Washington News Council
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A place to discuss the way political stories are covered in the news.
Ryan Blethen of The Seattle Times recently published an editorial column describing their political endorsement policy and process.
Do editorial endorsements still carry the same clout now that fewer people receive the newspaper on their doorsteps? Do they have the same impact online? Where do you go for reliable advice during the political season?
I’m also curious about what people think of the Stranger’sapproach.
They make their viewpoints abundantly clear and use colorful language to make for an interesting read. Of course your opinion of their style will perhaps depend entirely on your opinion of their endorsements.
Still, I think it plays a role in getting people interested who have not been paying attention, and I generally support anything that get’s people interested in local politics.
I think endorsements from local papers are still widely read and valued. If nothing else, they devote a whole column to discussing one candidate. With our non-online news sources dwindling, newspapers are still a key link to informing voters. Especially older voters who are more likely to vote anyhow.
On Monday, Aug. 9, The Times recommended John Koster and Rick Larsen in the Second Congressional District (Snohomish, Island, Skagit, Whatcom, and San Juan Counties). While saying “We are not thrilled” with Koster and Larsen, The Times recommended them anyway.
The endorsement barely mentioned two less-well-funded Democratic candidates from Bellingham who, together, garnered more votes in a July poll of Whatcom County Democrats than Larsen did (Larsen got 85 votes to Larry Kalb’s 69 and Diana McGinniss’s 40). However, The Times dismisses both as merely “challenging him (Rick Larsen) from the left,” with no elaboration. The Times also mentioned a second
Republican candidate who does not pose “a serious challenge.”
In fact, the other Democrats’ positions sharply contrast with both the front-runners on the issues The Times raised. Both Kalb and McGinniss believe that “human-caused climate change” is real (Koster doesn’t), are against “siding with big media companies against Net neutrality” (Larsen supports them), are definitely not “comfortable with the U.S. lingering in Afghanistan” (both Koster and Larsen “seem” to be).
They both prefer single-payer health care while Larsen never even supported a public option, but that issue was not even raised in the endorsement. Kalb is a long-time state leader for single-payer health care, while Larsen’s opposition to it is a sore spot with many of his constituents.
In other editorials, The Times has stated it believes that income taxes “punish success,” and it reiterated that position in its recommendation, giving the nod to Koster. Kalb’s views on taxes are close to Larsen’s (but stronger and more articulate), and McGinniss has had little to say about deficit reduction.
Kalb and McGinniss also promote campaign finance reform, which The Times ignores even as it admits (in other editorials) that the lack of corporate donors hampers challengers who don’t suck up to them.
In the same issue, the Blethens stated their intention to subject readers to weeks of bragging about five generations of “commitment to quality journalism.” I don’t think I can stand it.
I agree, I feel it is a real shame when underdog candidates are ignored in the press and we are forced to pick between the establishment guy and the slightly different establishment guy.
it seems clear the Times takes a conservative point of view in their editorials, though they will make the claim that their is a wall of separation between the opinions expressed editorially and the rest of their coverage.
Our challenge is to prove or disprove this as the case. Keep digging Jim.
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