WNC To Hold Hearing on Vitae Foundation vs. KUOW Complaint

***UPDATE*** we now have the hearing video and full set of documents involved with the complaint as a downloadable PDF. We also have national coverage by The Washington Times and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Ombudsman. Plus local coverage in Sound Politics and the Northwest Daily Marker.

The Washington News Council’s Board of Directors has set a date for a hearing on a formal written complaint from the Vitae Foundation against KUOW 94.9 FM concerning a story that aired April 13, 2011.

The hearing will be Saturday, March 31, 2012, from 9 am-noon, at the University of Washington’s Communication Department, Room 120. It is open to the public.

You can download a PDF collection here to read the basic complaint and initial correspondence between Vitae and KUOW.

WNC Hearings Board Chair Karen Seinfeld presiding over the Sue Rahr v. Seattle Post-Intelligencer case

Karen Seinfeld, Chair of the WNC Hearings Board and former Chief Judge of the Washington State Court of Appeals, will preside at the hearing. (UPDATE 3/16/12: Former Washington State Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander will be presiding in Judge Seinfeld’s place at the hearing.)

The WNC Hearings Board will be comprised of current and former WNC Board Members, including Martin Neeb, Scott Forslund, Shannon Myers, Bill Gates Sr., Steve Boyer, John Knowlton, Erik Lacitis, Charles Rehberg, David Schaefer, Paula Selis, Chris Villiers and Walt Howe.

The WNC recently received two grants from the Gates Foundation and Microsoft for 2012 operating expenses.

To see how a WNC hearing works, here is a link to a video and background information of a 2006 hearing in the Sheriff Sue Rahr vs. Seattle Post-Intelligencer complaint, held at Town Hall Seattle.

(The P-I chose not to participate in the hearing, which is their right as media participation is voluntary. They posted a 17-page written response on their website, much of which was read into the record by Judge Seinfeld at the hearing. Had they attended, they would have had full opportunity to “stand by their stories” in public, respond to questions from the Council, and make their case in an open forum.)

The WNC received the Vitae Foundation’s formal written complaint on June 9, 2011, and the Council’s Board of Directors accepted it for our process after careful review. The WNC’s Board unanimously agreed that the complaint raised “serious questions of journalistic performance or ethics,” which is our main criterion for acceptance. The Board takes no position on the merits of a complaint at that stage, however.

We notified both sides that the complaint had been accepted and began a 30-day resolution period, encouraging both Vitae and KUOW to seek a compromise resolution. WNC convened a meeting on July 14, 2011, at the WNC office with Guy Nelson, News Director of KUOW and Pia de Solenni, representing the Vitae Foundation. The resolution period was extended for another 30 days, and extended again through the end of the calendar year. Both sides were urged to continue seeking a compromise.

Following WNC’s three-part recommendation of a proposed compromise resolution, Guy Nelson did conduct a brief telephone interview with Debbie Stokes (CORRECTION: An earlier version identified her as “Debbie Nelson.” We regret the error.) of the Vitae Foundation on Sept. 30, 2011, and posted the transcript on the station’s website. However, the station did not acknowledge that the original story was incomplete and misleading, as they had conceded privately. Nor did they do an on-air story, which was part of the proposed compromise. Nelson said they would “seriously consider” doing a follow-up on-air story, which was part of our proposed compromise, but set no timetable.

The WNC tried through 2011 to mediate Vitae’s complaint, hoping that a satisfactory compromise resolution could be reached. WNC Board Members believed that a resolution was possible. However, in January 2012 it became clear that resolution was unlikely. More than six months had passed — far exceeding the WNC’s normal 30-day resolution period — and there had been little progress.

Under the WNC’s Complaint and Hearing Procedures guidelines, if the complainant is not “satisfied with the news outlet’s proposed resolution to the complaint,” a hearing date to air the issues is scheduled. Vitae was not satisfied with KUOW’s response and therefore requested a hearing. The WNC’s Board, after careful deliberation, agreed to set a hearing date.

A hearing is not a trial, but an open discussion of journalistic standards, which is healthy and helpful for both sides — and for the general public. WNC has asked both parties to submit final written statements by March 10 that include “any new information obtained or agreements reached during the process of trying to resolve the complaint.”

WNC’s Complaints Committee will phrase questions for the Council to consider at the hearing, identifying “which actions by the news outlet allegedly violated standards of accuracy, fairness and/or journalistic ethics.” Final wording of the questions will be shared with both parties and made public at least 10 days prior to the hearing.

One resource the WNC may use at the hearing is National Public Radio’s newly revised Ethics Handbook, which was just released last week.

