Not sure why it took me so long to become a member of Lookout Santa Cruz. Wallace Baine would have been reason enough to do it. He’s been covering entertainment in Santa Cruz as long as I’ve been providing it: in the Sentinel, the Good Times, and now Lookout Santa Cruz. The very first time he interviewed me it was about the state of live theater in Santa Cruz. It was 1994 and the article in the Sentinel was accompanied by a photo of me that was supposed to look pensive but wound up looking more like I was picking my nose. See above photo.

The online-ness of Lookout Santa Cruz was a count against it. I’m old school. Walking out to the driveway every morning to pick up my paper, check the weather, and grunt a quick morning-breath “Morning!” to the dog walkers was a routine I cherished. Sitting at the table with my cup of green tea and toast and flipping through the paper was a routine I cherished. Santa Cruz Sentinel on weekdays, New York Times on Sundays. But then the Sentinel became thinner and thinner and mostly regurgitated Associate Press. Still, I hung in for Schmuel Thayer’s photos. But then I found I could view them on Facebook so I let go of my subscription. But I stuck with my chunky Sunday New York Times, planning to make it last all week. Alas, that plan was foiled by distribution. If I got my Sunday paper at all, it was often the previous week’s so I’d have to go online to report it, which meant getting onto my computer which was exactly the thing I was trying to avoid. Ultimately, I bit the bullet and got the New York Times App for my iPad mini.

Welcome, Clifford, to world of online news! And it was going well enough, except I was beginning each day with war, corruption, way too many articles about our last president, and more war. It was depressing! Where was my local news? The news that affected my daily life?

As you may have gathered, I don’t do TV news. I don’t like the whole spin and spew, the beautiful anchors dispensing their horrible news. I like to have control over what I take in. Reading allows me to be discerning. So what to do?

Fun Fact: “The decline of local newspapers accelerated so rapidly in 2023 that analysts now believe the U.S. will have lost one-third of the newspapers it had as of 2005 by the end of next year — rather than in 2025, as originally predicted.” Axios

Once I’d made the leap to online news, the leap to Lookout Santa Cruz was easy. The membership fees are totally affordable, the writing excellent, and it arrives daily via my inbox. What’s not to like? Recently, I read an article in Lookout that helped me clarify the issues surrounding Santa Cruz’s lack of housing and the multi-storied buildings popping up everywhere. It’s such a complex issue, and the article dove deep. There was an interesting article too about the rash of burglaries of cannabis operations. Who knew? And Wallace’s interviews with local artists are, as always, top notch, as is the writing of the rest of the staff. Special shoutout to Hillary Ojeda.

And while I still read the New York Times, because I do think it’s important to track what’s going on in the big big world, here’s the thing I’m finally getting. Local news is just as important—if not more so. Local news is about things that directly affect my life, and things I can have an affect on. Local news gives me agency. Local news is about my neighbors, and neighborhood. I’m sure it’s not easy to keep the news coming, but Lookout Santa Cruz has made it three years—and is going strong. They even have a brand-new office right on Pacific Avenue above that fancy kitchen store, Toque Blanche. And, lucky me, they have kindly offered to host a wine and cheese gathering right before my book launch of Bait and Witch at Bookshop Santa Cruz on January 18. And you’re invited! You can come see their new space and the wall of Santa Cruz News history, which is fascinating.

So, that’s it for today. I would love to hear your ruminations of the current state of the news sources. And remember: Live the love! It’s all we’ve got.