Critics are wrong about Dale Chihuly’s fabulous glass art

David Brewster’s recent little blog on, “Chihuly Conquers Boston” (Aug. 8) caught my eye because I saw the Chihuly exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in May. My wife and I spent several hours there. We both thought it was fabulous.

Brewster said the exhibit “drew large numbers…and mixed critical reviews.” He cited two such reviews, one from The Wall Street Journal and one from The Boston Globe. Both were snarky and supercilious. The Globe’s Sebastian Smee, Brewster rightly noted, was “condescending.” Smee called Chihuly’s works “tasteless.” Well, critics must be critical. That’s what they get paid to do.

However, the huge crowds (360,000 plus) that the exhibit attracted in Boston tend to prove the critics wrong. So do the big attendance numbers at the current “Dale Chihuly’s Northwest” exhibit at Tacoma Art Museum, which runs through Sept. 25. I’ve seen that too, and it’s terrific.

The self-anointed cognoscenti may pooh-pooh Chihuly, perhaps to reassure themselves of their own elite sensibilities. But most people genuinely like Chihuly’s extraordinary creations – and have for decades now. The man has quite simply revolutionized the glass art medium and is, justifiably, renowned worldwide.

By the way, Brewster should have disclosed the fact that he opposed the new Chihuly exhibit at Seattle Center, which will open in April 2012, and even testified against it last year.

Full disclosure: My organization, the Washington News Council, will “roast and toast” Chihuly at our 13th annual Gridiron West Dinner on December 15 at Fremont Studios. We have been working closely with the Chihuly team on plans for the event. It’s going to be lots of fun. We’ll do songs, comedy, videos, a slideshow and affectionate “toasts” of Dale.

Our confirmed “toasters” so far include Sally Bagshaw, John Buchanan (who heads the San Francisco Art Museum), Leslie Chihuly, Mimi Gardner Gates and Tom Skerritt. We have invited Jeff Bridges, Jeff Brotman and Quincy Jones, who are friends of Dale’s and collectors of his work. Pretty “tasteless” bunch, huh?

Tickets and tables for the event are going fast, and we’re certain to sell out.

Between now and then, several other events are also scheduled to honor Chihuly and his legacy in this region. Here’s a partial list:

Aug. 14 – Pilchuck Glass School 40th Anniversary Reunion, 12-5 pm, Stanwood (Chihuly was one of Pilchuck’s co-founders. Reservations required.)

Sept. 15 – Tacoma Art Museum “Inspired by Chihuly,” 5-8 pm, Tacoma Art Museum (Chihuly was born in Tacoma and has maintained close ties to TAM.)

Sept. 18 – “Tacoma Celebrates Dale Chihuly,” 3 pm, UW Tacoma’s Philip Hall (Chihuly will turn 70 on Sept. 20.)

Sept. 25 – “Chihuly’s Colleagues & Collaborators,” 1 pm, Tacoma Art Museum (Tributes from glass artists who worked with him.)

Oct. 12-15 – Pilchuck Glass School Auction Tour, Stanwood (Four days of events to showcase Pilchuck artists and their work.)

Oct. 14 – Pilchuck Glass School Annual Auction, 5 pm, The Westin Hotel, Seattle (The 33rd auction to support Pilchuck’s educational programs. Reservations required.)

Oct. 15 – Tacoma Art Museum’s “GALA Deconstructed” Dinner, 6 pm, TAM (Limited seating; reservations required.)

For the vast majority who are delighted and inspired by Chihuly’s work, these all might be of interest. Ignore the critics. They’ve got lousy taste.


APRIL FOOL! We’re not really closing our doors after all….

APRIL FOOL! The press release I sent out last Friday certainly got a big reaction: Lots of people thought it was true! (Or maybe a few hoped it was true….but no such luck.) It was just my idea of having fun — and some people (like my wife) think I have a strange sense of humor.

But to all those who ”bit” and called or emailed with condolences, congrats on a job well done, and inquiries about my next step, I would like to say….SOORRRRRYYYY! But also THANK YOU for the kind words and best wishes. And hey, since you think so highly of everything the News Council has accomplished, please remember that donations are welcome! Really!

In fact, we need to raise more funds this year to fully accomplish all of the great projects we have started in the past year. So please visit the ”Donate” page on our website, send us a check or call me with a CC# (Visa/MC). That’d be MUCH appreciated!

