Our mission: To provide cross-cultural feature writing and bold investigative reporting in the Chico area of the Northern Sacramento Valley.
ChicoSol is a not-for-profit news organization covering issues overlooked by traditional media that are starved for resources and unable to provide the in-depth coverage investigative reporting produces. We provide a digital platform and partner with other outlets to distribute our work. Our stories span cultural borders, including those related to race, ethnicity, immigration status, language and class, and examine how power and policy affect the most vulnerable communities.
We follow the stories that often get dropped by print newspapers as we seek those who are accountable and those who can help find ways to address the community’s most vexing problems. In short, we believe that fact-based journalism nourishes democracy, that truth is sunlight. We distribute a new issue the last week of each month to all who have joined our subscription list.
- To provide in-depth features that encourage and enlarge community discourse;
- Provide investigative reporting in the community’s interest;
- Mentor student journalists and provide a publication outlet for young writers.
Subscribe now with a 2022 donation to our NVCF fund. To find out more about becoming a subscribing member, scroll down to “Become a member.”
Past & future
ChicoSol was launched in 2007 by Henri Flores and Leslie Layton, initially serving as a bilingual classroom teaching tool. Leslie was then an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Journalism at California State University, Chico, and a freelance writer. It rapidly evolved into a bridge between the campus and community and soon began publishing professional writers as well as student journalists as a digital platform.
We developed a readership in the community through a free subscription system and published stories in both English and Spanish. ChicoSol became part of the New America Media (NAM) national ethnic-media network that has since terminated operation. We continue to collaborate with Ethnic Media Services (EMS) because we believe that delivering information to minority audiences is crucial in a state as diverse as California. ChicoSol is able to accept tax-deductible donations as a fund under the North Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) umbrella.
Dozens of ChicoSol stories have been reprinted by or published in partnership with the Chico News & Review, and dozens of our stories have reached a broader audience after being reprinted by NAM, EMS or other media outlets.
ChicoSol has been a leader in the community in nonprofit journalism and digital publishing, flourishing in part because the for-profit print model is in trouble and readers are seeking alternative outlets.
We worked for several years as a media partner with ProPublica on its important Documenting Hate database and reporting project, and were pleased to become a media partner of KIXE last year to help promote the station’s “Third Thursday Film & Discussion” series.
In 2017, ChicoSol built a membership program to grow and sustain the vital investigative reporting and feature writing we provide. Some of our members donate monthly; we thank all who have made generous contributions to this enterprise.
In March 2016, we co-sponsored an immigration information fair with Orland Unified School District, OneJustice, Legal Services of Northern California and other nonprofit organizations.
Who drives ChicoSol:
Leslie Layton, editor: Leslie is a bilingual freelance journalist who has worked extensively in both Mexico and California. Her writing has been published in Business Week, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, and other major and local newspapers and magazines. She has a Master’s degree in communication from Stanford University and spoke in 2017 as a presenting panel member at the Investigative Reporters & Editors annual conference in Phoenix, AZ.
Lindajoy Fenley is a contributing editor for ChicoSol and belongs to the ChicoSol Advisory Group. Lindajoy is a bilingual writer and teacher who worked as a financial journalist in Mexico City.
Dave Waddell is our former news director and contributes investigative reporting. Dave is a professor emeritus in the Chico State Department of Journalism and worked for 20 years for daily newspapers before joining the CSUC faculty and becoming adviser to the award-winning student newspaper, “The Orion.”
Natalie Hanson is an Oakland-based journalist who is a contributing writer to ChicoSol. Natalie has a political science degree with a focus on international relations from Chico State University. She has been honored with awards from the California News Publishers’ Association, including with first places in reporting on local government and on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen Laslo is an experienced freelance photojournalist and local blogger who contributes photography.
Become a member of the ChicoSol community and help sustain our work
Becoming a subscribing member means you are standing up for free and independent journalism at a time when print newspapers are folding or cutting resources. Your contributions make it possible for ChicoSol to operate without corporate advertising. Your support makes our work possible, and we believe, makes Chico a better informed community. Click here now to become a member of the border-crossing news community by making a deposit.
To donate by check, write a check to ChicoSol c/o NVCF and mail it to NVCF at The Foundation Building, 1811 Concord Ave., Ste. 22, Chico, CA 95928.
Fellowships and Honors
ChicoSol recently was recognized for stories posted in 2020 in four categories in the annual Journalism Awards contest run by California News Publishers Association (CNPA).
Leslie Layton’s reporting that began with the story, “Butte County Latinos hit hardest by the pandemic” placed third in two separate categories — coverage of the pandemic (health reporting) and public service journalism.
Layton’s story, “An election ends Gridley’s political slumber” placed fifth in the category for local coverage of the 2020 election.
Dave Waddell’s story, “Conflict of interest in Stephen Vest killing probe?” placed fifth in investigative reporting.
A 2019 series by Dave Waddell on law enforcement killings won first place in the In-Depth reporting category in the CNPA contest. The series also garnered two fourth-place awards in the investigative and public service categories.
Waddell also won first place in Land-Use Reporting for his 2019 story on the proposed Sites reservoir.
Leslie Layton won second place in Feature Story for her reporting on local attorney Sergio Garcia, who was an undocumented immigrant when he passed the Bar Exam.
NAM Ethnic Media reporting honor “CSUC Grad Awaits ICE Decision”2010
John Swett award “The New Segregation” 2010 in collaboration with the Chico News & Review
Articles about ChicoSol
“Teaching Tool: Reporting via ChicoSol.org,” Inside Chico State, Feb. 15, 2016
“Shining a Light on ChicoSol,” Chico News & Review, July 3, 2008
“Small-town journalist, trailblazer: Leslie Layton,” April 29, 2022