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"completely separate from the journalism functions of the newspaper"
October 19, 2012 9:40 AM   Subscribe

The Seattle Times will run campaign ads supporting Washington Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and the state's pro-same sex marriage measure Referendum-74, paid for by the Seattle Times Co..
posted by scaryblackdeath (29 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good. The notion that popular media in the United States is "fair and balanced" is bizarre and unsupported by evidence. I'd rather have popular media make their positions known (so that consumers can view what they read/watch with that in mind) rather than hidden under the guise of "objectivity" (so that consumers are unaware of media's influence by politicians and corporations).

Transparency is better than pretend objectivity.
posted by saeculorum at 9:43 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


The weirdest part is that I'm reading about this in the Seattle Times.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:46 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


What does it say about the future of your advertising-supported medium when you have to buy ads yourself to convince advertisers that advertisements are worth buying?
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:51 AM on October 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I find it hard to be too critical of things people do as they're dying but fuck the Seattle Times.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:53 AM on October 19, 2012 [18 favorites]


"Fair and balanced" refers to (ought to refer to) issues that have two legitimate sides. For matters that are factual or self-evident, equal time ought not given to those cranks who oppose reality. These matters include matters of science, and those of equality. Same-sex marriage really is just a matter of giving people equal rights, and oppressive asshats who oppose it are not due attention that might legitimize their opinions.
posted by explosion at 9:55 AM on October 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


After the election, the Seattle Times will buy ads in the Times asking people to buy the Times.
posted by inturnaround at 9:55 AM on October 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think the Seattle Times figured out how to monetize trolling in meatspace. This will end up with memes manifesting themselves in our streets, and rage-faces will peer into our windows at night. FourChan has achieved singularity.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:57 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


On further reading, I'm confused. They support a candidate opposed to same-sex marriage, but they support a Referendum in favor of such?
posted by explosion at 9:57 AM on October 19, 2012


Impressive: They've ticked off non-employees on the left by supporting McKenna, non-employees on the right by supporting 74, and employees by damaging their image of impartiality.

What is McKenna's stance on 74? I assume he's against?
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 9:58 AM on October 19, 2012


Over 100 Seattle Times Newsroom Employees Sign a Letter Saying Their Paper's Political Ad Buy "Undermines" Their Journalism


And, truly, that's what this is about. I don't really think shifting the money around this particular way is a big deal, but it certainly feels like a big deal if you're a person who thinks about things like journalism ethics and especially if you're thinking about those things because it will affect your day-to-day life. As Bart Simpson wisely said, "Grampa! I don't mind when you spit at home, but I have to work with these people."
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:00 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


How will they be able to show that the ads were effective? There is so much other coverage of major political campaigns, that I don't see a good way to isolate the effect of some newspaper ads. Lacking such evidence, how will these purchases convince other potential advertisers that buying ad space in the Seattle Times works?
posted by Area Man at 10:00 AM on October 19, 2012


The Times has always been the "right-leaning" paper in town, (RIP Post-Intellegencer), so behavior like this is not surprising. I think they did actually endorse Obama or something cray cray like that, but it's still a rag.
posted by Windopaene at 10:01 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the risk of editorializing on my post: I'm someone who thinks that a "no" vote on R-74 (i.e., voting to deny same sex marriage) is nothing short of vile... but I honestly think this is a bad development for news media. I posted this without being sure of whether other newspapers follow any similar practice, so I'm not entirely sure if this is unique. But even when they're going my way on something (yay, same sex marriage rights!), I find this to be unsettling as a practice.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:03 AM on October 19, 2012


I should also note: I totally agree that the Seattle Times is a complete rag. Their reporting on Initiative 1240 (which would open WA to charter schools) is painfully slim on details. Their coverage of major crimes is also usually awful.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:06 AM on October 19, 2012


Wow. I guess that Seattle's residents must be getting nostalgic for the rain after their historic dry spell, if they're considering putting this guy in charge of their state...
posted by schmod at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I hadn't already canceled my print subscription the day they published this piece of hate disguised as opinion by a "guest columnist", I'd be canceling it today. And it even took a phone call to cancel, of course, which I hate.

I kept a weekend subscription as an attempt at supporting print media, but I just can't do it via The Seattle Times anymore. And, oh, the argument I had with the customer service rep when I called! She tried to tell me that the column was an advertisement over which they had no control. When I corrected her, she tried to convince me to let them keep delivering for the rest of our pre-paid subscription period. I was practically shouting at this point that I did NOT want to see that paper on my porch again. I managed to keep my potty mouth in check, but barely.

