The Seattle Times creates three new local reporting positions funded by a grant from Microsoft Philanthropies

For Immediate Release — May. 13, 2021
Lindsay Taylor, Consumer Marketing Manager

SEATTLE — The Seattle Times has received a $1 million investment from Microsoft Philanthropies, allowing the newspaper to create three new local reporting positions for a three-year period.

Times Publisher Frank Blethen said: “This is The Times’ first $1-million community investment, and is a great way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our unique program to fund public-service journalism and the many individuals, companies, foundations and nonprofits that support it. This program has enabled us to be one of the few newspapers in the country to actually expand its newsroom with 20 additional journalism positions that wouldn’t exist otherwise."

Microsoft Philanthropies has an array of investments and partnerships globally and in Washington state, with a particular focus on how technology can and should benefit humanity and the planet. That includes efforts to use Microsoft’s technology and resources to help address some of the challenges journalism currently faces.

"We deeply appreciate Microsoft’s confidence in The Times’ commitment to high quality, relevant content and community connection,” Blethen said. Executive Editor Michele Matassa Flores stressed the importance of the grant, noting that “local newspapers are the most-trusted sources of news.”

The grant from Microsoft Philanthropies will support three positions:
• A reporter covering city, regional and state politics, with a focus on how geographic and cultural communities throughout the region are affected.
• A reporter covering the post-COVID economic recovery, with a focus on downtown Seattle, neighborhood business districts and the intersection with local governments.
• A graphics reporter focused on presenting news and trends in engaging visual formats.

All reporting will be under the editorial independence and control of The Seattle Times. The stories will be labeled for transparency, to reflect support by Microsoft Philanthropies. The topical areas of coverage were selected through a combination of primary research conducted with readers, a review of analytics measuring reader interest in subject areas, and an assessment by newsroom leadership.

“We are fortunate in the Pacific Northwest to have news reporting from the Seattle Times - one of the last great family newspapers in America,” said Mary Snapp, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Microsoft. “We hope our donation, along with future contributions by others in our community, will keep the Seattle Times strong for years to come. The Times is a cornerstone in the community where Microsoft’s employees live and work. It consistently publishes insightful stories that both reflect the culture in our region and address the issues that are most important to it.”

The Seattle Times is the national leader in developing community funding as a sustainable source of support for public-service journalism projects. Community funding will support 20 newsroom positions with the three additions to the local news staff.

These new reporting positions build upon The Times’ other major community-funded journalism initiatives: Education Lab, Traffic Lab, Project Homeless and the Investigative Journalism Fund.
Journalists and news organizations are facing tough times, with COVID-19 accelerating a pre-existing crisis in local news. To address this, Microsoft also supports a separate journalism initiative which ensures that newsrooms in various pilot cities have the latest tools and technology to tell stories in new ways, connect with community foundations, and experiment with new funding models and sustainable revenue streams. This effort involves five communities across the country and includes The Yakima Herald-Republic, a subsidiary newspaper of The Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times serves the Northwest with independent, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism, as the region’s most trusted news media company, dedicated to public service. The Seattle Times is the most-visited digital information source in Washington state and the second-largest newspaper on the West Coast. Founded in 1896 by Alden J. Blethen, The Seattle Times’ stewardship is now led by the Blethen family’s fourth and fifth generations, whose stewardship also includes The Yakima Herald-Republic and The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.