Crosscut started as a local, online source for the latest in Seattle news. Since launching in 2007, the team has grown along with its coverage, focusing on the Pacific Northwest. In 2015, Crosscut merged with KCTS 9 public television. They focus on politics and public policy, race and equity, arts and culture and the environment.

Three years ago, Crosscut premiered the Crosscut Festival. Andrea O'Meara, Community Engagement Manager, explains how being a news outlet changes their approach on programming and speakers. And how to balance public suggestions while staying true to the scope of a newsroom.

The following has been edited for length and clarity. Excerpt begins at 14:52.

Michelle Lee: Is all of the programming solicited by your team? Are you guys seeking it out or do folks submit, "Oh, like I'd love to speak on this." Is it a mix?

Andrea O'Meara: Kind of. We do have a call for submissions. We get a lot of emails from the public coming back in saying, "Oh, I'd love to see this person," or, "I'd love to hear a session on this," And some are great and some are not, not as great – and that's okay, because it's a big public request.

We don't ask for people to apply to speak, because the program is so -- it's curated really by our newsroom. So they are deciding what they want and then going out and finding the people that fit those titles.

So unlike other conferences where people might apply, we really solicit ideas, but not speaker requests.

Like last year we did a panel on like the Rise of Socialism in Washington state. And then our programming team went out and filled that panel with the appropriate people from the city council or --

ML: Right. Who could speak to that topic.

AO: Exactly.

ML: Rather than like, you know, a person saying, "I would like to speak on something-something-something."

AO: Right. And that's fine if they do that and if there is an appropriate place for them that might be great, but I think that's kind of rare at this point.

We're really going out and looking for people to fit within our topics.

ML: That's interesting, because, you know, I mean, all events are really different and some are more, call for submissions and proposals. And others are more just like, "What would you guys like to hear about ?" And kind of, obviously, your newsroom and your editorial team sort of driving that vision of Crosscut festival every year.

AO: Yeah, exactly. And we always want to make sure it fits within the mission of the organization too. So they kind of keep it pretty tight to what, and, of course, we want all different points of view. We've had sessions on like the future of the Republican Party, the future of the Democratic Party. So it's not a partisan thing, but it is keeping within the scope of like the newsroom. You know?

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