NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

PubliCola closes its doors; writers moving gossip site’s feature columns to Crosscut

Pub­li­Co­la, the polit­i­cal news and gos­sip blog launched by for­mer Stranger news edi­tor Josh Feit three and a quar­ter plus years ago, is ceas­ing pub­li­ca­tion, its founder announced this after­noon.

Feit’s farewell post, which went live just before 3 PM, did­n’t mince words.

“I’ve got a seri­ous after­noon Jolt: Pub­li­Co­la is going out of busi­ness. Sort of,” Feit wrote. He added:

While Pub­li­Co­la has been suc­cess­ful pro­duc­ing influ­en­tial, must-read news cov­er­age and build­ing a loy­al read­er­ship (more than 400,000 month­ly page views dur­ing the elec­tion sea­son and cur­rent­ly more than 10,000 Face­book and Twit­ter fol­low­ers), we haven’t been suc­cess­ful as a busi­ness. Adver­tis­ing rev­enue has been lim­it­ed and incon­sis­tent.

Con­se­quent­ly, the site is shut­ting down, thought Feit says its main fea­tures will con­tin­ue to live on for the time being at Cross­cut, anoth­er local news start­up. Feit and fel­low Pub­li­Co­la writer Eri­ca C. Bar­nett have already moved into Cross­cut’s offices in Pio­neer Square, and may ulti­mate­ly wind up as beat writ­ers for Cross­cut — though no long-term agree­ment has been reached yet.

Feit and Cross­cut founder David Brew­ster have report­ed­ly been in dis­cus­sions about a tie-up for weeks and are still talk­ing.

Feit sound­ed opti­mistic that some­thing will get worked out.

We don’t know where this Cross­cut Pub­liCorner, if you will, is going to lead. But there do seem to be some excit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties: A com­bo of these two promi­nent local news sites—with Crosscut’s in-depth, ana­lyt­i­cal week­ly arti­cles and PubliCola’s on-the-ground, break­ing news—could be awe­some. And we’re con­sid­er­ing it. Plus we could use their infra­struc­ture, edi­tors, and  copy edit­ing (they’ve got all that too). And they could use our younger read­ers and pro­gres­sive voice. This could end up being a real win for the com­mu­ni­ty.

Brew­ster, for his part, told The Stranger’s Dominic Hold­en he is work­ing on rais­ing mon­ey to allow Cross­cut to afford the new hires.

There is an ambi­tious effort to raise this mon­ey over a two-year peri­od to allow us to hire an impres­sive fig­ure as leader of the com­pa­ny… I and the board want to see Cross­cut oper­at­ing at a con­sid­er­ably high­er lev­el of fund­ing in order to have more sta­bil­i­ty, more impact, and more full-time reporters.

Brew­ster is also try­ing to bring aboard for­mer Seat­tle P‑I man­ag­ing edi­tor David McCum­ber to run Cross­cut and over­see its team of writ­ers. The Seat­tle Week­ly reports that dis­cus­sions between Brew­ster and McCum­ber are still ongo­ing.

While we nev­er much cared for Pub­li­Co­la’s gos­sip-laden, horse-race dri­ven fea­tures (Morn­ing Fizz and After­noon Jolt) we did appre­ci­ate the leg­isla­tive ses­sion cov­er­age the site offered, as well as the guest posts and more lengthy sto­ries it pub­lished.

We wish Josh and Eri­ca the best as they decide whether join­ing Cross­cut’s sta­ble of writ­ers is what they want to do long-term.

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