Yesterday brought the heartbreaking news that PubliCola is folding. Luckily, friends of STB Josh Feit and Erica Barnett are landing on their feet at Crosscut.

It’s a small ecosystem of local sources that focus heavily on transit and land use, so this loss will be keenly felt. PubliCola, and Erica’s writing in particular, was the closest thing to STB in the for-profit realm. It’s true that enthusiasts like us can cover many functions previously exclusive to the formal media, thanks to ease of publication and widely available source material on the internet. But volunteers with day jobs have difficulty covering press conferences, unrecorded midday board meetings, or hanging around city hall to pick up the tidbits that construct a larger narrative. I don’t think STB competes with other sources, but rather, complements them with additional information and in-depth analysis. One less sister publication will make our jobs harder, not easier.

Best of luck to Josh and Erica. PubliCola will be missed.

9 Replies to “RIP, PubliCola”

  1. Both PubliCola and Crosscut have the word News in there respective Logos, which implies a certain level of factual reporting on topics of interest. Let’s not confuse that with STB, which accurately calls itself a Blog, offering a wider range of opinionated dialog, and greater latitude to argue our passions.
    I enjoy both, but expect better than a Blogs worth out of News outlet.

    1. Their news pieces were clearly seperated from their opinion pieces, even in the logo at the top of each story. Sure, there were a much higher percentage of opinion pieces than a standard newspaper, but their news was detailed and well researched. I attended a transit event or two at the same time as Erica, and her write up was always the most detailed and timely on the Internet.

      1. (make that “anywhere”. It’s not like print papers even covered these events.)

      2. I agree with Matt. And it wasn’t just transit that had good coverage, these guys went to tons of political events, etc. Some of it was opinion, but Seattle times does that too.

        Some how they manage to make every issue about the war on parking, for example.

  2. I remember a “debate” about transit issues that Publicola sponsored last year. Great community involvement. You’d think with the readership they were getting their would be enough ad revenue to support them but I guess it’s brutal out there.

    Wasn’t a fan of Crosscut but I guess I’ll venture there a little more often.

  3. I always wondered how it was supposed to make money. To pay two full-time reporters you need at least, say $200 a day. To get to that, you may need a full-time ad salesperson which raises the requirement even further. That’s a lot of internet ads and a ton of traffic. They probably got just enough traffic to be relevant but not enough to make a living.

    The other option would seem to be an NPR model, which they did not try, but would definitely require being a 501c3, which would limit what you could do politically (no endorsements, for example).

    1. $200 a day? That is not much for two people per day- $12.5/hr. In any case, it shows how hard it would be to suceed financially. That is a lot of eyeballs seeing a lot of ads paid for by advertisers.

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