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.

Make a donation or click on the donate button above.  Seattle Transit Blog is a 501(c)4; donations are not tax-deductible.

19 Replies to “Support our Experiment in Local Publishing”

  1. Hey folks, I chip in what I can, where I can. I’m of the view this blog is the modern version of “Car and Driver” or “Trains” magazine for folks – only way more intelligent and pithy. I’ll say it again – I’d buy stickers, a t-shirt and a tote bag w/ the STB logo on it.

    One way of supporting Zach methinks is by using PedalAnywhere. I intend to use it when in Seattle for Seafair – just haven’t finalized plans yet. Having a bicycle with panniers will keep me from having to use buses that get stuck in traffic or if the light rail has a collision in the Rainier Valley ride to the nearest bus stop to keep my Seafair evening event & photography plans on track.

  2. Have you checked with the Amazon donate options. I like it because they have a pretty good record of security, it is easy, and I have a place to keep track of donations. They may do it on a magazine basis. I would prefer a quarterly donation.

    1. I use Amazon Smile to chip in a tiny portion of my purchases over to the PBY Memorial Foundation in Oak Harbor. Might work for STB, but I’m hopefully understandably not making the switch.

    2. Thanks for the feedback. Quarterly would be an interesting option.

  3. I’ll happily donate on payday later this week. A question though, why the 501(c)4 NON tax deductible status? Does it have to do with political advocacy? Per the IRS you can be tax deductible as a c4 and engage in SOME political advocacy, it just can’t be your primary activity.

    IRS: “To be operated exclusively to promote social welfare, an organization must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community (such as by bringing about civic betterment and social improvements).”


    “The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.”

    I would argue that is precisely what STB is, an organization that operates primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community and engages in some political activities, though those political activities are not STB’s primary activity. Does it hinge on whether or not you can endorse candidates?

    1. Elliott;

      I get regular STB update e-mails. Going to 501(c)3 status would have meant Seattle Transit Blog could no longer endorse candidates or speak up as much as Seattle Transit Blog has done. It was not supported by the donor corps.

    2. Yep, we would be limited in our ability to endorse candidates or have a strong POV in our reporting.

  4. For those of us with the RSS reader, it might be useful to put a “click here to donate” in the article. As someone who doesn’t come to the site proper too often, it took me a second to figure that I probably needed to click into the main article.

  5. Is there a non-Paypall option? I’ve had nothing but awful experiences with Paypall.

    1. I would think that even 100% electronic media still has to have some sort of mailing address for the non-profit tax filings and the like.

      Not that paper checks are efficient for Frank and Martin to deal with….

      1. Seconded! Any way to donate without using PayPal? I want 100% of the funds I send to actually reach you… Something like Google Wallet’s ACH-based free transfer. Or even mailing a check! I’d rather the USPS get $.49 than PayPal… As for the “hassle” of paper checks, use a bank with phone app depositing…

  6. Hmm, think the PayPal link on this article takes you to generic PayPal without the recipient (STB) pre-specified. Luckily, I found a link from another article and just donated – STB is really a treasure.

  7. I guess the Seattle Times does more than Yelp to the extent that they inform a wider swath of people where to go to eat out. However, I don’t believe that their reactionary positions on Light Rail and the SODO Arena project accomplish anything for a city that badly needs the infrastructure.

    1. It is important to separate the Times editorial staff from their news division. Their editorial staff is nuts. They jumped the shark years ago. They have lost all credibility, and it sucks. Their opposition to Move Seattle is just one example. It means that if they oppose ST3 because it is a poorly designed set of projects that don’t justify the extremely high cost, it will be ignored (because The Seattle Times editorial board is nuts).

      The news staff, on the other hand, does good work. They win Pulitzer’s, and have covered some very good stories that few in the country have (e. g. the recent story on Berkshire Hathaway’s mobile home scamming). As far as transit goes, they aren’t that bad, but they could be better. The piece on the ST party (along with putting it on the front page) was really tacky. At the end of the day, who the hell cares? What matters most is whether the projects make sense (they don’t) — or whether similar projects had much success (they haven’t) — or are there alternatives (there are). They did manage to cover the proposal for a new bus tunnel as well as the gondola, so I give them credit for that. But a comparison between our proposed systems and our nearest neighbor (Vancouver BC) would show the obvious differences, and why we are taking the wrong approach.

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