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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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