Viewing information as a path to community solutions

Posted on November 08, 2011 by Janet Coats

Part of our journey in the New Media Journalism Initiative has been embracing a willingness to change as we go.

That value of embracing new ideas to address a constantly changing world is a core part of The Patterson Foundation’s mission. We see this value being lived daily as part of the Block by Block network of community sites.

Today, Kathleen Majorsky introduces us to our final site in our series of profile. Crosscut began publishing in 2007 and was then owned by a group of civic-minded Seattle investors. In 2008, that model changed when the assets of Crosscut were donated to a non-profit entity.

While the ownership model has shifted, Crosscut has been consistent in its model of publishing civic-focused, thoughtful coverage. That reflects the idea of information as a public utility, one that can knit together communities.

Block by Block is Crosscut and assistant editor Berit Anderson.

Crosscut is a site that has been around for awhile, as startups go, and has moved through a couple of iterations.

In that sense, it reflects the entrepreneurial path many Block by Block sites are on now, or may soon find themselves traveling.

A regional news site based in Seattle, Crosscut describes its mission this way:

“We pay particular attention to what we call ‘News of the Great Nearby,’ meaning the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho or Montana, and the province of British Columbia. This regional coverage is meant to help draw the region together and to give readers a sense that they live in a larger, varied ‘nation-state.’ ‘’

This goal: highlighting the best of local news and commentary, not routine breaking news.

“As an organization we see ourselves as a solutions conduit for our readers. We direct them to possible solutions to problems and how they can personally get involved,” Anderson says.

Even though Crosscut is excelling as a regional news source, the site still struggles with the same revenue challenges other smaller independent sites face.

“We are always trying to refine that balance between advertising and membership and grants that allow us to continue functioning and keep providing services and the media literacy we do for our community,” Anderson says.

But this challenge doesn’t prevent Crosscut from working toward their goals for growth and expansion.

“We would love to become more open to a larger and more diverse community of readers,” Anderson says.

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