Knute Berger recently wrote a great piece on the current state of Seattle media:
But even The Stranger, known for its criticism of the Blethen-family-owned Times, has concerns about what’s happening media-wise in this town. We are losing something with the twilight of the old media, like real journalism. Stranger Publisher Tim Keck tells me the “Seattle Times, a severely damaged publication, does more for our city in a day than Yelp and Craigslist (to pick up a couple of brands that have been around for a while) have done in their lifetimes.” In other words, surviving is one thing, but operating with a real news commitment and resources is something else. Seattle needs that more than ever, and not every new media iteration is going to fill that gap. “Cities are humans’ greatest invention. Cities don’t work without good local media,” says Keck.
Collectively, the local media are crowdsourcing a solution. New partnerships, experiments, cutbacks, all are the order of the day, but as yet there is no single answer to how to improve and grow substantive local news in the new media environment. Change, says Keck, is not just a reality, but has to become part of a media entity’s brand — the expected thing, not the resisted one. “The stakes are high, and local media has to figure it out,” he says.
Here at Seattle Transit Blog, we’re running our own experiment. Our theory is that if we put out quality, original reporting with deep expertise in a specific subject matter, we can build a community that will support a sustainable journalistic enterprise. In just the last month, Zach’s met with everyone from ST staff, to activists, to elected officials, and reported from 5 public meetings. We couldn’t do any of that last year.
You, our readers, are part of our experiment. It will only work if we hear from you. We’re almost halfway to our goal of 100 new donors. To put that in perspective, that’s fewer people than visited our site in the last hour. Will you be one of them? A few bucks is all it takes. If you’re feeling generous, remember that a printed version of Oran’s beautiful Seattle Transit Map is available to those who give $150 or $12/month. If that’s more than you can swing right now, even just $10 is greatly appreciated. To those who have given, thank you! To those who are considering it, I can’t stress enough that whatever you can give is valuable.
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