I like a good challenge. When I first started working with Crosscut after leaving The Seattle Times, I did some freelance writing then part-time editing. But over the past 18 months or so, I've been drawn further into the place and it's now “what I do.” I was recently named managing editor, and my connection to this experimental, aspiring, nonprofit news organization has me feeling proud and excited — but not just for the reasons you might think.
Yes, I have an affinity for our many talented writers and the variety of voices and experiences they bring to our readers. I like our willingness to let people express a point of view as long as it's backed up by good reasoning and facts. I'm glad we strive to include many perspectives, political persuasions, and unheard (or less-heard) voices. I'm also fascinated by the grand experiment of Web journalism, and its quest for a new business model for a profession I deeply believe is essential to a strong democracy.
But more to the point: I'm here, and I'm hoping you'll join or continue supporting our mission, because of what Crosscut doesn't yet have. You can help by becoming an annual Member, making a tax-deductible contribution during our Spring Membership drive. It's easy to donate today, and below I'll describe some Member benefits and drawings for prizes if you join.
Aside from Knute “Mossback” Berger, our cleanup-hitter of a writer, and our staff editors, we do not have staff reporters, relying instead on freelancers. That makes it tough to jump on news or assign quick-turnaround analyses of important issues, or to get the quantity and depth of coverage we want. We're thinly staffed compared to our peer websites in cities like San Diego, San Francisco, Austin, Minneapolis, and St. Louis, which are far more generously funded. (C'mon, Seattle!) There's lots more we could do, and we need your support to make this happen.
We don't have a budget for good document-hunting — the root of much good investigative journalism, and grist for good nuts-and-bolts story ideas. We don't have the money to hire photographers. And we haven't yet been able to bring in up-and-coming journalists who can pair with veterans to help us dig deep on long-running stories, shedding light on the process and politics behind important decisions being made by our regional leaders.
Crosscut has been fortunate enough to receive three major two-year grants, and part of that money is helping with some of the initiatives I've mentioned. We are staffing up with some key new positions on the business side. But we could be doing so much more, and the region needs so much more.
As I said, there's nothing wrong with a good challenge. In fact, it's much more fun to run toward one than away from it. I hope you'll join ours today.
During this Membership drive, we have several rewards and incentives. At the end, we'll have a drawing for a grand prize of an iPad2; all who join or renew this month are eligible. Each day there is a drawing from those who joined or renewed that day. The most recent winner (a $25 gift card to Ivar's seafood restaurants) is Madeline Wilde of Seattle. Today's prize from the drawing is a pair of tickets to any mainstage play in the ACT Theatre 2011 season: Join or renew today to be eligible for the drawing. And all who donate at the $100 level will get a free Crosscut tee shirt, black or Navy and with long sleeves. Donations are tax-deductible, as Crosscut is a nonprofit organization.
Crosscut has more than 700 Members, who provide critical financial support for this venture and a living connection with the community. We hold frequent Member events to get your ideas and feedback and to allow you to meet our writers, editors, and owners. The next party, free to Members, is April 28, when we'll be unveiling a new public space for future events and to help revitalize Pioneer Square.
That party is to thank you for your generosity, and also to celebrate our fourth birthday. The recrafting of local journalism still has a long way to go. But Crosscut, one of the pioneers in this new model of public-supported, public-interest online local journalism, has got momentum and staying power. Please help us with your vote of support.