When it was announced in October that local online "newspaper" Crosscut had received another $400,000 in grants from the Gates Foundation, bringing their total up to a cool half million, some celebrated the news as the future of journalism, while others fretted over the ethical and free speech implications of journalists relying on wealthy patrons for their livelihood. But recently, a more troubling concern has weighed heavily on my mind, namely: how many children must die to give the likes of Ted van Dyk a media platform?

Recently scanning the Gates Foundation's own overview of its malaria prevention and eradication initiatives, I was shocked to learn that more than one million people a year still die from malaria worldwide, 85 percent of them under the age of five. That's over 850,000 young children dying each year, all due to a tiny insect most folks here in the US consider a mere itchy nuisance.

Yet according to the United Nations, most of these deaths could be avoided, if only the malarial regions of the world weren't short about 250 million insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Nets that only cost about $10 each to manufacture and deliver.

And so while I don't really begrudge giving David Brewster and Skip Berger and Chris Vance a public platform (well, maybe Vance), I can't help but wonder: how many more children could the Gates Foundation have saved had they put that $500,000 into mosquito nets rather than into propping up a forum for old Seattle white guys to tell not-quite-so-old Seattle white guys what they're doing wrong?

Um, 50,000 actually. That's how many children will die to keep Crosscut going for another year or two. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Man, that must be quite a heavy burden for Brewster and his gang to bear. Here's hoping they live up to it.