I have been in this town for most of the last 20 years, and in that span of time things have changed a great deal. One big thing that’s happened is a realignment of what I’ll call, loosely, the media. It used to be that there were two big dailies and two weekly papers. That was it. Aside from highly localized neighborhood papers with small circulation, if you had a story to tell those were the places to tell it.
Growing up in those last 20 years in political campaigns, community efforts, and public-policy brawls meant watching the transformation up close. Today there are a myriad of places to tell a story but not all those venues are created equal. Crosscut is unique among them because it provides a forum for the full spectrum of opinion, news, and arts and entertainment.
Sometimes I tell the story of submitting a query letter to David Brewster at the Seattle Weekly in 1993 after moving back to Seattle after graduate school. The article was a small one about the growing effort to mobilize the Hispanic community in Washington state. And yes, it was a letter, printed out, folded, placed in an envelope, and stamped. My follow up was a phone call. David printed the piece.
Since then I’ve written in just about every venue there is around here. Some of the publications are gone. And the conversations seem a bit more fast and furious than they did in 1993. But the issues are still the same in many ways: how do we deal with change, what is the role of government in our lives, and how do we plan for the future. My experience has made me skeptical of politicians, but oddly hopeful for better government, and doubtful that giving people more choices is a good idea.
Today I’m more impatient with public process than I was in 1993, but encouraged that the current “media” environment allows such a wide expression of opinions and points of view. Crosscut has evolved into that environment as a respected venue for sometimes disrespected minority opinions. That’s what great journalism was always supposed to be.
Publisher's note: This is one of a series of articles by Crosscut writers and staffers, as part of our Fall Membership drive. Please consider making a donation and becoming an Annual Member. Such Memberships are critical to Crosscut's financial well-being, and Members enjoy many benefits. It's easy to donate online; Member benefits are spelled out here. Each day there are drawings for prizes, with the prize for today (Sept. 29) being an ACT Pass, providing you access to ACT productions all through 2012.