E-newsletters have become a primary engagement, dissemination and revenue-generating tool for modern newsrooms. With benefits ranging from reader loyalty to audience insights to new revenue, it’s easy to see why. What’s harder to see is the “why not,” though it’s equally important. Email used to be a method for filtering the internet. Far from the infinity scroll or overcrowded stream of unvetted articles, email delivered exactly what we needed to know from a trusted source in a format that we could finish. For newsrooms, email allowed us to target exactly who we wanted with the content and branding we wanted them to see. Email has not only outlived and outshone other tools, it has remained the one constant in a stream of new technologies. As ReDef executive Jason Hirschhorn told The New York Times, email is “the cockroach of the internet.”
Measuring and comparing courage is a difficult task. We’re reminded of this each time you — our readers — send us nominations for the Crosscut Courage Awards. Which is why we in turn hand the job of selecting the honorees over to a council of civic, business, and cultural leaders in our community. Last night as that council convened, they were searching for individuals who innovate despite criticism, show selfless leadership, inspire others, follow data and best practices even when custom and tradition say otherwise, and take risk to successfully break gridlock. What they found were 60 reasons to be optimistic for our future.
Through a haze of hateful twitter attacks, robust polarization in media, and the decline of civil dialogue in public life, habits of courage are more often rewarded with criticism than celebration. Perhaps it’s easier to see it with the perspective that only comes with time. Children gathered around a piano at Camp Harmony following Executive Order 9066. The only woman to serve as Seattle’s mayor taking a hard stance against police corruption. A tribal leader under arrest for the 50th time to protect the sovereignty of tribes and their right to harvest Northwest salmon. Courage can easily be found throughout our local history. But we want to catch people in the act today.
If you operate a nonprofit newsroom, email appeals have likely become an essential fundraising tool. Yet while recommendations for how to grow your mailing lists are readily available, it’s much harder to find good information about retaining subscribers and engaging them as active community members. As a result, many successful efforts to gain subscribers are followed swiftly by flurries of unsubscribes or high spam ratings. Through a fellowship with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, I’ve set out to explore ways that nonprofit news outlets can turn fly-by readers into email subscribers and, further, into supporting members.
We’re writing today with thrilling news. Yesterday, Crosscut formally agreed to join with KCTS 9 Public Television under the umbrella of a larger, multi-platform nonprofit organization that will be called Cascade Public Media. This merger represents an exciting new chapter for Crosscut, for KCTS, and for regional, nonprofit news in the Pacific Northwest. We’ll get to the details in a moment. First, we want to assure you that Crosscut isn’t going anywhere. You’ll continue to read our special brand of feisty, civic-minded journalism. You’ll see the same lively debates over where our region is headed. It will all be brought to you at Crosscut.com by the same staff of hardworking writers and editors who will operate with strict editorial independence under the new organization. There will be no layoffs. In fact, the merger allows us to bring several part-time staffers up to full-time and offer everyone improved employee benefits. In addition to enhancing the work we already do, the Crosscut-KCTS 9 merger gives us access to resources and expertise to do more in-depth journalism, as well as cutting-edge video and multimedia production. We’ll reach a broader audience, build Crosscut’s membership and create a more robust and sustainable business model. We’ll provide a platform for more journalists with a greater variety of voices and opinions and with broader coverage of the Seattle metro region, state government and Washington state.
One of my favorite pastimes is scanning the projects on Kickstarter or IndiGogo, getting a taste for the next wave of disruptive technologies designed to revolutionize my morning latte, backpacking omelets or personal posture. Perhaps that’s why attending last week’s Seattle Venture Partners' annual Fast Pitch Finals at McCaw Hall felt to me like shopping for the next companies that will revolutionize our community. Contestants pitch their ideas — live, on-stage before a panel of judges — in hopes of landing a piece of the $250,000 in grant and investments on the table.