This Is The Work: Becoming “Scout”

Building an award-winning, community-changing free and independent local news service will require all of us to get involved. Are you with me?

A few weeks ago, I stood on a hotel stage in Austin, Texas, as Shasta Scout was named New Business of the Year among LION’s 400 independent news publishers.

Hearing the cheers for Scout erupt across a room full of hundreds of news leaders and funders was a surreal experience. It was clear from the out-sized audience response that somehow, over this crazy first eighteen months, Shasta Scout has won the hearts of many across the national independent media community. 

Judges remarks from the LION Journalism Awards.

More importantly, over the last few months it’s become increasingly clear that we’re also winning the hearts of our local community. These days when I’m out and about in our community, monitoring poll sites, attending public meetings, or simply walking my dog at the Sundial Bridge, it’s not usual to have strangers walk up and ask, “You’re Scout, right?!” 

Becoming “Scout,” the public face of our local news organization, has been a life-changing journey. Over the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been integral to almost every part of the work at Shasta Scout, from filing state documents to handling sexual assault investigations, from checking the post office box to sharing our work in person with executive funders at Google.

On any single day, I often wear a dozen hats as I multitask to keep this one-woman news show running. I’m Scout’s audience engagement manager, the person who responds to all your emails and direct messages on social media. I’m our lead reporter covering stories ranging from housing to religion and everywhere in between. And I’m Scout’s revenue development manager, hustling for grants and beginning to build partnerships with local businesses. 

(Until recently I was also Scout’s office administrator, financial manager, and news collaborations coordinator, but I’m so grateful to say that your financial support this year has allowed me to start handing off a few of those tasks to our newly contracted 10 hour/week operations manager. Phew! And can’t wait to introduce you all to Heather!)

I want to be clear: I’m not alone in the hustle. This is the work. As all entrepreneurs know, whether they run a for-profit business or a nonprofit news service like Shasta Scout, success starts with sheer effort and energy and passion and persistence. And success grows only if you are lucky enough to surround yourself with people who care about the mission almost as much as you do and are willing to sacrifice to help bring it to life.

When I write or speak about Shasta Scout I usually use the pronoun “we.”  Recently more people have been asking who the “we” is and I’ve had to come clean and admit that it’s still mostly just “me.”  I was sheepishly sharing this with a reader recently, whose response really moved me.

“It’s not just you, Annelise. Never say it’s just you. You’ve made sure that Shasta Scout is for all of us. And we’re all here with you, building it.”

Cue all the tears. The truth is, I’m not alone. There’s a whole community gathering around me in this work. Hearing that people feel really included in this powerful community-changing public-service news mission makes the long days so worth it for me. Despite the lack of sleep and paychecks, I feel tremendously lucky to be building something this important, in community with all of you. 

There are so many ways you can be a part of our news service, from sending story tips to sending a kind DM on Instagram. From opening our emails to sharing our stories with your social media networks. And of course, by giving financially. Many people don’t realize that small $10/month donations by hundreds of local readers is what makes the news possible. 

If you’re willing and able to give, this is the very best time. We’re working with NewsMatch, a project of the Miami Foundation, to match all November and December reader donations up to a total of $19,000. That means in the month ahead we have the potential to earn $38,000 to fund an additional reporter, bringing you even more stories next year at Shasta Scout.

To extend our reader donations even farther, we’re also partnering with local community organizations and businesses to triple those matches, a big opportunity for your donation to help grow our one-woman newsroom.

We’re in our crucial second year with a roadmap in place for significant and sustainable growth in the next year. When you donate to Shasta Scout, you’re keeping independent, non-partisan news free for our entire community. Plus, having your donations tripled this month by generous donors is a pretty amazing deal. Are you with me? Donate here.

40% of goalWe are at 40% of the goal!

(And if you spot me out and about in our community, please come say hi. I answer to both Annelise and Scout and I would truly love to meet you, hear how our news service has impacted you, and get your feedback on how we can make what we do even better. Don’t be shy!)

As a reader-funded outlet, we rely on donations to fund our work and keep our content paywall free. Do you support free online news in Shasta County?

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