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Late Night: Stand Up for Yourselves

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Via reader JW over at First Draft, here’s a bit of heartening news: 

More than 100 Seattle Times news staffers signed a protest letter Thursday against The Times Co.’s decision to sponsor political ads promoting Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and the Ref. 74 campaign to legalize gay marriage.

The Times launched the campaign with a full-page pro-McKenna ad in Wednesday’s editions. Company officials described the campaign as an effort to demonstrate the effectiveness of newspaper advertising and attract new political-ad revenue.

But the letter from Times newsroom staffers, delivered Thursday to Publisher Frank Blethen, warned the campaign threatened the newspaper’s credibility with readers.

“We strive to remain independent from the institutions we cover. We shine a light on the process from the outside. We are not part of the process. This ad threatens to compromise that integrity,” the letter said, noting The Times had become “part of the campaign’s machinery, creating a perception that we are not an independent watchdog.”

Which is exactly right, and would have been right if the paper’s ads had said the opposite as well. You can’t tell the rest of us about how you’re the last bastion of independent democracy while letting your bosses make a mockery of that upstandingness every single day. There’s always a risk in this kind of protest, sure, but in the end the greater risk is looking like you don’t notice, or don’t care, what is being done in your name.


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Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.