Timely Freelance Payments a Casualty of Crosscut's Transition

Ever since the P-I's print edition went tits up, the question of "who's next?" has been on the lips of many a pundit. Two months ago, on Publicola, mayoral spokesperson Sandeep "Throat" Kaushik all but predicted that the answer to that query would be Crosscut, the regional online news service launched a couple years ago by Seattle Weekly founder David Brewster.

At the beginning of the year, Brewster switched Crosscut from for-profit to non-profit status, hoping to emulate the success of sites like Minnpost. While Brewster acknowledges that "it's not the greatest time to start a nonprofit," he remains optimistic about Crosscut's fund-raising prospects. That said, belts have been tightened to the point where freelancers are no longer getting paid in a timely manner, something Brewster, to his credit, has been up front about.

In a recent email to Crosscut contributors, Brewster wrote: "I'm sorry to have to say the slow-pay for freelance is still an unfortunate fact of life. I'm waiting for a decision on a lead gift that would really launch us, so I hope I can send good news and catch up with past-dues. Thank you very much for staking me and Crosscut; the writing has been first rate. I'm more than grateful: I'm feeling plenty guilty."

Guilt on that front is understandable. But Brewster shouldn't feel guilty about what he's been paying his writers (eventually): anywhere from $25 for a short blog post to $250 for substantive articles, which is on par with the freelance rates of many local print publications, including this one.

Brewster says he's been "subjecting writers to slow pay" for the last couple months as he lines up "the kind of seed funding that will enable us to do things right," adding that he wants "to take Crosscut to a much more significant level of staff and the type of journalism we want to do."

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