This story was produced as part of the Democracy Day journalism collaborative, a nationwide effort to shine a light on the threats and opportunities facing American democracy. Read more at usdemocracyday.org.
We launched Shasta Scout in 2021 with a dream to tell in-depth, investigative stories. We wanted to produce journalism that dug deep into local affairs to reveal the abuses of power, systemic failures and long-term inequities that affect our community every day.
Along the way, we’ve realized that telling stories that build democracy requires more than thoughtful, detailed, factual reporting. It requires a commitment to journalistic structures and processes that safeguard the community’s interests. And it means pressing in to the hard work of engaging with all kinds of people, often across deep ideological divides, to build trust in the news we produce.
At Shasta Scout, we’re working one tip, one document request, one interview, and one story at a time, to strengthen our local community and our democracy.
Here’s what that’s looked like over the last few months at Shasta Scout.
We’ve documented the facts:
- We’ve acknowledged how science changes
- We’ve documented threats to abortion access
- We’ve helped explain what motivates “constitutional” candidates
- We’ve called out racism
- We’ve provided education on misinformation
- We’ve told the truth about public health
- We’ve fact-checked calls for “patriotism”
- We’ve explained the insidious nature of hate
- We provided insight into governmental processes
- We’ve made sense of California water complexities
We’ve highlighted diversity:
- We’ve centered Indigenous perspectives
- We’ve shared the stories of substance use
- We’ve celebrating spirituality
- We’ve advocated for shelter
- We’ve explained “land back”
- We’ve documenting ground-breaking collaboration
- We’ve shared about important cultural practices
We’ve told the truth about power:
- We’ve revealed threats to the separation of church and state
- We’ve dug deep into the processes of a local water board
- We’ve connected the importance of federal law to local housing policies
- We’ve questioned the national media
- We’ve told the truth about mistakes by city staff
- We’ve scrutinized federal officials
- We’ve revealed the complexity of philanthropy
- We’ve questioned the faithful
We’re working to build your trust:
- We’re collaborating through surveys
- We’re welcoming your stories
- We’re correcting our mistakes
- We’re revealing our biases
- We’re explaining governmental processes
- We’re participating in research to combat polarization
Building democracy through the local news is about much more than reporting on violent speech and aggressive behavior at county board meetings, although that certainly matters. It’s about listening to people’s stories and concerns and working to separate truth from perception so we can report on both.
It’s about attending often long and boring public meetings about planning and water and military equipment because policies around these dry topics really matter, to all of us. It’s about finding news ways to fund local news. It’s about making connections across the national network of individuals and organizations working to support an independent and democratic press. It’s about learning to collaborate with our community to tell the stories that matter in a way that can change things.
Ongoing research highlighted by the Democracy Fund shows the impact that strong local journalism can have. Access to quality local news, the research indicates, increases voter turnout, grows connections in community, and decreases polarization. Studies have also shown that every dollar spent on local news produces hundreds of dollars in public benefit by exposing corruption and monitoring government spending.
It turns out building democracy through local media is a lot harder than we ever expected. And a lot more satisfying than we would have believed.
Thank you for being part of the Scout community. Thank you for reading and engaging with independent local news. Thank you for your financial support and words of encouragement. Thank you for showing up at our events, watching our Instagram stories, and trusting us with your off-the-record interviews. Thank you for being our community.
Together, we’re building democracy. One story at a time.
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