WNC’s guidelines also state: “Parties may continue to try to resolve the complaint prior to a hearing, but if they do not reach a resolution before the day of the hearing, the hearing will proceed.” If the complaint is resolved to both KUOW and Vitae’s satisfaction by March 30, the hearing will be cancelled.

For further information about the complaint or questions about WNC’s process, contact:

John Hamer (206.262.9793)
President and Executive Director
Washington News Council
1201 1st Ave. South, #331
Seattle, WA 98134

8:30 a.m. – Doors open to Room 120, U.W. Communications Building, to public and news media. (Open at 8 a.m. to WNC Hearings Board)

9:00 a.m. – WNC President John Hamer welcomes attendees,
makes brief remarks about WNC complaint & hearing process.

9:05 a.m. – Hearings Board Chair Gerry Alexander calls hearing to order, asks all Board members to introduce themselves

9:10 a.m. – Opening Statement (15 minutes) by Vitae Foundation

9:25 a.m. – Opening Statement (15 minutes) by KUOW

9:40 a.m. – Rebuttal Statement (5 minutes) by Vitae Foundation

9:45 a.m. – Rebuttal Statement (5 minutes) by KUOW

9:50-10:30 a.m. – Questions (40 minutes) by WNC Hearings Board

10:30-10:45 a.m. – Break

10:45-11:30 a.m. – Discussion (45 minutes) by WNC Hearings Board members (questions of Vitae and KUOW only to clarify issues)

11:30 a.m. – Chair Alexander asks if either party wants a brief recess to reconsider positions or eliminate questions. If so, action is taken.

11:35 a.m. – Closing Statement (2 minutes) by Vitae Foundation

11:37 a.m. – Closing Statement (2 minutes) by KUOW

11:40 a.m. – WNC Hearings Board votes on written ballots, which are counted by WNC staff. Vote results announced by Chair Alexander.
Hearings Board members confirm their votes by show of hands.

12:00 p.m. – Hearing is adjourned by Chair Alexander.

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13th Annual Gridiron Dinner a smashing success!

Patti Payne gives Dale a personal serenade in front of the crowd. (Click the image to view the Team Photogenic photo album)

Watch it on the Seattle Channel

Visit the photo album from Team Photogenic

The Washington News Council’s “Toast and Roast” of Dale Chihuly at our 13th Annual Gridiron West Dinner on December 15 at Fremont Studios was a smashing success.

About 400 people enjoyed a raucous and rollicking evening of comedy, songs, videos, slideshows and affectionate “toasts” of Dale by a distinguished array of “toasters.”

Guests gathered at a reception in Studio B, where a special “Chihulyni” cocktail was served, along with other adult beverages and tasty hors-d’oeuvres. Then they moved into Studio A where the Cyclorama wall displayed scenes of Chihuly’s many outdoor exhibits around the world.

The Nowhere Men, Seattle’s favorite Beatles cover band, played tunes by the Fab Four as people found their tables. The band also played throughout the evening, singing several parody versions of Beatles songs written for the occasion.

Dinner, catered by Kaspar’s Special Events & Catering began with a stacked vegetable salad followed by an entrée of roasted turkey with apple dressing. Dessert was a gingerbread spice cake. “Chihuly Label” wines from Dunham Cellars in Walla Walla were served at every table, thanks to Mike Dunham and Ron Sevart of the Space Needle Corporation.

Every guest also received a coffee tumbler with the Washington News Council logo on one side and the “TAO of Journalism – Transparent, Accountable, Open” logo on the other side. The tumblers were provided by the WNC Board.

Mike Egan, who has Emceed the Gridiron Dinners for more than 10 years, welcomed the crowd and introduced Father Stephen Sundborg, president of Seattle University, to deliver the invocation.

Sue Nixon, talented jazz singer and Seattle Rotarian, opened the evening with a moving rendition of “America the Beautiful,” followed by a parody version of “Yesterday” that ended with “We believe in Chihuly.”

Glass centerpieces on each table were made by students at Tacoma’s Hilltop Artists program, which Dale started in 1994. The centerpieces were underwritten by a generous donation from Jeff and Susan Brotman. A video was shown explaining how the program helps at-risk kids in Tacoma. Greg Piercy and Travis Johnson of Hilltop then talked about what the program has meant to them.

Suzie Burke, WNC Chair, and I, WNC President and Executive Director, also welcomed the crowd and thanked table sponsors. “Mille Fiori” sponsors (at the $10,000 level) included Boeing, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Premera, and Susan Hutchison/Charles Simonyi Fund. Sponsors at the “Macchia” ($7,500) level included Chihuly Studio and the Space Needle Corporation. At the “Venetian” ($5,000) level: Fremont Dock Company, Lynden Inc., Pemco and U-Park Systems. Plus more than a dozen table sponsors at the “Seaform” ($3,000) level.

