The award-winning online publication The Seattle Globalist has launched a campaign dubbed #PowerYourMedia in an effort to save the nonprofit in the face of budget cuts at the University of Washington Department of Communication, where the Globalist co-founders teach part-time. The support from the department, including office space and equipments, made up about 50% of the Globalist’s operating budget.
To sustain its programs in the coming year, the Globalist needs to raise $5,000 in monthly donations by the end of 2016.
Globalist staffers who worked part-time as faculty members at UW include Jessica Partnow, Alex Stonehill, and Sarah Stuteville, who have been artists in residence in the Department of Communication. For four years, they have relied on their teaching salaries to sustain the Seattle Globalist. But when they were told that the university was ending their artist in residencies two years early starting next academic year, the publication has had to reach out to the community for support.
Their short-term solution to keep the publication going at some capacity is by raising $5,000 in monthly subscriptions by the end of this month.
Stuteville said the #PowerYourMedia campaign is not to replace their salaries from the UW. In fact, the goal amount of the campaign will not be enough for the Seattle Globalist to run the way it was when it had full funding. Stuteville said it will likely fund “one-and-a-half” staff positions, some community engagement programs, and some educational programs.
Before this financial crisis, the Globalist had a yearly youth apprenticeship program, bimonthly community workshops, and was run by five staff members.
“I think we’re doing the best work we’ve ever done right now. [We are] in the biggest crisis we’ve ever faced, but in some ways that’s the exact moment to stare clear-eyed at our organization, at our profession, at the economic models that are and aren’t sustaining it and say, ‘What do we have to do to actually make this work?’ Because it’s not working right now, not really. Not on the money side of things,” Stuteville said.
David Domke, the chair of the UW Department of Communications, said that there might be some teaching opportunities for co-founders of the Seattle Globalist, but the department will not be able to hire them and other part-time faculty members as much anymore. Domke said that the decrease in tuition is one reason for budget cuts that not only affect the department but also other departments in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“A lot of the instruction in the college of arts and sciences—the part of the university we’re located in—is funded by tuition dollars,” Domke said. “And the tuition reduction that has occurred in the last two years for in-state students are great, but they kind of have this ripple effect where there’s just less instructional dollars.”
Domke said that full-time faculty members will be expected to teach more, though he predicted a 10-to-15% cut in the amount of classes taught.
At the time of this writing, the #PowerYourMedia campaign has reached its halfway mark.
The Seattle Globalist is known for its diverse writers, training programs, and local-to-global perspective. Sixty-seven percent of its writers are people of color, 73% women, and 45% immigrants or first-generation Americans.
Stuteville said that her light bulb moment came after she mentored one young writer from the first batch of Seattle Globalist apprentices in 2012, Liliana Caracoza. After completing a six-months’ journalism training and reporting on issues pertaining to her community for the Globalist, Caracoza fundraised for a trip to Mexico and produced a now award-winning documentary of her reporting there. Since then, Stuteville said it became clear that education and training are essential to the publication.
“I don’t think right now people see the work of big media and news institutions as serving their community so they don’t wanna pay for it. But I think with the Globalist, you do see that,” Stuteville said. “So hopefully [people] will be willing to support it.”
On December 29, the Seattle Globalist is hosting an end-of-year film showing party at the Northwest Film Forum. Seattle Globalist subscribers drink for free at the event. For more information, visit seattleglobalist.com.
Disclaimer: Alia Marsha was a 2015 youth apprentice and is a regular contributor for the Seattle Globalist.