And this goes for all those who ”got” my little April Fool’s prank and called or emailed to share a laugh, too! Wasn’t brightening your April 1 well worth a donation to the WNC? Thanks in advance for all of your great friendship and generous support. It means a lot to me. No fooling.


Washington News Council Honored; Will Close Doors on April 1

BREAKING NEWS: The WNC issued the following Press Release on April 1, 2011

The day after being named “Organization of the Year” at the Municipal League’s annual Civic Awards banquet, the Washington News Council announced today that it would close its doors.

“Mission Accomplished,” said John Hamer, President and Executive Director of the News Council. “We’re going out on top. What better time to declare victory, shut down and go home?”

The News Council was founded in 1998 to promote fairness, accuracy, balance, accountability and ethics in the print, broadcast and online news media in Washington state.

“The media in this state are now fabulously fair, amazingly accurate, beautifully balanced, absolutely accountable and endearingly ethical,” Hamer gushed. “That’s why everyone loves them so much. They’re doing a great job and simply don’t need us anymore.”

Hamer cited the “Top Ten Changes” in the news media since the News Council began:
1. They always tell the truth and get the facts right.
2. They make sure to tell all sides of every story.
3. They scrupulously separate news from opinion.
4. They shun sensationalizing or scandal-mongering.
5. They work for the public interest, not to win journalism prizes.
6. They clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct.
7. They encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media.
8. They admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
9. They expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media.
10. They abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.

Hamer noted that the last five items come directly from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics. “That’s all the News Council has ever asked – that they follow their own darn ethics codes,” Hamer said. “They’re finally doing that, and they deserve a pat on the butt.”

With the WNC’s closure, there are now no news councils in the United States to provide independent outside accountability for the news media and journalists. “So the watchdogs can just watch themselves from now on,” Hamer said. “And we know they’ll do a bang-up job!”

CONTACT: John Hamer, Ex-President and Ex-Exec Director, WNC (206.262.9793)


Students nationwide take “TAO of Journalism” Pledge

Journalism students at Whitney High School (CA) take the TAO of Journalism Pledge.

“We want to show our readers and the larger journalism community that we stand by the ideals of being Transparent, Accountable and Open in our reporting and all of our practices as student journalists.” — The Roar, Whitney High School, CA

“Journalistic ethics are becoming even more critical to the practice of journalism as the field evolves….[We] like the simplicity of the pledge and the fact that it can apply equally and easily to citizen journalists, students, bloggers, professional journalists in all media.” — The Kerronicle, Kerr High School, Houston, TX

“Why are we doing it? Well, because we should.” — The Purple Tide, Chantilly High School, VA

Almost 1,000 student journalists from coast to coast have now taken the “TAO of Journalism” Pledge, promising to be Transparent, Accountable and Open in their practice of journalism. More than 850 of them nationwide took the Pledge during the Journalism Education Association’s Scholastic Journalism Week (Feb. 19-26). The quotes above are among comments emailed to the Washington News Council, which originated the TAO of Journalism concept and trademarked the TAO Seal.

The TAO Pledge and Seal allow journalists to make a public statement of ethical principles to help instill trust among their readers, viewers and listeners. The JEA endorsed the concept at the organization’s annual national convention in Kansas City last November. Kathy Schrier, executive director of the Washington Journalism Education Association and executive assistant at the WNC, attended the convention and led the endorsement effort. The TAO Pledge also may discourage school administrators from imposing prior review on student publications, JEA leaders believe.

The TAO Pledge — which is open to mainstream journalists, independent bloggers, freelancers, newsletter writers, or anyone else committing “acts of journalism,” asks journalists to publicly promise that they will be “Transparent” about who they are, “Accountable” and willing to correct any errors, and “Open” to other points of view. The idea, originally introduced at a Journalism That Matters gathering, is steadily gaining traction with media organizations and individual journalists worldwide as a way to help maintain public trust. (See Directory page on TAO website for a list of pledgers so far.)

After all, journalists want everyone they cover to be transparent, accountable and open. So why not them? It’s a two-way street. Those qualities always increase credibility and public trust in any institution or organization that adopts them. The same will be true for journalists and media organizations.

