Hank Sims, editor of the Lost Coast Outpost in Humboldt County (Calif.), is using his expertise to make high-demand information easily accessible.
Sims is a writer/programmer combination. His experience lends itself to the mission Lost Coast Outpost (LoCo), where information is presented to its community audience in an innovative and no-nonsense manner.
Sims was the only person who started the online publication’s startup-esque Cinderella tale. Sims said that he began writing investigative pieces but realized that he had to adapt his tactics in order to grow LoCo’s online presence.
Hank Sims is the editor
This idea helped LoCo to become a news source. LoCo provides the first-stop news source in Humboldt County for local news that is timely and digestible.
- LoCo now has four members on its editorial staff, Sims included, as well as sales and management staff.
- This Northern California county, with approximately 130,000 inhabitants, is five hours from San Francisco. However, it has a vibrant media scene.
- Sims states, “There is an island mentality.” “We turn inward and rely on ourselves to create our culture.”
- That strong participation is evident at Lost Coast Outpost’s website, where hundreds of comments flood in every day.
Sims states that “Humboldt County has a lot of interest in itself.” LoCo offers members a platform to express themselves. “The medium allows people to gather around an old water cooler. You encourage that medium strength is used to your advantage.
- Sims said that LoCo provides the platform and the information people need, but also uses voice to communicate their ideas.
- Here’s an example headline: “:( The Sequoia Park Zoo’s Baby Red Panda is Moving To Dumb Ol’ Iowa”
- Sims states, “We have a voice people can respond to.” Sims says, “It’s okay for other people have a voice.”
- Sims believes it is common to forget that journalism is all about reporting facts and adding a personal touch. He says that this style doesn’t work well with LoCo’s online media.
- He said, “If you want to be a communicator you need jokes and sometimes you need pathos.” It’s okay to write.
- Sims’ programming experience allows him to understand how to get people talking. Sims is a self-described “native of the medium.”
Sims created a coded script to support two sections of the LoCo site, Booked and Juried. These hubs provide information about the location and time of local arrests, case decisions, and aggregated data from the local police department.
- He stated that there is great value in communicating government information to the public in an approach that is at least slightly smarter than how government does it.
- What’s the next step for LoCo? Sims claims they are growing rapidly. Sims said that the site recently hired an investigative reporter to cover politics and government.
- Sims claims that the site is a success and will continue to climb because LoCo uses the strengths of the medium.
- He said, “We are not taking the bulk of the old media with us.” LoCo does not pay for any printing or paper distribution. Its monthly infrastructure costs are actually $50 Only $50
- Sims claims this allows Lost Coast Outpost be “lean, mean”, and to cultivate a skill set and understanding of how to develop things for a specific audience.
Lost Coast Outpost
Humboldt County Public Health today reported 72 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people who have been tested positive to the virus to 11,805. Two additional hospitalizations were reported, one for a resident in his 50s and the other for a resident in his 70s.
A small number of positive COVID-19 samples from primary health care workers tested this week by Humboldt County Public Health Lab indicate that Omicron variants are increasing in the community. This is part of the ongoing monitoring. Omicron cases have been confirmed by additional samples from the state since late December and early January.
Health officials are urging people to be more attentive to hospitalizations than to positive cases as the pandemic continues. They also say that boosters and vaccinations offer greater protection against Omicron, Delta, and other variants. Individuals who have been fully vaccinated/boosted tend to experience milder symptoms, less severe illness, and fewer hospitalizations. Hospitalizations in the local area are still 17 times higher for those who have not been vaccinated.
Public Health officials insist that residents, particularly those who are not vaccinated, protect themselves and their families against all COVID-19 variants. This includes following the mask requirements in public settings, social distancing, and being vaccinated or enhanced when possible.