Meet Crosscut’s communities reporter, Maleeha Syed

Here's how she is approaching a new beat at Crosscut covering different communities around the state.

Three photos: 1) A cook slicing meat, 2) Portrait of reporter Maleeha Syed, and 3) Baristas laughing while working

Left: Wali Khairzada, owner of Kabul Restaurant in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, slices beef for one of the many traditional Afghan dishes that his restaurant serves.(Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut) Center: Communities reporter Maleeha Syed. Right: Quincy Henry, owner of Campfire Coffee, laughs with his employees behind the counter of the coffee shop in Tacoma. (Chloe Collyer for Crosscut)

As my partner and I planned to leave Vermont for the opposite end of the country, I felt unsettled grappling with the reality that I had no job waiting for me in Seattle. I wanted to stay the course with the kind of journalism I pursued at the Burlington Free Press, spotlighting communities underrepresented in media coverage.

Then Crosscut put out a call for a journalist to highlight the dynamic voices that make up the Evergreen State, underscoring that coverage with a focus on equity. It was perfect.

My goal as a reporter is to understand how different communities navigate their worlds and coexist with one another. And the timing could not have been better. I was in the last laps of my role at the Free Press, where I covered Vermont’s communities in a way that paralleled the mission embedded in Crosscut’s new position.

I am intrigued by the sociocultural backdrop that influences a community and, as with most reporters, my areas of interest aren’t limited to one topic. They run the gamut, from politics to race to religion. One week I might cover gun culture, the next the opioid epidemic. These subjects matter because they impact the people of Washington. 

My reporting is about getting on the ground and meeting people both influential in and influenced by changes happening across the state. It’s about hearing firsthand how they experience Washington. 

It’s about chatting with Black-owned coffee shops and hearing what it’s like breaking into a white-dominated industry. It’s about getting to know the Wallingford restaurant owner donating a portion of his eatery’s proceeds to help refugees from Afghanistan, a country he left decades ago. 

I’m incredibly excited to learn about and cover this state. Help me out by sending tips, asking questions or just saying hi on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89 or by emailing me at

This story was first published in Crosscut's Weekly newsletter. Want to hear more from reporters like Maleeha Syed? Sign up for the newsletter, below.

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