Crosscut’s membership drives often focus on a familiar, principled plea for donations: “support quality journalism.” While we certainly appreciate support for journalism, we also understand that readers want to understand where the money goes. To illustrate, this short report offers a glimpse at the people, technology and infrastructure required to produce a digital, nonprofit daily. We need just 145 new or renewing members to reach our goal. With just two days remaining, please take a moment to support Crosscut.
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On Monday morning, in a warren of offices and cubicles at Seattle City Hall, workers began to pop up from desks and move about briskly. Something was clearly happening.
Crosscut's Terri Hiroshima and I were well into a meeting with colleagues at CityClub and the Seattle Channel to plan the next Civic Cocktail, a popular monthly gathering we’ve created to discuss news and ideas.
I overheard Seattle Police Chief John Diaz’s whispered name and quickly pulled out my mobile phone to check Twitter. Sure enough, moments earlier, the first tweet had reported an unconfirmed report that Diaz would step-down. The meeting was over.
With the U.S. Department of Justice oversight of Seattle police and mayoral candidates prioritizing the need for a cultural change within the police department, the Diaz rumor had many implications.
My first call was to Joe Copeland, an experienced editor who was leaving his house to head into the newsroom. While I wrapped up our Civic Cocktail meeting, Joe rallied the troops.
Editor Berit Anderson decided to write the breaking news story, while also updating our 2,000 Facebook friends and 6,000 Twitter followers. She quickly pulled up the scheduled webcast of the press conference, while I ran up to the 7th floor to the press room for some photos and side interviews. TV cameras and reporters began to gather.
Meanwhile, across town, members of the Crosscut board were gathering for a regularly scheduled meeting, a meeting I needed to attend. Mid-way through the press conference, Joe relieved me in a rushed hand-off of the press packet.
Back in the newsroom early that afternoon, our two interns, working under the direction of editors, called around town for reactions from council members, mayoral candidates and community leaders. Crosscut has a commitment to developing the next generation of news reporters.
Editor-in-chief Mary Bruno finished her regular guest appearance with KBCS news radio, and turned her attention to the dozens of planned articles for the week.
In the background, phones rang as Marilyn Hoe managed calls from new and renewing Crosscut members. CFO Michael Crystal worked with me to complete a grant application.
By the end of the day, Crosscut had three news and analysis pieces about the police chief's announcement, in addition to our previously planned coverage.
Joe’s article looked at the differences and similarities in reactions to the Chief's retirement by mayoral candidates. Berit’s article went beyond simply reporting statements from the press conference to provide excellent context and analysis. And, of course, our resident Troll provided a high-level summary for busy afternoon readers.
With a small, frugal staff, Crosscut covers a lot of ground. Olympia, the Eastside, Seattle City Hall, social justice, coal trains, books, sports, ports, politics, news aggregation, live conversations, partnerships with other news organizatons, a new e-book. We're even working on version 2.0 of our iPhone and iPad app.
It's nothing heroic. Our colleagues in print, broadcast and online are also working hard to inform the public with limited resources. More independent, nonpartisan, quality journalism is a good thing. So is competition.
But we need your support.
Crosscut board members will match the next 60 donors at the $100 level.