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Crosscut's new publisher talks of his plans

New energy, new initiatives, and what you can do to help in this community-driven venture.
Greg Shaw, Crosscut's new publisher/CEO

Greg Shaw, Crosscut's new publisher/CEO

I am delighted to add my fresh hands to the more weathered ones on the Crosscut saw. What David Brewster and others started five years ago aspires to accomplish two things in the face of great odds. First, to think and write about a region of the world that has captured the imagination of business, government, and cultural leaders everywhere.  Second, as one of the few nonprofit, high-quality journalism organizations in the country, it is helping to define a new business model that gives hope to readers, editors, journalists, advertisers, and (dare I say it) democracies everywhere.

Journalism, news reporting really, was all I ever wanted to do as kid growing up in Oklahoma. I worked as a stringer while still in high school for my hometown newspaper, the Tulsa World. I paid for college working for the local daily, and my first job was as a writer and editor of the Cherokee Advocate, the tribal newspaper for the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.  I went on to write speeches for the U.S. Department of the Interior and eventually found my way out West to help lead communications at Microsoft. For the past nearly nine years I have been a leader at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Going back to journalism is a dream come true, and my enthusiasm for building a place where some of the West’s best writers, thinkers and artists publish will not be sufficient.  We need to look no further than New Orleans or the thinning of newspapers everywhere to see just how trying these times are. While many are fleeing journalism I find myself returning to it.

Crosscut has made no secret of its struggles to raise money in order to survive, much less to become the sustainable news organization this region needs and deserves.  I am committed to doing all that I can. Our situation is not desperate, but it is urgent.  Recent financial commitments to Crosscut are encouraging but not yet sufficient.

As the incoming publisher, I have several immediate priorities.

•To engage our community — members, advertisers, and donors — in developing a strategic vision and plan for Crosscut.

•To shape and help guide the editorial vision, including working with our talented stable of editors and writers as well new editors, writers, and artists we hope to attract. 

•To demonstrate later this Fall our commitment to greater editorial depth and focus, and to  the technology and social media that are expected of any Pacific Northwest product.

Wherever I go in the world, people are genuinely interested to learn that I come from Seattle.  They want to know what is in the water here that produces Pearl Jam, Amazon, the Hutch, software, coffee, notable authors, and hipster trends. I believe a competitive journalistic environment has been and is central to this success.  But our region can do better, and excellent journalism is a critical ingredient in a better community.  When citizens have more facts and context they make better decisions.

There is a one-two punch that journalism can and must provide. To be an active and aware Manhattanite you read The New York Times and The New Yorker.  Austin reads its daily as well as a nonprofit website The Texas Tribune (and of course the celebrated Texas Monthly).  As a devoted reader of The Seattle Times myself I hope that Crosscut can continue to augment and complement our region’s news landscape.

Over the past several weeks I have been ask by friends and supporters, “What can I do to help?” Since I have your attention, here are a few requests:

Readers: Please use your voice, Facebook, Twitter and email to share Crosscut with others. Please become an annual member by contributing what you can.

Advertisers: Participate in our strategic planning and give us a chance. Our readership, both intelligent and engaged, will continue to grow particularly in demographics that can be hard to reach.


Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!

Comments:

Posted Thu, Jul 26, 5:10 a.m. Inappropriate

Best of luck going forward Greg.

Cameron

Posted Thu, Jul 26, 7:56 a.m. Inappropriate

You've got to change the name. Call it Seattle Voice, or something similar. "Crosscut" is static, meaningless, and uber-nerdy.

NotFan

Posted Thu, Jul 26, 8:56 a.m. Inappropriate

Content is far more important than the name, and Crosscut is branded. It's fine.

Posted Thu, Jul 26, 10:13 a.m. Inappropriate

Crosscut is a noble but challenging project. As a sometime observer I have two main beefs:

-- The quality of the content is uneven and editing (so far as I can tell) non-existent. Too many articles are merely political screeds by hacks with axes to grind. They are not credible attempts at objective journalism and are usually poorly written. They should be weeded out.