Any media group or individual journalist who takes the TAO Pledge gets listed on the TAO of Journalism website with a link to their publication and/or website. They can then post the TAO Seal in their masthead or on their website.

For some examples of how some sites are using the TAO Seal, see:


2. Common Language Project

3. De Standaard, Belgium

4. B-Town Blog

5. Fremocentrist

Student journalism organizations may take the TAO Pledge and display the Seal for free. Independent individual journalists are asked to donate $25 per year and media organizations (three or more staff) are asked to donate $50 per year to help support the TAO project’s website, maintenance and outreach. The Washington News Council is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, so donations are tax-deductible.

JEA is encouraging schools and student media to sign the Pledge  and to invite their school administrators to sign on, as well. Students receive a color poster of the TAO Pledge that can be displayed as a reminder of their commitment. In addition, student publications that took the TAO Pledge during Scholastic Journalism Week receive temporary stick-on “TAOttoos” of the TAO seal for all members of their staff. The Washington News Council ordered 3,000 of these to be mailed to TAO pledgers nationwide.

The TAO Pledge and Seal are open to anyone who is interested. Just TAO it!


Onward to AOL

Heidi DietrichAfter nearly a year of working as a freelance journalist, blogger, and contract writer, I’m heading back to the world of full-time work.

Starting November 7th, I’ll be working for Patch, AOL’s new, ambitious nation-wide network of local news sites.

Like many of the best opportunities in life, I somewhat stumbled into this one. It took a phone interview with Seattle journalist Mike Lewis to turn me on to the possibility of working for AOL.

I first connected with Lewis earlier this year, when I wrote a Washington News Council blog item about his decision to buy the Streamline Tavern on Lower Queen Anne. The move from Seattle P-I columnist to bar owner wasn’t typical, and I was intrigued by how Lewis felt about the career shift.

During our conversation, Lewis told me about everything he embraced about life behind the bar, and also everything he missed about journalism.

Fast forward several months, and I found myself once again on the phone with Lewis. This time, I wanted to talk to him about his decision to take a job as regional editor for Patch.

As we discussed his reasoning for joining the AOL team, I became more and more intrigued by what the company was doing. AOL, I learned, planned to spend $100 million and hire 1,000 editors to build its nationwide Patch effort. The company was positioning itself to become one of the country’s largest employers of journalists.

In the Seattle area, AOL would be rolling out 24 local news sites. Lewis was brought on to oversee 12 South Seattle Patch local editors, plus a roving editor, sports editor, calendar editor and copy editor for the cluster. A still-to-be-hired second regional editor would oversee the same size team for North Seattle.

I found that I shared many of Lewis’ reasons for being interested in Patch. AOL is investing significant money and effort in the venture. Lewis compared the job so far to working for a fast moving tech start-up, with all the excitement and uncertainty of launching someone new. Lewis and I both agreed that the chance to be part of a massive journalism experiment, in a time when no one knows for sure where the industry is going, was intriguing.

When Lewis asked if I’d have any interest in a local editor job, I told him I did. I liked the fact that local editors were given the autonomy and independence to run their own site, manage their freelance writers, and decide what news content to post every day. I’ve never been an office person and love the freedom of making my own decisions. Patch would give me the chance to take a project and run with it.

While I’d be making a web site my own, I’d also have the perks of working for a big corporation. Weekly team meetings, an editor, a regular paycheck, and benefits. A sense of stability freelance journalism can never provide.

Late last week, while in Boston for the Head of the Charles regatta, I accepted AOL’s offer to become the local editor for the Patch Edmonds site. I chose Edmonds because I already know the community. I grew up in the neighboring city of Shoreline, have friends and relatives in Edmonds, and currently live in North Seattle. I love the passion and loyalty Edmonds residents feel for the waterfront community.

Since Patch remains a new and untested venture, I can’t yet predict what will happen with the sites. But I’m excited to be part of such an ambitious effort, and I’m glad to be part of the early development process.

I plan to continue to blog for the Washington News Council, so long as it doesn’t conflict with my work and coverage area at Patch. I enjoy keeping up on happenings in Seattle’s broader media world, and the WNC blog provides a great outlet for me to do so.

On November 7th, I’ll head down to San Francisco to join all of the west coast Patch team for a conference. I’m looking forward to finding out more about AOL’s plans for Patch, and to meeting all of my future colleagues.


