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NUZ: Into the Santa Cruz Local Weeds

What we learn from listening to too many podcasts

Santa Cruz Local, the new media outfit and podcast launched by Kara Meyberg Guzman and Stephen Baxter, has been pulling back the curtain on how they do business. In the first installment of a new series called “Meet Santa Cruz Local,” former Santa Cruz Sentinel managing editor Meyberg Guzman said she wanted to be more transparent. 

In conversation, she mentioned that Baxter “really burned out” on journalism back in 2016 and then “took a break.” Baxter elaborated that his wife had a baby around that time. But if this was really all about transparency, Baxter should have added that he resigned shortly after he left a mean-spirited voicemail that got posted to Facebook and ignited controversy. 

But anyway, we were more interested in the survey responses from Santa Cruz Local listeners about what they want and where they get their information. Baxter reported that 85% of listeners said they want “news about city government and deeply reported investigative pieces.” Three-quarters of listeners get their news from the Sentinel, Baxter added, and half get news from word of mouth. Three-quarters also get their news from the social media site NextDoor

Wait, these listeners have been getting their information from the platform where xenophobes post phony facts about made-up plans for new homeless encampments, without checking anything, just to stir the pot?

Come on Santa Cruz Local listeners, Nuz is right here. What is it you want to know?

WEED BE REMISS

Speaking of podcasts, in a recent episode of The Weeds, journalist Matthew Yglesias interviewed Yale law professor David Schleicher about why local and state politics—a one-time respite of partisanship—have gotten so nasty as of late. In many ways, it’s a story of the rise of the decline of local media, as well as the rise of cable news and online media.

Back when news consumers had more local information, it was easier for them to vote for a liberal presidential candidate and a more conservative councilmember in the same election cycle, generally speaking. Those days are over. Voters increasingly pick local candidates based on partisan instincts, instead of local issues. “People have less information about local politics with which to distinguish whatever it is their city is doing from whatever it is the president is doing,” Schleicher explained.

This is all happening, of course, against the backdrop of an increasingly polarized national political landscape that’s dividing the electorate.

Makes you think, how many Santa Cruzans who love/hate councilmembers Drew Glover and Chris Krohn with every fiber of their being could explain why they feel so strongly?

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