Numbers have never been as meaningful as when Gene Balk gathers and explains them. The Seattle Times’ “FYI Guy” sheds light on top-of-mind topics such as crime (“‘Mean world syndrome’: In some Seattle neighborhoods, fear of crime exceeds reality”) and transportation (“Housing cars or housing people? Debate rages as number of cars in Seattle hits new high”). His column, which began as a blog six years ago, sparks conversations and ultimately, realigns our perspectives. As one of the people who nominated Balk put it, “Seattle wouldn’t understand itself without him.” We agree.
In a shrinking media landscape, one bright spot is Crosscut, an online news magazine that began in 2007 with a tiny staff determined to be another voice covering local politics and policy. Eleven years in, it’s notable not only for surviving, but thriving, nimbly adapting from what began as a for-profit news outlet to the reader-funded nonprofit it is today. After merging with KCTS in 2015 under the umbrella Cascade Public Media, the scrappy news site has significantly bulked up its staff to produce more articles, videos and multimedia coverage, focusing on local politics, culture and the environment, and becoming one of the premier voices reporting what’s happening in the city.