So, so long, Seattle Times. I'll still look at the on-line version, with AdBlock. But no more cash money from me. And more importantly, you just lost an actual print subscriber.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 10:29 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


They are not a rag. They are a decent newspaper, though I heartily disagree with their editorial page a lot of the time. But this decision is so wrong that it makes me want to cancel my subscription. Not that I will -- there is really no alternative to the Times anymore.

This isn't the first time I've mourned the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and I am sure it won't be the last.
posted by bearwife at 11:21 AM on October 19, 2012


We have a newspaper that isn't The Stranger?
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on October 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


I used to love this paper. Then they started ignoring my community (while reporting on every city, town and unincorporated stop light around us). And now this. We only subscribe because my wife is old-fashioned enough to want a physical newspaper in her hands (and their, uh, regular ads are kinda helpful, as are their regional event calendars). Bleah.
posted by lhauser at 11:25 AM on October 19, 2012


oppressive asshats who oppose it are not due attention that might legitimize their opinions.

They may not be due attention, but they are due a fair shake by those news media organizations who support freedom of speech. In my opinion, openly supporting one side over another with propaganda (not counting endorsements), undermines free speech for everyone in Washington in a small but not insignificant way.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:27 AM on October 19, 2012


The notion that popular media in the United States is "fair and balanced" is bizarre and unsupported by evidence. I'd rather have popular media make their positions known ... rather than hidden under the guise of "objectivity"

The local NPR station is having its pledge drive this week, and this morning one of the on-air commentors cited NPR's "balance" and "objectivity." And I thought, whoa there! Sometimes "balance" isn't "objective", especially as NPR has been bending over backwards to present the claims of the various political campaigns -- which, sometimes at least, can be objectively true or objectively false -- as "balanced" "he said, she said" items.

Striving for a phony balance undermines objective reporting -- something NPR's new ombudsperson recognized, I might add.
posted by Gelatin at 11:58 AM on October 19, 2012


If I could cancel my subscription again, I would!

Which may mean that this is about winnowing audience or something? If you prequalify the subscription base to accept this sort of thing, I suppose you can charge more for ads.

I canceled during the strike years ago, swapped to the P-I. RIP.

Also, as I recall, in the 1970s the Times was consistently to the left of the P-I. I had thought they embraced the goo-goo good government reformers and historical preservers that gave us the Seattle Process and Pike Place Market. If I am incorrect, I welcome further info.
posted by mwhybark at 12:28 PM on October 19, 2012




This sounds like a cry for help.
posted by Danf at 1:46 PM on October 19, 2012


Striving for a phony balance undermines objective reporting -- something NPR's new ombudsperson recognized, I might add.

Not just the ombudsman (personal opinion - Schumacher-Matos is a bush league clown who has no understanding of journalistic ethics, but besides that point, he has no authority to make changes to NPR coverage) but in February, NPR rewrote its ethics guidelines to codify truthfinding as more important than balance.
At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources. So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports. We strive to give our audience confidence that all sides have been considered and represented fairly.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:15 PM on October 19, 2012


There isn't a single newspaper left in Seattle that's worth a shit. I miss the P-I. Solid reporting, especially when they had the budget for investigative journalism. I didn't always agree with their editorial pages but I never felt like wadding the whole mess up and hurling it out the nearest window.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:19 PM on October 19, 2012


This is kind of fascinating to me, especially since I just finished reading this New Yorker article on the Times Of India, which talks about a thriving newspaper which is dismantling the firewall between journalism and advertising sales. (Sadly article is paywalled.)
posted by hippybear at 5:50 PM on October 19, 2012


Here's an interesting story I came across about the publisher of the Seattle Times.

Publisher Charged In Shooting Of Dog

Even more interestingly, it was published in the Seattle times, perhaps an example of "Eating your own dogfood."
posted by JackFlash at 5:50 PM on October 19, 2012


A friend said her mom couldn't get through to cancel their subscription because the phone lines are always busy, presumably with lots of others doing the same.

But this decision is so wrong that it makes me want to cancel my subscription. Not that I will -- there is really no alternative to the Times anymore.

You can still read the Seattle Times online without giving them money and circulation numbers via your subscription. And you can subscribe to a decent newspaper like the New York Times if you need something in print.
posted by grouse at 9:40 PM on October 19, 2012


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