Crosscut Focus

Crosscut's Focus series seeks to elevate and examine some of the most significant issues facing the people and places of the Pacific Northwest through in-depth reporting and inventive multimedia storytelling.


Smoky Skies, Altered Lives

Four images in a grid: A man wearing a mask in smoky Seattle; A smoky, burned forest; A burned up neighborhood; scientists working with testing equipment

Wildfires are growing in frequency and intensity, threatening our landscape, our lifestyle and our health. This series probes how the upsurge in fire and smoke fueled by climate change puts us at risk, and how restoring the health of our forests could make a difference.

We're collecting readers' questions about human health and the wildfire smoke. Have a question? Ask us now. 

Facing the Fallout

Facing the Fallout: economic hardship in the time of coronavirus

For many, 2020 has been the most stressful year in memory. Worries about health, relationships, school, politics, jobs and financial security are just the start of a very long list. Some have a financial cushion and a support system that is helping them weather whatever the universe sends their way. But for others, COVID-19 has been the last straw, pushing them off the edge of a cliff that was looming before 2020. For this series of stories, Crosscut reporters share the Washington experiences of people staring over the COVID cliff, at work and at home. 

Prison's Other Death Sentence

An empty room with a puddle on the floor at a Washington corrections facility.

Journalist Levi Pulkkinen spent the past year digging into a subject many Americans have never given more than a passing thought to: healthcare for people in prison. His three-part investigative series reveals a system where delays in health care may mean life or death for the men and women behind bars in Washington state but also has an outsized impact on the state budget.

The New Normal

3 images, 1 of a grocery store, a woman, and a doctor.

"The New Normal" takes a look at life during a pandemic. On the surface, our communities are slumbering as the vast majority of Washington’s citizens are homebound. Empty roadways and businesses offer a daily reminder of the risks the coronavirus presents. How we work, live, play and interact have all shifted. From the front lines to those in isolation, COVID-19 has affected everyone and behind every door, stories unfold.

Resetting the Table

Resetting the table

Washington is an agricultural powerhouse, producing some of the highest yields of fruit, vegetables and grains in the country — yet despite this bounty, plenty of people can’t access it. Entire communities can’t get to the food they need, and while many are in urban centers, rural and suburban communities deal with the issue in entirely unique ways. While visiting diverse communities throughout western Washington — immigrants, farmworkers, grocery shoppers in rural and urban areas alike — we found examples of what fixing Washington’s food system might look like from the ground up.

Equal Play

Equal play

The fervor over the U.S. Women's National Team and its victory in the FIFA Women's World Cup this past summer made two things clear:  Women's sports are ascendant and the fight for equal pay is heating up. The Seattle area currently has a courtside seat to all the action. Professional teams here are seeing continued success and tremendous change as they further knit themselves into the fabric of their communities and the future of American athletics. And the players that will populate that future are being trained here as well, be they college champions or hopeful juniors. Meanwhile the fight for equal pay goes on. In this edition of Crosscut's Focus series, we explore the shifting landscape of women's athletics, explain how it is transforming our region and spotlight the women who play here.

Forged In Fire

Forged in Fire

Washington has always been a landscape shaped by wildfire. And humans have been caught in the middle — as stewards, victims, fighters, bystanders, and more. Now with climate change bringing greater uncertainty to our seasons, wildfire has become a year-round concern, igniting fresh fears and inspiring new, and renewed, forestry practices.

In this weeklong series, we’ll delve into the history and share perspectives and experiences from people on the front lines — explaining why, for them and us, the fire never goes out.