An e-mail sent today by Crosscut Associate Editor Berit Anderson, and forwarded on to me:
From: Berit Anderson Sent: Friday, June 15, 2012 8:56 AM To: Joe Copeland; David Brewster; Terri Hiroshima Subject: The News on Crosscut
We've hit a rough patch at Crosscut, causing us to impose reduced summer hours on staff and writers. The essay below explains more of the factors, and will be the public statement on the scale backs; it will be posted at noon Friday. In the media blowback, please refer calls to Brewster (206-XXX-XXXX) if you can and try not to speculate too freely!
What it means is that we will keep publishing each day, though fewer stories. Editing hours will be scaled back with Joe and Berit and David spending time on the desk and Joe and Berit taking off Fridays. Each will be available a few hours each day, so will be slower in getting to some articles. Please help by coordinating with one of us about story plans and whether we can afford them or fit them in if breaking news. The overall freelance budget is temporarily reduced significantly. We will ask you to consider writing at reduced freelance rates or doing shorter stories; obviously if you are inclined to contribute some stories for the good of the site, that would be much appreciated. Clickers will still be posted, in part by interns. Terri will hold things together on the business side, working half time.
The broader context is that the board and staff are working to forge a new, better funded, updated, more sustainable Crosscut. The plan has been to attract significant new funding to improve the site with more original reporting, a redesign, and more staff to work the multiple revenue streams (advertising, membership, grants, major gifts, events). That has taken more time than we hoped, so this new funding is delayed. The result is a revenue gap. We are addressing this with staff cutbacks for the summer and more urgency in finding the new leadership approach. I'm very sorry for the necessity of these temporary cuts.
I hope we can keep the good family spirit of Crosscut going, with many folks in the office, writers' lunches, and your good articles. Writers got us through our one previous dry season, 2009, when we were waiting for the nonprofit status to enable us to raise new funding. You saved Crosscut then. You continue to do wonderful work and to be the backbone of the site. We're very grateful for all your hard work and commitment.
David, Terri, Joe, and Berit
The soon-to-be published essay that's referred to in this e-mail is by Crosscut Editor in Chief David Brewster. It speaks of the site reaching a "fiscal cliff" due to the expiration of three grants this year. Brewster also mentions "succession planning that will allow me to scale back my involvement and put the leadership of the venture in dynamic new hands."
Still, he warns: "We could lose Crosscut, just as the region has lost the print Post-Intelligencer and the Eastside Journal and numerous other websites that have tried to partially fill these voids. Newspaper industry revenues are half what they were in 2005. In the Seattle market it is estimated that about half the working journalists have lost their jobs, and our local media market is hugely diminished in recent years.