reveals tension

Watsonville Community Hospital under new management, but veil of secrecy surrounds who’s really in charge

Two PVUSD trustees cited ‘death threats’ amid Michelle Rodriguez saga. Days later, none reported

With ‘no relief in sight,’ Santa Cruz leaders seek Newsom’s help on homelessness amid Highway 1 snafu

Supporting Lookout’s work from the First Amendment Coalition is attorney Sherene Tagharobi.

Sherene joined the First Amendment Coalition as a legal fellow in June 2020. An attorney and Emmy-nominated former journalist, she is passionate about FAC’s mission of promoting and defending the First Amendment freedoms of speech and the press through her work with Lookout.

She previously worked for the law firm Nixon Peabody, where she represented individuals and businesses in complex litigation and government investigation matters. She earned her J.D. from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and a dual B.A. from the University of Southern California in Broadcast Journalism and International Relations, as well as a minor certificate in Spanish.

Sherene Tagharobi
(Sherene Tagharobi

Before law school, Sherene spent six years working as an on-air television news reporter and producer, starting at WILX-TV in Lansing, Michigan, before stints at WWMT-TV in West Michigan and KNSD-TV in San Diego. She then worked as a field producer for ABC News, covering the San Bernardino terrorist attack, the 2016 killing of five Dallas police officers, and the “Stairway to Heaven” copyright trial. Her reporting earned an Emmy nomination and a first place award in the investigative/enterprise category from the Society of Professional Journalists, San Diego Pro Chapter.

She speaks Spanish and Farsi and is a member of the Iranian American Bar Association.