How partnerships make our journalism better

We work with outlets like InvestigateWest and Youth Today to bring more stories to more of you.

Clockwise: Two people hugging; an older man talks to a younger man; a teen sits on the bumper of his car; a woman looks out a window.

Over three years, Crosscut and Youth Today have teamed up to tell a number of stories. From top-left: Youth outreach engagement specialist RoNae Marshall hugs a high school student; counselor for homeless youth Johnny Ohta talks with Fox, 20; Rachel Mathison, director of programs, in a second floor gathering area of Cocoon House in Everett; Malik Banks sits outside the REACH Center in Tacoma. (Matt M. McKnight, Genna Martin, Matt M. McKnight, Karen Ducey for Crosscut)

When I tell people that I'm working on a project with a bunch of journalists at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, confusion sometimes follows. 

It's understandable. I am, after all, a journalist in Seattle working on stories based around regional issues. What could be gained from working with an outfit in the Peach State?

Well, for one thing, the package we published this week about youth homeless services and how the pandemic has changed the way some providers engage with young people. In both an in-depth story from reporter Allegra Abramo and a podcast episode produced by Sam Leeds, Crosscut readers and listeners were taken inside two Tacoma operations that were facing tremendous challenges at the outset of the pandemic and who met those challenges with innovation.

It's the kind of story we love here at Crosscut and it wouldn't have been possible without our partnership with the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State.

The center is home to Youth Today, an outlet that covers the many challenges facing young people in America. Youth Today’s audience is somewhat limited, consisting of people who are already deeply invested in these issues. Through partnerships like this one they generate reporting on a wide variety of topics from around the country for that audience, but they also are able to expose a more general audience to issues and stories that might otherwise go uncovered.

They fund the journalism – in this case through a grant from the Raikes Foundation – provide some national perspective, reporting and sourcing when needed, and then rely on local journalists, like Allegra and Sam, to tell a story that brings the issue to life. And Allegra and Sam really do a commendable job of bringing this issue to life. 

This latest installment is part of an ongoing series on youth homelessness, which will continue later this spring with another story and podcast episode. We plan to continue working with the center to tell more stories about youth homelessness in the Pacific Northwest, hopefully producing a full season of the Youth Today podcast in the near future.

Beyond the journalism value that comes out of partnerships like this one, I really just love collaborating with a wide array of journalists who have varied expertise and area codes.

That was the case with our recent Getting to Zero series on decarbonization in the Pacific Northwest, a collaborative project organized by InvestigateWest, a stalwart partner of ours, that included work from the Tyee, in British Columbia, and Grist.

That project has since wound down, but our work with InvestigateWest will continue as that outfit’s new executive director, Jacob Fries, takes their investigative work in new directions. He has already announced a new and impressive slate of editors who will be helping to guide their journalism. InvestigateWest has also recently hired reporter Wilson Criscione, whose investigation into Washington's record of sending disabled students out of state leads our coverage today. I’m excited to see what Jacob is doing because it’s good for journalism, but selfishly I’m also excited because it’s great for us and our readers.

Other partnerships are on the horizon as well. I can’t talk about them right now, but expect that when I do, I might get some confused looks.

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About the Authors & Contributors

Mark Baumgarten

Mark Baumgarten

Mark Baumgarten is the former director of digital news at Crosscut and KCTS 9.