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.