Sci-Fi in Seattle: New Local Media Venture

Scout cofounder Berit Anderson answers a few questions about her new journalism venture
FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Berit Anderson stretched the frontiers of community-based journalism during her four-year tenure as managing editor of online journal Crosscut. With her new media company, she blows them into outer space.

The member-supported website called Scout aims to provide a nuanced and constructive exploration of world-shaping tech developments—genetic augmentation, workplace automation, private space exploration and more—with a content mix that includes nonfiction stories by investigative journalists and science fiction by acclaimed authors. Yes, sci-fi focused on those same tech topics and set in a future no more than seven years away. Look for Scout’s (joinscout.com) first stories this fall.

What inspired the company’s name?

Berit Anderson: A scout is someone who ventures ahead of the rest and identifies threats, new resources and new opportunities. That’s what we’re trying to do with our members. We see each of them as scouts in their own right, contributing insight and experience that gives the community as a whole a better picture of what’s really happening right now and what the future might hold. Also, we may or may not have a cat named Scout that wouldn’t stop staring at us while we were naming our company.

What is the value of pairing sci-fi set in the very near future with investigative reporting?

BA: As one of our members put it recently, by the time a TechCrunch or a GeekWire reports on the launch of a new Google product, their R&D department is already using science fiction as a blueprint for building their next product. Our goal is to use science fiction to give our readers an edge through strategic foresight.  

What sci-fi character would be the ideal mascot for Scout?

BA: Thufir Hawat, from Frank Herbert’s Dune. Hawat is a Mentat, a discipline prized for its analytical capabilities and attention to nuance. Hawat is a gem among Mentats and an adviser to royalty, helping them to see the benefits and impacts of big, sweeping decisions. Above all, he is fiercely loyal, with an unshakeable moral compass.

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