Thanks, readers, for putting us over the Membership goal

Final drawing results for prizes, toting up the good news, and a little further explanation of what it is Crosscut is trying to do.

Crosscut archive image.

Final drawing results for prizes, toting up the good news, and a little further explanation of what it is Crosscut is trying to do.

We've added up the figures, checked them twice, and are happy to announce 368 new and renewing annual Members for Crosscut, putting us $3,252 over our Fall Membership drive goal. We signed up 108 new Members, at an average donation of $69.80, and renewed 260 Members at an average donation of $95.60. Many thanks for all that generosity!

We have a grand prize winner to announce, and it is Bill Roach of Seattle, who wins a new iPad 2. The last daily drawing, for a yearlong ACT Pass, providing access to all ACT plays for this season, is David Stone of Seattle. Three donated at the $500 level to win VIP tickets from Seattle Arts and Lectures to Tom Brokaw or Chris Matthews. Those three, and thanks to them, are Deborah Jacobs, Bob Gogerty, and Ron Sher, all civic leaders of our community. Thanks again to the many generous institutions, restaurants, etc. that donated these prizes.

A word or two about Crosscut's financial model, while we're on the subject. Crosscut is a non-profit institution, so it receives support from Members and numerous other sources. Like public broadcast (but without any state or federal support), Crosscut is funded by Members, foundations, corporate underwriters, major gifts, and some regular advertising. Grants support general operations, capacity-building functions like improved technology, and program areas such as our new emphasis on "hard times" and the ways our community is coping. We are also exploring ways of holding some paid events and conferences (free or discounted for Members) and possibly some premium services that we can charge for.

The advantage of this model, which is being tried in several Seattle-sized, civic-minded cities (notably Austin, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego, St. Louis, and Chicago), is that it stands on a broad base of multiple revenue legs. One difficulty is the need for a fairly large staff to execute on all these fronts. We're helped by interns, a very hard-working staff (of nine), as by well as some of the writers who contribute their work, though the great majority of our writers are paid, if low-to-middling freelance rates.

We'll see if all this can work out in the long run, particularly after the launch grants from foundations run their course. Sites like Crosscut are helped by the shift to the Web for news, by the need for thoughtful and diverse journalism at the local level, and by a growing sense that we are in a "new normal" for American media, where independent and authentic voices are increasingly valued and accepted. Social media is also helping, greatly magnifying the pass-around of stories as friends tell friends about them.

The cities I mentioned above, as well as Crosscut, are striving to produce "journalism in the public interest." What might that high-minded phrase mean? One aspect is an interest in "following the solution," rather than intensifying the polarization, by looking at issues in such a way as to emphasize how people of good will are trying to find answers, seeking programs that work, and testing new ideas. Another aspect is to set a tone of respectful diversity, realizing that Web users want good data, evidence-based arguments, and multiple points of view. I think we've done a good job in occupying this nonpartisan space.

A third aspect of serving a "public good" is to be able to pick stories that merit attention and spring from the committed expertise of a writer — rather than picking stories because the produce more clicks or serve to intensify loyalty of a narrow demographic that advertisers covet. It's the "public" aspect of Crosscut Public Media, our formal name, that makes this possible and breaks the commercial sway over news judgment. The same is true, of course, of public broadcast.

You — we — are the public that makes this possible, a movement that holds the potential to transform and elevate American media. It's an honor to work for you and for this goal. Thanks, Members, for giving us this latest boost!


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