Update: David Brewster tells us he'll "soon" reveal the identity of the person to replace him as editor/publisher of Crosscut and "that we have narrowed our search to a leading candidate." Also, Publicola's writers will be working half-time to start at Crosscut, their pay increasing when new funding becomes available. More after the jump.
Posted yesterday at 5:30: PublicCola, the three-year-old city politics website, folded its tent today and appears to be heading for the greener pastures of Crosscut.com, where, one of its writers tells us, publisher David Brewster is negotiating with former P-I editor David McCumber to return to Seattle and take over as editor-publisher of an expanded Web production at Crosscut's Pioneer Square offices.
Brewster's cell phone was dead when we tried to reach him and he hasn't responded to an e-mail. But one of his writers says "they're talking to McCumber" in hopes of working out an editorship deal that could lead to more aggressive coverage of Seattle and Northwest politics, the environment and social issues.
Picking up PubliCola's editor Josh Feit and political writer Erica Barnett would work neatly into that plan. Feit announced his site's sudden shutdown this afternoon with the headline "PubliCola 2009-2012; Look for Us on Crosscut.com."
The site has been well read but less successful as a business, Feit wrote. "Advertising revenue has been limited and inconsistent," he said (the site issued an appeal to readers for $10,000 in donations three months ago). But, "Starting soon, you can read our Morning Fizz and Afternoon Jolt columns on Crosscut.com," Feit announced, adding:
Thankfully for local political news junkies, Crosscut.com, the local news site started by David Brewster, the founder and publisher-editor of Seattle Weekly for 21 years and the the founder of Town Hall, believes PubliCola's reporting is invaluable for this city's civic and political life. He wants to do everything he can to keep our reporting alive. During the last several weeks, we've been exploring ways to collaborate. (In fact, we're currently squatting in Crosscut's awesome Pioneer Square offices, having boxed up and left our one-room Cola HQ in Belltown for good last week.)
McCumber, the last managing editor of the P-I before it folded its print edition in 2009, has been editor of the Hearst-owned The Advocate and Greenwich Time in Stamford, Conn., and editorial director of the Hearst Connecticut Media Group. His paper dutifully reported his DUI arrest last year.
Neither McCumber's arrival nor the PubliCola addition is a done deal, however, we're told. "It comes down to money, like it always does," said our source.
Update: Here's Brewster's e-mail response to our questions about PublicCola and McCumber's likely new role as Crosscut's chief:
Hearing that [Publicola] was running out of funding, I approached Josh and Erica to see, if Publicola dies, they would want to work for Crosscut. Looks like a good idea. I only have money now to hire them each at half time, officed at Crosscut, and staying on their beats. Out raising money to enable them to become full time, which is the plan and the hope. They'd stay on their current beats. This is not a merger with Publicola, nor is one foreseen; the hope is to hire two reporters only. Glad to be able to have a shot at keeping them at their work and migrating them to Crosscut.
Nothing I can say about the hiring process to find a new editor/publisher for Crosscut, replacing me, except that we have narrowed our search to a leading candidate and are busy raising the funding to consummate the hiring and add other desired new aspects to Crosscut. We should have an announcement soon. For obvious reasons of job security, I can't say anything about the identity of the candidates. The new editor/publisher position is not related to the Publicola developments, even though it happens to coincide.
Hats off, I say, to the owners of Publicola for launching this valuable site and letting these sharp and energetic reporters do good work these past three years. We can ill afford to lose them.
Brewster adds more this morning in an announcement on Crosscut, noting "I hope [the hiring] proves a long-term fix, a way for Barnett and Feit to reach a wider audience, and for Crosscut readers to have more news and a wider range of interpretive commentary."