By Ashley Archibald, Jason Bono, Aaron Burkhalter and Lisa Edge
There are basically two parts to a journalist’s life: breaking news and seething with jealousy over the great news other journalists are breaking. Reading stories by The Stranger, South Seattle Emerald, The Globalist, Investigate West (we could go on) inevitably leaves a journalist saying, “I wish I’d written that.”
But now we’re leaving 2016, a year when literal dumpster fires suddenly look like the preferable option to the metaphoric ones we’re facing now. It was a year of bad news and fake news, which prompted us to invert our wishes. Instead of saying, “I wish I’d written that,” here in the Real Change newsroom, we’re saying, “We wish you’d read that.”
News is more important than ever, and local news outlets — under a variety of threats from hostile politicians to dwindling funding — are civic sacraments that need to be cherished.
Below, we picked some of our favorite news sources that we think you should be reading (alongside Real Change, of course). Consider it a valentine to some of the best journalists in the area. It’s not just fun to read them, it’s absolutely vital.
The Seattle Globalist
“America first” seems to be the new federal government logo, and the catchphrase “You’re fired!” is now directed at public servants who respect the Constitution. But that’s not Seattle, a city whose government has declared that it will sustain millions of dollars of cuts to protect its most vulnerable citizens and home to one of the most diverse zip codes in the country.
It’s not surprising, then, that Seattle also benefits from the Seattle Globalist, an online news outlet with the mission to lift up diverse voices and keep a weather eye on events abroad. If you don’t read The Globalist yet, take our word for it: It’s indespensible.
That’s in part because of their incredible journalism and their commitment to pay all writers for their articles, but also for the work they do to train the reporters of tomorrow. The Globalist’s work is half publishing and half education, said Sarah Stuteville, a cofounder of The Globalist.
“We’re filling an important space in devoting so much of our mission to education,” Stuteville said. “A big part of that is creating opportunity to access, training, publication, editors and journalistic opportunity.”
The Globalist recently got hit with a major cut to its funding from the University of Washington. Its readers stepped up, helping it meet the goal of getting the 5,000 new subscribers they needed to keep their doors open and the words flowing. Visit their website or follow The Seattle Globalist on Twitter @SeaGlobalist.
Dan Savage called them “obnoxious, snot-nosed, gif-pumping upstarts.” Some lady on Twitter said, “God you are a huge jerk.” The trio behind Seattlish put those quotes proudly on the top of their website, seattlish.com.
The team — Alex Hudson, Sarah Anne Lloyd and Hanna Brooks Olsen — all work full-time jobs but dedicate themselves to this informative and hilarious news site, headquartered at the fictional 420 Balls Ave. They live-tweet Seattle City Council meetings, break news that no one else is covering and happily praise or troll lawmakers they love or hate. (They famously call Washington’s governor “Bae Inslee.”)
“We want to get people into local politics because local politics is fun and it’s funny and it’s personality-driven and it has a lot of trappings of what people like about celebrities or what people like about sports,” Olsen said.
She described it as “Mystery Science Theater for C-SPAN,” explaining hyper-local issues in an entertaining and informative way while giving people something to do.
In 2016, they created an image for people to put on their smartphone lock screens that told them which initiatives were safe to sign — minimum wage, gun safety and protection for hotel workers — and which ones to avoid — a transphobic bathroom bill and a Tim Eyman initiative.
Once a year, they put a massive amount of time into a Seattlish Voter Guide, a handy guide that is informative with just the right amount of snark.
For the presidential race, they wrote, simply: “You know what to do. Don’t make us say it.”
Visit their website or follow Seattlish on Twitter @seattlish.
South Seattle Emerald
The South Seattle Emerald is an online news outlet dedicated to elevating the voices of communities in Southeast Seattle. Born out of desire to present a fuller picture of what’s happening in areas such as Hillman City and Rainier Valley, the South Seattle Emerald is proving itself to be an essential news source. Marcus Green is the founder and editor-in-chief. He grew up in Rainier Beach.
“We were founded on the principle that too often in the mainstream media South Seattle and especially the marginalized communities that live here are either ignored or misrepresented,” Executive Director Marilee Jolin said. “Marcus often says growing up he only saw South Seattle in the news if someone had been shot here.”
In balancing the narrative, they are reflecting a life residents are familiar with. Recent articles include highlighting a Beacon Hill dance studio aimed at including all types of people in classes, another showcases a Columbia City bicycle shop. South Seattle Emerald is also a place to go for news of the day, commentary and poetry.
South Seattle Emerald operates as a reader-supported nonprofit. A network of about 40 contributors help create new content for the website. Read it online or on Twitter @SoSeaEmerald.
KNKX and KUOW
In 1970, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting established the National Public Radio service, which now reaches 98 percent of American homes, from rural Appalachia to right here in Seattle. Locally, KUOW and KNKX connect our region with a national network of information and communication.
On the air since 1952, the station that we now know as KUOW has a mission to create and serve an informed public. General Manager Caryn Mathes explained in an online statement that radio journalism is changing in this new age: “Yet our work isn’t done simply if people are listening. Are we moving your heart, challenging your thinking, broadening your field of vision?” Mathes said. “That’s what KUOW aims to do.”
Thanks to listener support, Seattle continues to have KNKX (formerly KPLU) and has maintained two NPR stations.
For Director of Content Matt Martinez, KNKX has two main roles: to steward the American art form of jazz and to tell stories about the Pacific Northwest. With listenership from the coast of the Pacific to Victoria B.C., Martinez sees the station as a part of a vital journalistic medium. “KNKX’s newsroom is a jewel of the Pacific Northwest,” Martinez said. “It is small, but mighty.”
Public radio is an American tradition, but its advent was one of the most defining moments of communication technology. The spirit pioneered nearly a 100 years ago by the first public radio stations is carried on by KUOW and KNKX. As Martinez put it, “NPR and all of public radio will continue to be a bastion of solid reporting.”
Tune in to 88.5 (KNKX) and 94.9 (KUOW).
Honorable Mention: The Seattle Times
Just before the December holidays, the Times announced that it was losing newsroom staffers, an announcement that is starting to feel like a gloomy annual tradition. In January, The Seattle Times let go of 23 newsroom staffers. Just two months later, Seattle Times-owned Issaquah Press announced it would be shut down as well — an institution that has served the community for more than a century gone.
The Real Change newsroom collectively tipped its hat to The Stranger’s Heidi Groover, who tweeted some important perspective to the Times’ financial situation. Sure, a lot of people are angry with The Seattle Times Editorial Board, and its opinions seem frightfully out of step with progressive Seattle. But when a news outlet suffers, Groover wrote, the Editorial Board doesn’t go anywhere.
“Unsubscribing hurts reporting, not opinion,” Groover tweeted on Jan. 7. “And less reporting means fewer facts about the issues you care about.”
This is why, while we love KUOW, we were glad to see the community rally and save KNKX. We need to maintain our newsrooms in the days ahead.
It warms our hearts that The Washington Post is expanding its staffing and that people are subscribing to The New York Times in response to the election of President Donald Trump.
But don’t lose sight of the news happening right here.