Editorial: We Build Democracy By Telling The Truth About Power, Our Diverse Community and Ourselves

We’re producing strong, independent journalism that holds the powerful accountable and centers the stories of diverse community members. We know the strength of our American democracy depends not only on providing in-depth, accurate information, but also on ensuring our community seeks out and trusts the news we share.
Redding locals gathered at City Hall in August to talk with city officials about updates to the Riverfront Specific Plan.

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 highlighted diversity:

We’ve told the truth about power:

We’re working to build your trust:

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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