We’ve been asked lots of questions over the last year.

Why Lookout?

Why now?

Why Santa Cruz?

We are glad that Lookout Santa Cruz itself, finally launched, will answer these and other questions. But we know that questions remain. Here’s a quick Q&A of the questions we’re hearing the most. Feel free to send others to news@lookoutlocal.com.

Let’s start with the basics:

Why Lookout?

It’s bad out there. The local news business everywhere is reeling, and not just in the U.S. It’s bad worldwide, as the local print newspaper business, further wounded by COVID-driven shutdowns, continues on a steep downhill slide. Yet, people need local news more than ever, to assess their governments and schools, solve tough problems and improve their communities.

At Lookout, we believe that local news must be reinvented, and we’ve done that, with more than a year’s planning and by hiring a spirited group of journalists and businesspeople to do that reinvention right.

That’s the short answer. For more, see Ken Doctor’s Founder’s Note and/or Executive Editor Chris Fusco’s video.

Why now?

We launch into a year of anxiety, uncertainty and rebuilding. That’s not usually the ideal climate for a new business. Yet, we’ve already been told by many, our work is more needed than ever. The nation, under a new president and potentially setting a new direction, needs to see the revival of local news as we shape the 2020s together.

Why Santa Cruz?

We’ve described it to many outsiders as “Paradise with problems.” Santa Cruz sits, usually happily, on the increasingly pristine Monterey Bay. Life is good here — but not for everybody, and not as good as it was even a year ago, as COVID-19, furious fires and economic devastation have made life much harder for many. Santa Cruz County stands on a precipice at the brink of 2021, peering into a rebuilding that is daunting. Lookout intends to tell the story of this time in this place, at a time when authentic storytelling is required.

Santa Cruz is the hometown of Lookout founder Ken Doctor, and — as both a news desert and a vibrant, intelligent community — it serves as an ideal first launch point for the Lookout model.

What is Lookout’s business model? Why is membership important to Lookout?

We believe that paying members and satisfied marketing partners will sustain and grow Lookout’s news team. Our promise is to provide you with uniquely valuable content about your communities that’s worth supporting.

We’re set up as a public benefit corporation, a for-profit organization that ensures our mission of putting content and communities first will endure.

Lookout offers open access for our launch — paid for by key launch sponsors — until early 2021. Then, only members get complete access to all that Lookout offers.

Sign up now, and you’ll get both our great offer and give the community as a whole a boost.

We believe that you deserve professional journalism, brought you by dedicated, experienced editors and correspondents. That takes money, and you, dear readers, are the single best source of that funding. We do our reporting, to the old truism, without fear or favor; and we report for you and for the community. In business terms, we believe that membership — readers paying for the news they get — is the way of local news revival. In industry parlance, that’s “reader revenue”. We think it’s just common sense.

Why pay a Park Avenue (New York’s, not Soquel’s) hedge fund a hefty subscription fee for an outdated print newspaper, when you can pay one-third of that price for three times the journalism, brought to you by a local company?

That kind of support is the best route forward to the revival of news, as The New York Times has well proven. More than 70% of our expenses go toward paying our journalists. Your membership — and those of your friends — helps us do that.

Lookout membership is your pass to all-things Lookout! All our original content and newsletters, in-depth access to and communication with our correspondents and fellow members, behind-the-curtain experiences at our events (both virtual and in-person), perks from our partners, special ways to give back to community groups, and more. And, with our unique Civic Partners program, 10% of whatever you pay is given back to the county’s most effective community groups by Lookout.