Two new media produced scoops in Spokane – from very different angles | Local News | Spokane | Interior of the Pacific Northwest

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Range receives funding from a progressive group, while The Center Square receives money from the conservative DonorsTrust.

Ohen the Interior arrives for his interview with the trio of journalists from Interval Last Thursday, we are asked to wait in the lobby. They scramble to set up their latest presentation and just need 15 more minutes.

The article ends up being an in-depth follow-up to allegations of embezzlement by an administrative employee of the Guardians Foundation, a major provider of homeless shelters in the area. Just two days earlier, Interval announced that the former head of the Spokane Department of Neighborhood, Housing and Human Services sent a scathing 27-page memo outlining a litany of issues at City Hall.

What started as a lockdown-era hobby project podcast has grown into a formidable journalistic force where “people send us material of serious importance,” says publication founder Luke Baumgarten, a former Interior staff member.

This summer, Baumgarten hired former High Country News and Weekly Eugene journalist Carl Segerstrom. Amid a heat wave in July, Segerstrom spent seven straight days dropping off dispatches from Camp Hope, East Central’s sprawling homeless encampment.

“We see it as our duty to fill in blind spots or undercovered communities,” Segerstrom said.

And Interval isn’t Spokane’s only new entry into the world of journalism: The central squarea nonprofit local news service that operates in all 50 states and is funded by the formerly conservative Franklin News Foundation Grandstand of the deer park Journalist RaeLynn Ricarte wrote two to three hard stories each weekday.

She was the first to report that former city council president Ben Stuckart had resigned from the city’s continuum of care board due to a conflict of interest. Credits from County Commissioner Josh Kerns The central square to be “one of the few news outlets to consistently cover county government”.

At a time when local newspapers across the country are closing, leaving deserts of news in their wake, Spokane has a growing ecosystem of news stories. But these new alternative models also face their own limitations and potential conflicts to manage.

LENS DESIGNERS

rudely said, Interval is on the left, while The central square is on the right. Neither, however, want to present themselves as ideological hacks. Instead, they both maintain that they offer journalism through a separate lens.

Baumgarten says Interval has a “community priority, beginning with the powerless”. Interval is more interested in stealing wages than stealing property, more interested in homeless campers than their angry close neighbors.

“Community is our bias,” he says, paraphrasing the third and final staff member of Intervalpublic and member editor Valérie Osier.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Lott, The central square‘s regional editor for the Pacific Northwest, says their angle is to report “from the taxpayer’s perspective.”

As an example, a recent headline read, “Sailors down 0-2 streak, Washington taxpayers down hundreds of millions.

Conservative Spokane Councilman Jonathan Bingle praises both posts, but says he likes “Central place personally, because they give me the greatest jolt.”

The more progressive City Council Speaker Breean Beggs, however, argues that Central place seems much more politically motivated than Interval.

Central place in my view, it’s just about trying to change the election results,” Beggs says. “They seem very connected to the political machine of Cathy McMorris Rodgers at the local level.

WHOSE INK?

If your publication is seen as pushing an agenda – and if you don’t wear the mantle of a traditional medium – this can sometimes put you at a disadvantage.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich refused to allow a Interval journalist to attend a press conference on September 23. “I thought he was just another activist. And I figure I don’t have time for activists,” Knezovich told reporters from other outlets later. “I’m done talking to activists.”

Segerstrom says he’s jealous of the kind of access that Central place seems to get.

“We tend to quote Republicans more than Democrats, but that’s just because they’ll quote us,” says Central placeit’s Lott.

But critics also hammer Central place for its funding streams — which have included millions of dollars from right-wing megafunds like DonorsTrust.

Baumgarten, meanwhile, was the arts and culture editor for the ad-supported magazine Interior, before going to work in advertising. But he doesn’t want ads to support Interval. He worries about their influence.

“It’s not a great feeling as a journalist knowing there’s a big story that could cost you your career because you can’t bite the hand that feeds,” Baumgarten wrote in a Reddit thread. august. (The Interior has a policy of separating its information collection and advertising decisions.)

But if a publication doesn’t have hands that feed it, it starves. Currently Interval only has about 260 paying subscribers – they would need at least 2,000 to survive on memberships alone.

Instead, 85% of the funding comes from business loans and grants, from companies like Facebook-owner Meta, and the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, which provided Interval with $35,000, or about a quarter of Intervalincome.

And it’s messy. The couple who run the fund, Don Barbieri and Sharon Smith, have not only donated to local politicians with a decidedly liberal leaning, they have also contributed financially to Jewels Helping Hands, the nonprofit runs Camp Hope.

They were the fiscal sponsor overseeing Jewels Helping Hands’ bid to become a homeless shelter provider in 2019, lobbying the city on Jewels’ behalf and trying to work out issues with Jewels’ rival Guardians Foundation.

“I didn’t know that,” says Segerstrom, who wrote a largely positive profile about Jewels founder Julie Garcia for Interval in July.

Today, Smith tells the Interior that the progressive fund does not currently have a formal relationship with Jewels Helping Hands, but still offers occasional donations.

Baumgarten says Barbieri and Smith offer them encouragement and praise, but don’t try to influence what they write.

In a recent Reddit thread about the Guardians embezzlement scandal, someone suggested that Interval scrutinize Jewels Helping Hands.

“Our DMs are open if you have any specific information or a place where we can start digging,” Interval responded, encouraging responses. ♦

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