Why Crosscut is different

It's a place that draws writers with fresh takes and more complex takes on Northwest life.

It's a place that draws writers with fresh takes and more complex takes on Northwest life.

Crosscut is an incubator of original analysis and ideas, something wholly unique in the Northwest. It's the new internet face of journalism, a still-evolving, web-based think tank, democratic and without walls.

I realized Crosscut had me when I began to look forward to reading Mike Henderson, the Thomas Hobbes of sportswriting. I don't like sports. And I secretly (or not so secretly now) don't like most people who like sports. The Mariners are Ambien. The Sounders, Xanax. Still, I devour Henderson because he weaves humor, insight, and a low-sky resignation into bunts and squeeze plays. I learn something new every time.

I'm still impressed how Crosscut's scribblers breathe life into otherwise snoozer topics, from mass transit to urban planning.

Consider Knute Berger and Feliks Banel who eye regional issues through history's lens. They contextualize and make whole the idea of a useable past. The same with David Brewster. The same with Anthony Robinson and his Niebuhr-ian outlook (the Northwest's utopia-seeking political culture needs more Niebuhr-ians)! And the same with Judy Lightfoot who teases out questions and holds a mirror to critical but otherwise turn-your-face imponderables like homelessness and mental illness.

My first Crosscut submission was a meditation on the Northwest roots of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) that was too long and wonky for other regional media. Where else could I argue that FISA was one of ours: The consummate Northwest-bred law that flowed from the consummate Northwest lawmaker, Sen. Frank Church of Idaho? Or that Church's committee stewardship reflected a Northwest ethic of public service limned by independence and conscience, not simply partisanship?

It was my Mom who encouraged me to write when I was in high school. "You're too sinful to go into politics," she lied (she rooted through my laundry pockets and knew my secrets after all). I should have taken Mom's advice but instead glided from one gig to another, eventually falling headlong into the eighth circle of hell, political speechwriting. It was an unwise path, although it's given me insight into the Orwellian rhetoric and focus-group-scrubbed messaging of the political class. I've since had to learn to de-platitude my writing, and I'm grateful to Crosscut for building an electronic platform to float my (mostly) sans-cliché brainstorms and reviews.

Over the long-term, an idea generator like Crosscut serves as a civic adhesive. It's a community treasure, but it doesn't operate in a vacuum. Please consider becoming a Crosscut member or renewing your membership here.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson