One of Santa Cruz Local’s main goals is to help Santa Cruz County residents get informed and civically engaged. Our vision is that when we are all watching and engaged in our local government, our needs are addressed, democracy works better and our community is stronger.

Our journalism is designed to help inform and engage locals.

  • Our news stories explain big decisions in local government.
  • Our Sunday newsletter outlines big upcoming decisions in local government and how to get involved.
  • We create in-depth, nonpartisan local election guides that explain how candidates stand on issues important to residents. The guides also detail ballot measures and how to participate in the election.
  • We have a Guide to Local Government about how local government works and how to get involved.

We want our news to be useful and relevant to Santa Cruz County residents. We dedicate significant staff time and money to listening to residents. We constantly ask residents about what information or resources they need. We do this through: 

  • Surveys with our current audience.
  • Focus groups with community organizations.
  • Interviews and open “listening sessions” at places like farmers markets, cafes, food distributions, and festivals.

The themes we hear from Santa Cruz County residents guide our newsroom’s focus. We call this process “community engagement.”

We are committed to earning your trust and producing local news that’s valuable to you. We conducted a Santa Cruz Local impact survey in December to help us understand if our work helps residents get informed and civically engaged and how we could improve.

Some of the big questions that we tried to measure:

  • Does our work help Santa Cruz County residents become more engaged with local government?
  • Are we earning trust from residents?
  • Is our work useful and valuable to residents? How?

We conducted a similar study in 2021.

What we heard

We heard from 117 residents from Dec. 7-12.

Engagement with local government

  • 93% of respondents discussed topics from Santa Cruz Local reporting with their friends or family.
  • 15% attended a local government meeting because of Santa Cruz Local reporting.
  • 21% wrote to an elected official after listening to or reading a Santa Cruz Local story.
  • 85% researched a topic further that they learned about from Santa Cruz Local. 
  • 8% were inspired to participate in public service such as run for office or serve on a commission. 

Trust from residents

  • 79% of respondents said they agreed with the statement: I find Santa Cruz Local’s work to be balanced, in-depth, honest and reputable. 15% were neutral and 6% disagreed.
  • 82% of respondents said they agreed with the statement: Santa Cruz Local’s goal is to be fair, and their agenda is to serve the community. 13% were neutral and 5% disagreed.
  • 92% of survey respondents rated their trust in Santa Cruz Local’s reporting as 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10. One respondent gave a score lower than 5.

Is our work useful and valuable to residents?

I love everything you guys are doing and really support the cause.  I really appreciate the in-depth reporting that you do on subjects that are very important to the community like elections, housing, homelessness, wildfires, etc.” —Nico Chiarito

“One of the most thoughtful pieces Santa Cruz Local reported was the sad state of the North Coast farmworkers who are facing retirement without housing (which had been provided when they were working).  If my tax dollars are to support the unhoused then I want farmworkers at the top of the list.  Please do more stories about the hardworking people who don’t have reasonably priced rent or homes to live in.”  —Pamela Kearby

“I’m very grateful for your coverage of local government.” —Dianne Dryer

“Excellent journalism.” —Tina Mazzei

“Keep reporting as you do. As a long-time Santa Cruz City Clerk, I know things aren’t always what they seem. Keep digging, and find the truth.” Tom Graves

What if Santa Cruz Local didn’t exist?

“I’d have a little harder time knowing what’s going on with local government.” Michael Levy

“We would lose a good source of information about what local issues are coming up at local government meetings.” Trink Praxel

“Lack of in-depth, unbiased credible reporting would be a huge loss.” Linda Dyson Weaver

“Updates on our local government issues would get less attention.” Donna Ramos

We asked residents to list words that describe Santa Cruz Local.

Words to describe Santa Cruz Local

Words that were used more frequently to describe Santa Cruz Local appear larger in this word cloud. Our goal is for residents to describe our work along these themes: balance, honesty, depth, reader agency, professionalism, simplicity and relevance. 

What can Santa Cruz Local do to better earn your trust?

“Keep at it!” —Susan True

“I appreciate the more in-depth reporting, but feel it could go deeper and be more “hard hitting.” I know it is difficult with current budgets and staff numbers, etc. etc. But things happen for a reason, and we need to try to understand those reasons. I have felt your coverage to be the most independent so far, but as you know, I have my concerns. I encourage more coverage of the ongoing and intensifying climate crisis and the ways our city and county can contribute to solutions.” Ami Chen Mills

“Keep interviewing unhoused people.” Elisabeth Kooi

Next steps

We plan to conduct a similar survey about once a year. We will continuously ask for feedback.

Our goal is to help Santa Cruz County residents to get informed and civically engaged. 

In 2023, we plan to release a news product for Spanish speakers in South County. We want to ask similar questions to our Spanish-speaking audience about trust, engagement, and how we can improve.

Does this report resonate with you? We are open to feedback, questions, and ideas. Contact us at [email protected].

—Natalya Dreszer

Stay informed on Santa Cruz County’s biggest issues.

Santa Cruz Local’s newsletter breaks down complex local topics and shows residents how to get involved.

Questions or comments? Email [email protected]. Learn more about Santa Cruz Local and how we are funded. Santa Cruz Local is supported by members, major donors, sponsors and grants for the general support of our newsroom. Our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

Santa Cruz Local’s news is free. We believe Santa Cruz County is stronger when everyone has access to fair and accurate information. Our newsroom relies on locals like you for financial support. Our members make regular contributions, starting at $19 a month or $199 year.