For all of journalism’s financial challenges, the bigger picture looks bright. People want to know about public issues, young people still want to go into the field and new technology keeps opening the doors to more people’s knowledge and ideas.
And there’s one particularly exciting method of financing the delivery of local news that Crosscut is a part of: non-profit, community-minded journalism.
This is something quite different from the newspaper operations that I worked in for many years. And it’s an exciting departure because of its potential to create closer ties between the needs of a community, the hopes of people and the way that the news journalists pursue, delivers.
To a large extent, National Public Radio showed the way for a different approach with its fund drives and more serious news reporting than commercial broadcast channels had been able to deliver. There have also been a few non-profit newspaper operations, including the Tampa Bay Times and The Guardian in Britain.
Much of the action, though, has emerged from digital media, like Crosscut and other online sites across the nation. Unlike NPR, most have a local or regional focus or specialize in something like investigative journalism.
At Crosscut, much of our coverage is driven by freelancers, many of whom have particular expertise in an area — the environment, transportation, urban planning, healthy foods, the Hanford cleanup or education. It’s a freewheeling mix that produces a wide range of informative news and commentary — and often very enlightening exchanges among those who continue the discussion in our comments section online.
Working with freelancers, who aren’t as tied to schedules as a full-time staff would be, can produce a lot of last-minute surprises. Most of these are good surprises because our dozens of writers, driven by passion for issues that matter to the community, often pop up with unexpected articles that are too good and important to pass on, or even delay.
Like the old Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Crosscut is a place where writers have a lot of room to explore an issue and to tell a compelling story. As we continue to explore the additional capabilities that new media has to offer us, we hope you will be a part of supporting a passionate commitment to the discussion and exploration of the issues that can help the Pacific Northwest become an even better place for all of the people here.
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