"Journalism, news reporting really, was all I ever wanted to do as kid growing up in Oklahoma," says Greg Shaw. He worked as a high-school stringer for his hometown newspaper, the Tulsa World, and paid for college working at the Cherokee Advocate, the tribal paper of the Cherokee Nation. But there the journalism trial ended. He went on to write speeches for the Department of the Interior, became a media rep for Microsoft, then joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Now, back to that dream: This morning, Shaw was named publisher-to-be of Crosscut.com, taking over for founder David Brewster in September.
His first mission, of course, is to save Crosscut. As Brewster said last month, despite recent downsizing and fundraising, his respected news and commentary website is struggling to survive. "We could lose Crosscut, just as the region has lost the print Post-Intelligencer and the Eastside Journal and numerous other websites that have tried to partially fill these voids."
The site has been operating on what Brewster calls cost-cutting summer hours, with fewer contributors and stories, temporarily reducing staff. "We need the period to refuel the venture and to develop a new plan and new leadership for Crosscut." He was also searching for his replacement, and the job was reportedly offered to ex-P-I managing editor David McCumber (who couldn't be reached for comment).
But Shaw is delighted to take a crack at it, including helping devise a new business model. "I am committed to doing all that I can," he says. "Our situation is not desperate, but it is urgent. Recent financial commitments to Crosscut are encouraging but not yet sufficient."
Brewster, Seattle Weekly's former publisher, says he was looking for a replacement who had a "change-the-world" mentality about work and social change.
"Obviously, you don't work at places such as Microsoft and the Gates Foundation without picking up this orientation," Brewster says. "My hope would be a reinvigorated, much more impactful Crosscut that marries the civic generation that I grew up reporting about, and the Next Seattle readers, movers, and shakers. Who better than Greg to pull this off?"
Brewster will continue to write for Crosscut after he semi-retires in mid-September, and will remain on the Xcut board of directors. Another hire is still in the works to fill a newly created position of Editor of Crosscut, who will report to Shaw.