New online publication The Seattle Lesbian hopes to fill news niche

The creators of Seattle’s first lesbian news site believe the city is long overdue for such a publication.

Last week, Kate West and Sarah Toce launched The Seattle Lesbian. Though Seattle already has more than one gay news outlet (Seattle Gay News and, West and Toce saw demand for a site aimed just at women.

Toce, The Seattle Lesbian’s editor-in-chief, already wrote for national lesbian publications when she and West started talking about a local site. When Toce contacted publicists about stories, they often asked her why there were no media outlets in Seattle to pitch to.

Toce and West’s lesbian friends, in turn, complained about local gay news sites not devoting enough ink to the lesbian community.

“There was definitely a void,” said West, who acts as executive editor for The Seattle Lesbian.

With The Seattle Lesbian, West and Toce plan to cover Seattle news, politics, celebrity gossip, and local lesbians of note. Toce, who already regularly writes about Hollywood’s gay stars, will continue to cover the beat for The Seattle Lesbian. West wants to feature local gay performers, singers, and writers.

“There’s no press being done on them,” West said.

The pair will also write about politics. This week, for instance, they’re attending rallies and news conferences for Patty Murray. They’ll cover issues and pen columns on topics important to lesbians.

“We want to be a voice for people who don’t have a voice,” Toce said.

Whether The Seattle Lesbian will become financially viable remains to be seen. Right now, West is keeping her other full-time job as a claims analyst for an insurance company. Toce, on the other hand, is devoting her attention entirely to the site. In addition to their own work, they are relying on Toce’s partner for the site’s photography and several local writers for regular columns. They’d like to be able to pay freelancers, but they aren’t there yet.

The two are just beginning to build their advertising base. Since they’ve launched the site last week, several organizations and companies interested in ad spots have contacted them, Toce said. They believe political organizations, such as Equal Rights Washington, and gay-friendly or gay-owned local businesses would be prime candidates for advertisers.

Toce and West say they are also receiving a steady stream of emails from local lesbians who welcome the site’s arrival.

“We’re getting quite a little fan base,” Toce said.


Charles Krauthammer praises President Obama…sort of

Charles Krauthammer, the former practicing psychiatrist who became a Pulitzer Prize-wining conservative columnist and commentator, had some good things to say about President Barack Obama in a keynote speech to 1,200 people at the Washington Policy Center’s annual dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue on Oct. 6:

“I credit the President for presenting a view from the left with clarity and honesty.” Krauthammer said, adding: “He is out to remake American society – unabashedly, unashamedly and, I would say, courageously.”

Obama’s presidency has sparked “an extraordinary national debate over what kind of nation we are – who we are as a people, what we believe in,” Krauthammer said.

There is “something intrinsically healthy and clarifying” about this great debate, Krauthammer said. “It’s been a healthy debate, it’s been an important debate, it’s been a spontaneous debate” and one of the most significant in American history.

Obama “thinks very large in world historical terms,” Krauthammer said. He compared Obama to Ronald Reagan, adding: “Obama sees himself as the anti-Reagan….the man who will reverse Reagan” and take the nation “back to a new liberalism.”

Noting that some politicians govern from the “mushy middle,” he said that “Something dramatic has happened on the political scene” and Obama is largely responsible.

Of course, Krauthammer had plenty of negative things to say about Obama, as well as provocative comments on other aspects of American politics:

On Obama’s ideology: “Obama is not a socialist. That’s not a word I would use….The man is a Swede. Sweden is not a horrible place, but it’s not where I want to raise a kid.” Obama prefers a “social Democratic strain of socialism” that is “like Europe” with “less dynamism, less enterprising social mobility, and in the end, less liberty.”

On Obama’s personality: “How shall I put this delicately? He has a remarkable sense of self….Here is a man who accepted a Nobel Peace Prize having done absolutely nothing.”

On the Democrats: “The Democrats misunderstood their leader, they overshot their mandate, and they misread the American people.”

On Obamacare: “I think we will inevitably end up with a British-style health system, unless it’s repealed.”

On the Tea Party: It is a “spontaneous, disorganized, anarchic rebellion” that “has now become a political phenomenon.” It is “the spearhead, if you like, of resistance to the European-style socialism that Obama wants….This is not anger. This is protest. We have a national debate: What kind of government do we want?”

