What’s in a Name? So Long, Crosscut


Crosscut.com, the name that is, not the news site, is about to float into the dustbin of history. KCTS, the owner of Crosscut since 2015, has decided to merge the names into a new umbrella brand, Cascade PBS, that stresses the geographic reach and the public-television aspects.  Crosscut’s writers will continue to cover the news, though with more of an eye on how news items translate into television segments.

As a founder of Crosscut.com in 2007, I remember how we came up with the name of Crosscut. The first oddity is that since Crosscut is a nonprofit, why it isn’t Crosscut.org? At the time, the name crosscut.org was taken, so we chose crosscut.com. Initially, Crosscut was a for-profit venture, so that dot-com made sense. After shifting to nonprofit status, the name and brand was fixed, so when KCTS-9 purchased Crosscut in December, 2015, it kept the full name, with an eye on keeping Crosscut semi-autonomous.

Back in 2007, we had a long list of possible names. I prevailed on my friend Gordon Bowker, a professional name expert, to guide our discussion. Gordon advised us to pick a name that was “both unique and credible,” and to opt for names with two syllables. He also advised that a name with hard consonants was better for remembering, particularly hard-C’s. (Cascade PBS keeps those two hard-Cs.) As I recall, we founders each wrote down a preferred name from the list, and Crosscut was the top choice. Bowker then showed the name he had written down, and it too was Crosscut. Bingo!

The meaning behind the name was “against the grain,” as well as an echo of Northwest forestry. Bowker had advised us that generic names (like Observer or News) were easy to confuse, and that clever regionalisms like “Seattle Salmon” had all kinds of buried meanings (fish wrapper) that we should avoid. I also liked the implied metaphor of different rings and varied voices, back in the days of seeking a heterodox audience rather than (today’s preference) a targeted and loyal membership. Soon, we got a lot of calls looking for the lumber store, Crosscut Hardwoods.

When KCTS-9 purchased Crosscut.com, I expected that the merger would quickly blend the worlds of television and a news website. Instead the merger of media proved to be a slow process, as early editors of Crosscut resisted the crossover-media idea and the proud television producers at KCTS suspected that the Crosscut people knew words, not visuals.

Now, as the umbrella name suggests, the living-together arrangement has ripened into a marriage. I will miss the old name and its tagline: “News from the great nearby.” And I raise my glass to Cascade PBS.

David Brewster
David Brewster
David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and Crosscut.com. His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.


  1. I hope Cascade PBS knows that the name Crosscut remains an asset and finds a way to repurpose it. Perhaps as the name for a feisty interview show or platform for contrarian viewpoints.

  2. I endorse Tom’s suggestion that someone should recycle the name Crosscut for another against-the-grain platform. It was a great name; it’s too bad they changed it to something that’s pretty generic and widely used–at least in this neck of the woods—and not nearly as evocative or memorable.

  3. “Cascade PBS” seems like a generic (but vanilla safe) name to me. Doesn’t really evoke much of anything, other than that it’s something vaguely NW-focused.

    But, whatever. I don’t actually care that much about the name. It’s the content of the site that stands out to me (and not in a particularly good way, though there are some exceptions). Crosscut’s hard turn towards ostentatiously wokety woke identitarian earnestness a few years ago peaked at something approaching self-parodic levels — more than once in the post-2020 era I’ve read a Crosscut piece and thought to myself, “Man, this piece is just crying out for a Dave Chappelle parody sketch!”

    That seems to have toned down a bit in the site’s latest iteration, though when it comes to (the often odd) shot selection and (too often predictable) framing, the cosmopolitan progressive piety guardrails they operate under are still quite visible. I can’t believe that level of narrow, predictable piousness makes for a great editorial strategy or appeals to all that many readers, but again, whatever, who needs readers when you have such front-and-centered virtue? Welcome to fuckin’ Seattle.

  4. I used to read Crosscut but in last several years it became beyond boring. Probably the dullest web site I’ve ever seen.

    That said, years ago it had some decent articles.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments Policy

Please be respectful. No personal attacks. Your comment should add something to the topic discussion or it will not be published. All comments are reviewed before being published. Comments are the opinions of their contributors and not those of Post alley or its editors.