National grant goes to Seattle Foundation and Crosscut undertaking
by Joe Copeland
The John S. and James Knight Foundation has awarded The Seattle Foundation a new grant that will support continuing expansions of Crosscut’s coverage of community issues.
The Knight Foundation, which has emerged as a major funder of innovative journalism projects, announced grants of $3.1 million to 19 community and regionally based foundations around the country to use in support of local news and information projects. The grant to The Seattle Foundation is for $185,000.
The Seattle Foundation said the grant will help it increase the amount of coverage of important local pressing issues through its newly redesigned website. TSF’s Vice President of Grantmaking & Knowledge Management Jared Watson said, “It is especially timely given the recent launch of our new website, which reinforces our commitment to greater information sharing with our community. With this grant, we’ll be able to provide even more timely information to the King County region through our partnership with Crosscut.”
Crosscut Publisher David Brewster said, “The joint program will deepen Crosscut’s coverage and range of voices, provide intense and objective coverage of certain urgent topics of public interest, and offer new ways for readers to become ‘contributors’ — learning more about an issue, discovering ways to help solve these problems, and participating in solutions.”
The grant will help launch an expansion of op-ed articles on Crosscut with a wide range of community voices. Crosscut plans to hire a community editor, whose duties will include coordinating material to appear on both its and Seattle Foundation’s web sites and bringing to wider attention the views of young people, members of ethnic communities, and other “unheard voices.”
The Seattle Foundation also said: “The grant activities will also focus on creating ‘Spotlight Projects’ that will receive comprehensive and objective coverage of an issue of hot debate, creating a “go to” place for information on the topic with avenues to express opinions and help shape debate on the topic. Online action tools will also be created that will run at the end of most news stories linking to relevant places on the TSF website so that readers can learn more, research organizations to join or donate to, and develop networks of engaged citizens.”
The Knight grant requires both Crosscut and The Seattle Foundation to come up with matching funds during the grant’s two years.
As traditional media have struggled, the Knight Foundation has played a leading role nationally in encouraging both the preservation of strong journalistic values and practices in local communities and in encouraging greater sharing of information and ideas through new electronic means of publication. The grants announced Monday (Sept. 13) are the third round in the Knight Community Information Challenge, which encourages foundations to help meet local information needs. Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation, said The Seattle Foundation and other recipients will help “residents have the information they need to make important decisions about their communities. Ultimately, our democracy will only thrive if we have informed and engaged communities.”