-- Crosscut labels itself a regional resource but its in-depth coverage is limited mainly to Seattle City Hall. It doesn't even cover King County issues well, let alone outlying areas. To provide an adequate forum for regional issues may require resources beyond Crosscut's limited capacities. The viability of this mission needs to be realistically assessed.

Good luck!

woofer

Posted Thu, Jul 26, 11:14 a.m. Inappropriate

This is all good and constructive feedback. Keep it coming! If I were starting from scratch I might just call it NotFan. I am kind of partial to that sentiment generally

greg_shaw

Posted Thu, Jul 26, 6:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Good luck, Greg. Sounds like a good fit for you, and they're lucky to have you.

jimewel

Posted Fri, Jul 27, 8:15 a.m. Inappropriate

Greg sounds particularly well suited to building a more sustainable funding model. I hope he will pay careful attention to how funding influences content. As a case in point, antiseptic programming may work reasonably well for public television, but I'd question whether it can keep a web-based publication afloat.

I also hope that Crosscut will start viewing itself as an umbrella organization that provides tools and support for a variety of public media experiments. In doing so I hope you will reach outside of the Seattle bubble. For example, an Olympia-based public media outlet could feed into the system state-level news coverage and help develop new business models for smaller media markets. The latter is crucial to media reform.

Posted Sat, Jul 28, 12:42 p.m. Inappropriate

Here's abusiness model suggestion: similar to nonprofit radio, could crosscut have tax-deductable sponsers with a message displayed on various website pages? For example, while reading an article, there could be an insert that says something like "this article was generously sponsered by Mr. Chips (fictitious). Mr. Chips does PC and laptop repair plus tunes your computer for top performance. For more info contact info@mrchips.com".

The main idea is that these "advertisers" would get a better deal for their dollar since their "contribution" becomes tax deductable. It also raises that awareness that Crosscut is nonprofit.

pragmatic

Posted Sun, Jul 29, 12:22 p.m. Inappropriate

Greg states "There is a one-two punch that journalism can and must provide. To be an active and aware Manhattanite you read The New York Times and The New Yorker. Austin reads its daily as well as a nonprofit website The Texas Tribune (and of course the celebrated Texas Monthly). As a devoted reader of The Seattle Times myself I hope that Crosscut can continue to augment and complement our region’s news landscape."

I don't expect the editor of Crosscut to state this openly but part of the problem with Seattle is that we have no strong tradition of good journalism. The Seattle Times and PI (in print and now online) have for as long as I can remember been very mediocre newspapers with insignificant independent coverage of national and world news and coverage of local news that was to say the least rather spotty - for many years the Seattle Times' strategy seemed to be to put enormous resources into a couple of exposes per year in an effort to win a Pulitzer prize while ignoring half of everything else that went on this region. I am not sure how one can still be a devoted reader of the Seattle Times since there is now next to nothing in it. The Seattle Weekly and Stranger have been able to help fill the local new void not because they are particularly thoughtful but rather because the daily papers are so superficial.

Crosscut needs to stand on its own and as woofer notes that should start with some serious editing and improved standards for published articles. I want to hear a range of views but the writers should present arguments to support them rather than assuming that the reader already agrees with their preconceptions.

Posted Mon, Jul 30, 7:07 p.m. Inappropriate


Throw out all the kneejerk urbists, densifiers, transitistas and city-fanatics and turn this into what is really needed, a regional and all-State oriented blog that serves not just the 600,000 in Seattle, but the 3 million people in the exurbs, suburbs and rural areas of Puget Sound!

jabailo

Posted Wed, Aug 1, 8:26 a.m. Inappropriate

Sunday weekend edition filled with selections from other publications, photos, art, links and the like....a onc a week format for the Weekend Edition gives plenty of time to pump it up. Reprints from previous Crosscut, letters to the editor, about town photos......make it desirable, unique, special.

chapala21

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