In their recent book, The Death and Life of American Journalism, media critics Robert McChesney and John Nichols paint a stark picture of economic contraction in the news industry. Citing a 2010 Poynter Institute Study, they noted that in 2009, nationwide more than 300 newspapers shut down, while another 150 folded in the following year.
Broadcast news scaled back operations, while the number of working journalists has declined. “The newspaper industry has lost $1.6 billion in reporting and editing capacity since 2000 or about 30 percent over that period,” they noted.
Seattle has not been immune to these national trends, as the demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer attests. Fortunately, emerging online news publications like Crosscut fill an important gap in the rapidly-changing landscape of traditional journalism.
Not only has Crosscut become a daily staple for our growing readership, it has also attracted a bevy of talented writers, many respected veteran reporters as well as new and younger journalists with a keen understanding of regional politics, arts, health, transportation, the environment and other areas vital to our civic life.
Five years ago, publisher David Brewster launched a new experiment with the founding of Crosscut. As a newcomer to online journalism, I have been impressed by Crosscut’s broad coverage, whether it’s the thoughtful commentary of Anthony Robinson, insightful reporting of Knute Berger, Eric Scigliano, Judy Lightfoot, John Stang, Daniel Jack Chasan, Douglas MacDonald, arts coverage by Alice Kaderlan, Thomas May and Marcie Sillman, or sports reporting by Art Thiel.
The past two-and-a-half years as a contributing writer for Crosscut have been a rewarding experience as I have had the opportunity to report on higher education, politics and public health and write occasional book reviews. I have also been given the latitude to cover more than a particular beat.
Another strength of Crosscut in my view is its goal of providing total community coverage, a concept pioneered by the late American journalist, Robert C. Maynard. The Seattle – Puget Sound region is home to an array of ethnically diverse communities. As a former reporter for the International Examiner, the newspaper of the Northwest Asian American community, I am committed to expanded coverage and believe Crosscut has the potential to accomplish that goal.
As with National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Services, the future vitality of Crosscut depends on your support. Becoming a Crosscut member will ensure that this new experiment in online journalism thrives and prospers in the years to come.
Like what you just read? Start or renew your Crosscut membership online today.