On American politics: “It was always fought between the 40-yard lines,” while in Europe it is from “goal line to goal line.”

On political polarization: “Here was Obama pushing us to the Red Zone…Don’t misread that. I don’t want anyone Tweeting that the man’s a Communist. It’s an NFL term.” Obama has led “an ideological experiment, trying to push us beyond the 40-yard line – but the American people put up a goal-line stand around the 35-yard line.”

On America’s future: “We want the essence of the American experiment to remain its core….Something politically alien is happening in America and people are rejecting it like a foreign body….It will be up to Americans to decide which way they want to go….The country is still suffering. The country is looking for a way out.”

On psychiatry versus punditry: “I still deal on a daily basis with people who suffer from paranoia and delusions of grandeur,” but in Washington, D.C., “they have access to nuclear weapons.”

On moving from speechwriter for Walter Mondale to commentator on Fox News: “The answer is simple: I was young once.”


What I Read: Tom Skerritt

When I arranged an afternoon coffee session with actor, screenwriter, and TheFilmSchool teacher and founder Tom Skerritt, my main objective was finding out about progress and growth at the school. I realized, though, that I could also tap Skerritt for our weekly “What I Read” column. I wondered if Skerritt, who is part of the older generation yet remains in contact with young Hollywood, had embraced social media or any of the newer sources of information.

The answer is decidedly no. Skerritt doesn’t pay much attention to Facebook and Twitter, doesn’t spend much time online, and still prefers news delivery in old fashioned mediums. For this actor, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are still the place to go.

What are your favorite local news outlets? Why?
PBS, Jim Lehrer, straight forward news. No local news outlet preference….

What do you consider “must reads” every day? Must watch? Must hear?
Try to read both NY Times and Wall Street Journal for balance and fuller reference on points of view….. Listening confined mostly to NPR, 88.5

Do you consume news through: print, television, radio, laptop, smart phone, ipad, podcasts, other?
Very little cyberspace interaction regarding news….

Do you use Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter for news and information?
I do not use any of these mediums, nor anything that requires my info.

What online news sites or aggregators do you visit regularly?

Do you regularly visit any individual blogs for news, analysis and opinion?

Have your news consumption habits changed in the last few years? If so, how?
News consumption habits are unchanged, but the style of news broadcasting has.  Too much bullshit focus.

Do you read for fun? If so, what? Last novel you read? Non-fiction book?
I write too much to have draw to read.  Last book I read is Michael Lewis’ THE BIG SHORT.  With few exceptions, love non-fiction.


WNC welcomes summer intern Colin Moyer

WNC intern Colin Moyer updates new donor database.

WNC intern Colin Moyer updates new donor database.

Joining the WNC team this summer is Colin Moyer, who just completed his first year at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

As a high school senior at Curtis High School near Tacoma, Colin made a name for himself when he approached school officials about starting a school sponsored newspaper.  School administrators said sure, but they insisted on reviewing content of any paper before allowing it to go to press.  Finding this unacceptable, Colin pulled together a group of Curtis students, who launched “The Viking Underground” — an off campus student-produced paper. They printed and distributed the paper during the entire 2008-09 school year, covering a range of topics relating to the school community, and did so without prior review by school authorities.

For his efforts on behalf of student press rights, Colin received a Special Recognition Award from the Washington Journalism Education Association. He also received the National and Washington state ACLU Youth Activist Award for outstanding commitment to the protection and promotion of civil liberties.

Colin now works on the staff of the Occidental College newspaper, and looks forward to starting his sophomore year there in the fall.


Symposium’s Main Event at WSU’s Murrow College Draws Hundreds of Students, Academics, Journalists, and Public

MurrowPULLMAN — “Would Murrow have tweeted?”

That question from a member of the audience at the Edward R. Murrow Symposium’s evening event drew a big laugh from the large crowd. The panelists – Deborah Amos of NPR, Robin Fields of ProPublica, and Judy Woodruff of PBS – weren’t sure how to answer it. None admitted to being active on Twitter.

But Lawrence Pintak, founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, had opened the 36th annual Murrow Symposium on April 20 with this question: “How does Murrow’s legacy fit into the new media landscape?”

In between, there were many hours of panels, workshops, networking, chatting and debating about the chaotic and uncertain future of what used to be called the “news biz.” [Read more...]