Frank Blethen promotes “openness, transparency, accountability”

Frank Blethen

Frank Blethen

Frank Blethen and The Seattle Times were awarded the 2010 James Madison Award by the Washington Coalition for Open Government at a breakfast Sept. 17 at The Conference Center in downtown Seattle.

The coalition is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to “promoting and defending the public’s right to know in matters of public interest and in the conduct of the public’s business.”

(Full disclosure: I am a member of the WCOG’s Advisory Council and was editorial writer and associate editorial-page editor at The Seattle Times from 1977-1990, when Frank Blethen was publisher.)

Frank’s acceptance speech was pretty interesting. The entire speech is worth reading and will be posted on The Seattle Times’ website soon.

For now, here are a few highlights:

“Good journalism, including the pursuit of all aspects of openness and transparency, is hard and often lonely work.”

“When the powerful and wealthy are permitted to operate without scrutiny and without accountability we become a nation whose government and economy are run by secretive elites.”

“For many reasons these are dangerous days for our nation. One of the root reasons is that we have lost our popular independent press.”

“[W]e have come under the control of monolithic corporate ownership. For the most part, they have turned our Watchdog into their Lapdog, leaving us in a dangerous vacuum of too many untold stories, too little scrutiny, and too little transparency.”

“Without openness, transparency and accountability, otherwise principled and moral people can succumb to illegal and immoral behavior.”

I was especially pleased to hear the words transparency, accountability and openness so many times, because I believe those are vital for news media organizations as well as government, business and other institutions.


About John Hamer
JOHN HAMER is President of the Washington News Council, an independent forum for media fairness that he co-founded in 1998. Hamer was formerly Associate Editorial-Page Editor at The Seattle Times and previously Associate Editor with Congressional Quarterly/Editorial Research Reports in Washington, D.C. Read more about John or read John's blog posts.


  1. Glad to hear it. But will he take the pledge?

    • brianglanz says:

      Jacob, that’s a great point.

      The Seattle Times is first on the dais for news in our community. In fact I recently searched for “Seattle” and they were the number two result, after! so their place in our community goes beyond the news.

      Considering how the search engines rank things, they’ve won a sort of election and with that they have responsibilities, of course. When The Times has a chance to affirm their commitment to transparency, accountability, and openness they should take it.