FRONTLINE: The Seattle Times endorsement procedure unethical - The Western Front: Opinion

FRONTLINE: The Seattle Times endorsement procedure unethical

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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 9:56 am

News sources are not present to endorse opinions as news, but rather to inform the public and leave the decision up to the people. 

The Seattle Times launched a $75,750 ad campaign Wednesday, Oct. 17 promoting Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. The Times also announced a similar promotion in support of Referendum 74 for marriage equality.

The Seattle Times Company is literally paying for political advertisements in their paper, said David Boardman, executive editor and senior vice president of The Seattle Times. 

This editorial board finds this form of endorsement unacceptable. In the journalism department we are taught ethics and the dangers of bias in reporting. Our job as reporters and editors is to keep you informed but never to preach only one side.

There are correct ways to handle endorsements. Opinions and endorsements should be published in the opinion section as an editorial rather than news. 

This editorial board endorses political candidates in the opinion section. The Western Front also does not pay to advertise for a particular camapign.

This editorial board believes that The Seattle Times should no longer act unbiased while covering the gubernatorial campaign.

Further more reporters were not a part of the company’s discussion or decision for the campaign, Boardman said; however, through the company’s endorsement, their credibility has been compromised. 

After participating in this ad campaign, The Times will no longer be able to remain objective in the eyes of the public. Coverage from their reporters will not appear fair or trustworthy

Their coverage of the gubernatorial campaign should no longer be allowed. 

Readers want to make their own decisions about whom they vote for, said Kevin Riley, editor-in-chief of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. National Public Radio’s On the Media, posted a podcast interviewing Riley about endorsements Friday, Oct. 19. 

The Atlanta Journal Constitution is a daily paper that ended editorial endorsements three years ago this month, according to On the Media. 

More than 100 Seattle Times staffers, which includes photographers, designers, reporters, columnists, editors and online news producers drafted a letter to The Times publisher Frank Blethen in protest of the ad campaign, said Jim Brunner of The Seattle Times.

Journalists seek the truth and report it, as well as stay independent, which Boardman said is a core value of The Times. 

Reporters and staffers of The Times, in their letter, said the decision to publish the ads threatens both The Times’ credibility and independence. This prevents them from being the independent watchdog every news organization is obligated to be. 

The Seattle Times publisher needs to reflect better judgment in terms of journalistic integrity. Blethen’s family has owned The Times for almost 117 years, now is not the time to lose the trust of their readers by improperly representing their company and most of their reporters. 

 

The editorial board is comprised of Editor-in-Chief Sarah Aitchison, Managing Editor James Kozanitis and Opinion Editor Joella Ortega

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