Six months in, we at Lookout thank you
What a difference six months make.
It’s the difference between a what-could-happen-next resigned shrug of November and a hug of Santa Cruz spring. We’re all cautious about this new, optimistic reality, even as we carefully embrace it.
At Abbott Square, adjacent to Lookout’s first offices, we see it daily, as tables fill up earlier, and with more smiles (ah, the bottom of faces return) day by day. Last week, I experienced, unbelievably, my first (double-double-vaxxed) handshake of more than a year.
At Lookout, we’re celebrating. It’s our six-month anniversary and given our birth out of COVID and wildfire terrors and Zoom fatigue, we’re taking every opportunity to mark it.
First, we want to thank you, our readers. Your support has helped us build what is already Santa Cruz County’s biggest news company, serving the whole county, building it digital brick by digital brick, architecting it to last, to grow and to serve.
Our mission is on track: Make Santa Cruz County a better place for all who live here.
It’s our launch journalism that begins to define that.
Check out our best-collected work: Six months, 1,600 stories, one Lookout
As we launched into Lookout, we set upon a path of repopulating the news desert that Santa Cruz had become, like too many other places. Now, we all have a beginning sense of what re-population means: 1,600 stories, providing you with the best in local journalism alongside Santa Cruz-oriented state and national coverage from the Los Angeles Times, CalMatters and others. Most essentially, the great majority are stories we couldn’t read elsewhere. They include our still well-read ‘21 for ’21' series — focusing on the people who drive us forward as well as our early Access Democracy investigative work, produced in partnership with the First Amendment Coalition.
That work is making a difference, as we hear in conversations and in emails from you, and in the actions of public officials, who have reacted to Lookout’s reporting.
Now, our more than 11,500 registrants receive our two daily newsletters, the modern digital equivalent of the old daily newspaper, a number that amazingly surpasses — in six months — the daily print circulation of any local daily.
More than 460,000 people have visited Lookout already, reading almost a million articles in this short time span.
Soon, we will pass our first threshold of one thousand members, even though we only started charging for complete access three months ago. Three-quarters of our members have opted for annual memberships, investing in us as we invest in you. We’d love you to join us as a member, as we now enter our big take-off stage. And we’re making it easier to do that.
With our little anniversary, just use the discount code Lookout6Months on our membership sign-up page and feel free to share it with friends, family and associates. Lookout’s always a good deal, but with this offer, you’ll save 10% savings when you join us, anytime over the next week.
Membership payment supports our mission to the core. Because we are digital — not needing trucks, presses and all of the overhead that cuts into actually producing the news you want to read — we put 70% or more of your money directly into paying journalists.
Further, we’re proud to announce that we’ve cut our first checks to our Civic Partners.
With each and every membership our readers buy, we made a first-day tangible commitment to community betterment: 10% of every membership goes to one of these partners, currently Coastal Watershed Council, Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, DigitalNEST, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support, and Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County.
Those first checks total almost $7000, even in our infancy, a number our partners tell us that has real impact. “This contribution translates into just over 8430 meals in our community! What an impact! THANK YOU and thanks to your readers as well!,” Second Harvest’s Suzanne Willis told us.
This great beginning we intend as prologue. Our belief: If we can get off to this kind of start, the sky’s the limit of what we can do in the next year.
We’ll share more frequent announcements with you in the weeks and months to come, as we further build out Lookout -- and meet the new optimistic times with a fuller grasping of all that makes Santa Cruz County our own unique place in the world.
For now, let me greet two new Lookout team staffers.
Neil Strebig joined us just last week as our business and technology correspondent, at just the perfect time as the economic recovery becomes top of mind. He comes to us in our partnership with the fast-growing Report for America program; more on that soon as well. Drop him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
Neil brings our newsroom strength to 10. In addition, we’ve moved strongly forward with our internship program, working with both UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo. You’ve seen their bylines: Laurel Bushman, Max Chun and Cypress Hansen. We’re now glad to welcome Haneen Zain, current co-editor-in-chief of UCSC’s City on the Hill press, as our newest intern. We believe it’s part of our mission to provide a pipeline for the journalists and the local journalism that America needs so immensely.
We are also glad to announce a very familiar Santa Cruz face to the Lookout team: Matthew Swinnerton. As the creator of Event Santa Cruz, he’s focused on the new and emerging people and trends. From Lookout’s inception, we’ve seen how his mission orientation matched up so well with ours, and we have worked together on most of the half-dozen early forums we’ve hosted. Now, Matthew becomes Lookout’s Head of Events, and you’ll hear lots soon on our expanded roster of them.
And don’t forget to sign up for free for this Wednesday’s “One year later: In the 12 months since a racial reckoning, has anything really changed?” Zoom event. We are so glad to welcome our speakers, David H. Anthony, Cat Willis, Spike Wong, Maria Cadenas and Natalie Olivas — along with our event co-sponsor UCSC’s Humanities Institute.
We also want to thank Chris Fusco, our founding editor, for his work in our challenging liftoff. As he decided to move on beyond the rigors of through-the-day, always-on news, he set an early standard of quality that serves so well.
Life is change, and we’ll keep you up to date about our adventures, and comings and goings, as we all step back into the sunlight.