Alliance for Sustainable Local News builds on new local news model success

The sun sets on Lighthouse Point and Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz
(Via Ryan Craig)

Our news of the week starts with this: You as Lookout members are now part of a fast-growing movement to revive trustworthy, substantial and modern local journalism across North America. And I wanted you to know about that first, before we announce it generally. Just 10 days ago, we brought together five other newer digital-only startups from Baltimore to Long Beach here in Santa Cruz. We spent two days sharing our triumphs and our pain points as we ate at Lupulo and Mozaic.

Out of that session, we announce today the Alliance for Sustainable Local News.

“Alliance for Sustainable Local News builds on new local news model success,” is the headline of our news release. The six fellow news sites all believe in the power of local news to make communities and people’s lives better. All together, these news companies — all dedicated to nonpartisan, deep local news and information — count more than 60,000 members and employ more than 275 full-time professional journalists and business-side people.

We’re all growing well, with Lookout the second-newest, at two years. The new Baltimore Banner, launched eight months ago, already counts 60 journalists as it competes with Baltimore Sun, which has seen deep staff cuts over the years. The Sun is owned by Alden Global Capital, the same hedge fund that owns the Santa Cruz Sentinel and is the second-largest daily publisher in the country, with more than 100 titles. It’s no accident that of the six, five have started in communities where Alden has greatly cut the local daily staff size and product.

You might recognize a couple of other peers. Four-year-old Daily Memphian covered the Tyre Nichols death there recently, and we were able to publish two of the Memphian’s stories, both offering that level of knowing local history that national cable news couldn’t.

Then there’s the Long Beach Post, which has become the go-to news source in that city of 500,000, also relaunched just less than five years ago. The Post’s Fernando Haro Garcia quickly won numerous bylines when he hopped up here on a flight from Long Beach to quickly pitch in on our January storms coverage.

Such cooperation is fundamental to our new group. Most important, we work together to bring our own communities, and the many more across the continent that need them, substantial, high-quality news operations able to match — and surpass — what the best dailies once did in their hometowns.

Rounding out our group are:

  • Block Club Chicago, a four-year-old, neighborhood-centric organization now serving a majority of Chicago’s neighborhoods and offering citywide reports.
  • Colorado Sun, a four-year old, statewide public benefit corporation focused strongly on the state’s policy and politics, environment, outdoors and serving the wider needs and interests of Coloradans.

My friend David Sommers, publisher of the Long Beach Post, may have summed up the kind of local impact we all intend: “Beyond becoming trusted news sources, we have created hundreds of new jobs within our communities. We are businesses returning to our cities and downtown cores — not retreating — bringing the economic benefits of job growth and new investment, which remains in the communities we cover and serve.”

Ken Doctor, Founder

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