The Seattle Globalist, a nonprofit online journalism outlet based out of the University of Washington's Seattle campus, has spent the last four years of reporting on Seattle's diverse neighborhoods and training writers across the city to report on their communities. (Full disclosure: I worked for The Seattle Globalist in the past.)
But because of looming university budget cuts, the news organization could disappear within a year. In September, UW officials announced that the school would no longer fund the Globalist come June 2017. The Globalist has since launched the #PowerYourMedia fundraising campaign to raise $5,000 in monthly subscribers by the end of December to keep their doors open.
Since launching at the start of the month, the organization has raised $1,304.
The loss of funding came as a shock, said Sarah Stuteville, education director and co-founder of the Globalist. The organization had budgeted for having at least two more years of funding from UW, but budget cuts throughout the university cut that short.
Stuteville and co-founders Jessica Partnow and Alex Stonehill also work in the UW Department of Communication as "artists in residence," which includes teaching undergraduate- and graduate-level journalism classes part-time and mentoring students. The UW communication school, which pays for their teaching salaries, also suffered from the budget cuts. As a result, the trio's teaching hours will also be cut.
Losing that funding from the UW, which accounted for about 50 percent of the Globalist's budget, "sent us into a crisis," said Stuteville.
The $5,000 monthly subscription, which the Globalist is trying to raise by the end of the month to stay afloat, would allow the organization to operate as a scaled-down version of the site, allowing them to retain at least one full-time editorial staffer, pay contributors and columnists, and continue educational programming for youth and the community, which is "core to the role of the [organization]," said Stuteville.
As noted in this year's two #JournalismSoWhite discussions, writers of color face a number of barriers to entering the journalism field, including low wages and lack of opportunities. In response to this decades-old problem, the Globalist, seeks to train writers, many of who come from marginalized groups, to report on issues affecting their communities.
That dedication to drawing in voices from across the community and commitment to teaching them the basics of storytelling is what drew Rituja Indapure to become a board member in 2014.
"The variety of voices we get from The Seattle Globalist is so unique," she said. "I don't feel like I find that diversity of voices in other media outlets in Seattle."
Financial problems arose over the summer when the Globalist was unable to renew grant funding for some of their programs, including a youth journalism apprenticeship. Two employees were subsequently let go. Since being notified of the UW budget cuts, the nonprofit have cut down their hours and closed their satellite office at the Hillman City Collaboratory.
"The quality of our publication is only as strong as our ability to be out in the community offering people the opportunity to [learn to report] and doing media training to get their voices and issues onto our website," said Stuteville. "We think of ourselves and our organization as a pipeline for creating more diverse journalism."
School-wide budget cuts, to which the Globalist's loss of funding is tied, have also resulted in "declining instructional funds" for UW's Communication department, which resulted in fewer graduate and PhD student admissions to their programs this autumn, said David Domke, the Chair of the communications department.
"These are challenges we’re doing our best to work through, to ensure that quality of teaching and research stay superb," he wrote in an e-mail. "We’re doing it, but economics are tight for all units at UW."
Representatives from UW's Office of Planning & Budgeting did not return calls for comment on why the cuts were made by the time of publication.
What's happening to the Globalist isn't new. Many of Seattle's news publications are struggling. On Wednesday, The Seattle Times announced more upcoming buyouts and layoffs this year. Today, NBC News announced it would shut down Breaking News, which has offices in Seattle and New York, effective Dec. 31.
This is terrifying news as Inauguration Day approaches for President-elect Donald Trump, who has already made alarming statements regarding weakening First Amendment rights for journalists.
"Given the larger conversations about where people can get good information and diverse information, especially in an era of Trump, the ecosystem and our constellation of community media is something [we need] to support and elevate," said Stuteville. "This is a way to get through the tough times ahead."
This story has been updated.