One year ago, my husband Josh Barousse and I started San José Spotlight with a small amount of savings, a painfully slow laptop and a big dream.
Two San Jose natives, sitting in Las Vegas, decided to bring a new model of community-supported journalism to our hometown. We were leaving our full-time jobs, living off savings and moving from a much cheaper state back to one of the most expensive places on the planet to start a nonprofit news organization. People thought we were crazy. They probably still do.
But one year later, I can say this was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. And thanks to the readers who believed that San Jose deserves more local, in-depth reporting and supported our vision to produce independent nonprofit journalism, we’ve grown the organization to a team of two full-time reporters, four freelance journalists and editorial interns who cover policy, politics and government in the heart of Silicon Valley.
We’ve earned the support of more than 1,500 individual donors, 750,000 readers and we’re on a path to reach 2 million pageviews by the end of the year. This does not happen without you, San Jose. Thank you.
And we’ll continue to keep our promise to you: To provide public service journalism that holds the powerful accountable, sheds light on injustice and searches for truth. Our stories have already made a big impact. We took you inside closed-door discussions about Google’s massive downtown development after tapes of those talks disappeared; we highlighted how a city ethics commission was at risk of dissolving because no one applied to serve on it, leading to new applications that saved it; we exposed the lack of ethnic and socioeconomic diversity on the Planning Commission, spurring a slew of proposed reforms; we revealed how the mayor failed to disclose a condo owned by his wife near the Google development; and we exposed how Santa Clara officials violated the city code with a questionable six-figure public relations contract.
But we’re just getting started. We have many exciting plans for expansion and new initiatives in our second year. Look how far we’ve come in just one year. Just think what we can accomplish together in the next year.
We need your support to continue producing the independent, nonprofit journalism San Jose deserves in 2020. In the last 10 days of 2019, we will be asking readers to make a monthly commitment to help keep San José Spotlight strong.
Thank you for making San José Spotlight’s first year a success. It has been an honor to serve our city and the readers who care deeply about San Jose. Let’s do it again.