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The Seattle Globalist: A glimpse into entrepreneurial journalism

Sarah Stuteville

Nearly a year after the birth of the Seattle Globalist, a daily online news source that focuses on international stories grounded in Seattle’s local community, co-founder Sarah Stuteville sat down with me to discuss her journey and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneurial journalist.

As a Seattle Times columnist, professor of entrepreneurial journalism and co-founder of nonprofit news site Seattle Globalist, Sarah Stuteville is a busy woman.

Stuteville, along with fellow Hunter College graduates Alex Stonehill and Jessica Partnow, co-founded the Common Language Project, now known as the Seattle Globalist, in 2006.

Now Stuteville balances grading papers and writing articles with doing what a new crop of  journalists are doing more and more — running and growing their own news organization.

“We were interested in doing multimedia international journalism, particularly at a time where there was a lot of new stuff happening in multimedia storytelling, but also there was a decrease of international coverage because of the journalism crisis,” Stuteville said.

At the Common Language Project, Stuteville and her colleagues told global stories, covering issues from the water crisis in East Africa to refugee issues in the Middle East.

“That was really our focus, learning to do innovative multimedia journalism, and then also telling underreported international stories,” Stuteville said.

When Stuteville, Stonehill, and Partnow returned to their native Seattle in 2009, they realized that they had something to offer an area whose international communities and ties had grown to become a significant part of Seattle culture.

“I think all three of us realized that there was a real need here in the Pacific Northwest for more international coverage,” Stuteville said. “Coverage that was really grounded in the communities here…and tells the stories of all of those [cultural] intersections.”

With the recognition of this need, the group moved their efforts from the CLP to the Globalist, now housed in a small office in the communications building at University of Washington, where Stuteville teaches.

Since then, the Globalist has developed into a strong online news source. It publishes stories on a daily basis, maintains partnerships with KUOW and The Seattle Times and counts more than 100 writers among its contributors.

“We’ve seen it grow really fast, and it shows what excitement there is around building that identity,” Stuteville said.

Part of the Globalist’s success has been its reshaping of what it means to be a good news source. Their willingness to think outside of the box of what is considered “normal” journalism also extends to the writers they publish, who range from professionals to untrained journalists.

“It’s not just about having professional journalists report and write and produce stories, but also providing a platform for people who maybe don’t have formal journalism training to be able to tell their stories,” Stuteville said.

The story of the Globalist offers an insight into the world of successful entrepreneurial journalism. Despite these tough times, Stuteville believes it is the most exciting time to enter the field, even as she recognizes that the profession is shifting.

“There’s an understanding that these old models are not going to carry us into whatever comes next, so there’s a real zeitgeist to encourage people to think outside the box,” Stuteville said. “What else can journalism be?”

While Stuteville is clearly passionate about her work, she has to pay the bills. Entrepreneurial journalism is difficult financially, like any profession that requires a person to constantly create. She doesn’t sugarcoat that.

To others thinking of pursuing entrepreneurial journalism, Stuteville offered three pieces of advice:

  1. Be willing to fail: “You are just going to have to fail a lot, and part of building anything on your own…means you’re going to screw up a lot. And it’s not like you’re going to screw up a lot when you just get started…I think you just have to see that as something that makes the job interesting, is that the challenges are always new, and part of it is failing,” Stuteville said.
  2. Be curious: “You have to be curious, you have to see the opportunity instead of the collapse,” she said.
  3. Work hard: “You have to be willing to work hard, but I don’t know in what profession that isn’t true about anymore. It’s not a nine-to-five…there’s no moment where you walk away from this job,” she said.

If Stuteville takes on a lot for one journalist, she never gave the impression that bothered her. As the field continues to shift, her story and that of the Globalist shows that innovation, relentless hard work, and above all passion are always key.

Ola Wietecha is a University of Washington student and an intern with SPJ’s Western Washington chapter. What do you want to know about journalism in our region? Email her at

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