Suzie and I also thanked a wide range of people who helped make the event possible with generous in-kind or other donations. I noted the event would not have been possible without the help of Kathy Schrier, my executive assistant, and Monica Tracey, our event planner. I also thanked Christine Kehoe, Janet Makela, Billy O’Neill and Michael Tobiason of Chihuly Studio for all their help arranging the event, along with Dale and Leslie.

Mike Egan did his traditional Gridiron Slideshow, starting with shots of his own two children followed by Chihuly baby pictures. He went through a series of early Chihuly photos with gonzo verbal captions, followed by a “Chihuly…or Not Chihuly?” segment that showed real Chihuly works and then photos of a giant lava lamp and a portrait of dogs playing poker.

An informative video of Dale’s history was shown, done by Mark McDonnell and Peter West of Chihuly Studio.

“Toasters” took the stage in pairs, led by Jeff & Susan Brotman, who were dressed in bright “Chihuly Colors.” Jeff went to high-school and college with Dale, and told stories of wild times in the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity house, which he said sometimes resembled “Animal House.” He gave Dale a multi-colored neon scarf that Dale wore the rest of the night.

Sally Bagshaw and Tom Skerritt presented contrasting stories. Bagshaw described how the “Seattle Process” had handled Chihuly’s proposal to build a “Garden and Glass” exhibit at Seattle Center. Skerritt described how he and Dale went to the movies together and ended up with melting handfuls of Milk Duds, which Dale blew like glass. (Dale said later that Skerritt made it all up.)

Allen Shoup, founder of Chateau Ste. Michelle, wore a “Team Chihuly” hat during his remarks. Jim Bianco, president of Cell Therapeutics, wore a vibrantly colored T-shirt under his jacket.

Mimi Gates, former director of the Seattle Art Museum, said: “People throng to museums to see Dale Chihuly glass, filled with joy and awe.” She added: “Your artistic creativity is marvelous and adds immensely to the prestige of the Pacific Northwest.”

Patti Payne, a longtime friend of Dale and Leslie’s, paid tribute to them in a song: “The Way You Look Tonight.” Using a handheld microphone, she walked down to their front-row table and sang directly to Dale, who stood up for a kiss on the forehead. The crowd loved it.

Door prizes included five fabulous items. Winners’ names were drawn by Travis Johnson of Hilltop Artists. Lucky winners were Tara Ashton, Jane & David Davis, Robert Simon, Scott Shapiro and Virginia Larsen. They won, respectively, a “Bonfire Baskets” piece made by Chihuly; a Fremont Studios movie night for 30 people; two Alaska Airlines unrestricted round-trip tickets; dinner for eight at Kaspar’s with wines, and an overnight “Hot Glass” package at Hotel Murano in Tacoma, which includes a glass-blowing lesson.

The evening concluded with a tribute to Dale from Leslie, which featured a series of slides showing them together, often with their son Jackson. Leslie also brought their dog, Kobe, onstage along with a statue of a bulldog, Dale’s favorite breed.

Dale stood for some gracious closing remarks, inviting all dinner attendees to the opening of the new Garden and Glass exhibit in April. Slides of the current site were shown along with an artist’s rendition of the final exhibit.

When the program was over, VIP guests gathered for an After Party back in Studio B with sparkling champagne from Chateau Ste. Michelle and delicious chocolates donated by Theo Chocolate. Many people, including the Chihulys, lingered until almost midnight. A good time was had by all!

Visit the photo album from Team Photogenic

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The 2011 Gridiron West Dinner is coming!

We’re pleased to announce the details of our 13th Annual Gridiron West Dinner

A “roast/toast” to the one and only DALE CHIHULY

The Gridiron Dinner is our signature fundraising event, which allows all our vital programs to continue, and is seriously a romping good time.

Last year we had the mayors in stitches, and this year we’ll be shattering a little glass, so come join us!

THURSDAY, DEC. 15, 2011
FREMONT STUDIOS, 155 North 35th Street, Seattle

RECEPTION: 5:30 p.m.
DINNER & ENTERTAINMENT: 6:30-9:30 p.m.
VIP CHAMPAGNE & CHOCOLATE AFTER PARTY: 9:30 to ???

In the Gridiron West Dinner tradition, the evening will feature songs, comedy, video, photos and “toasts/roasts” of our honoree, Dale Chihuly.

Master of Ceremonies: Mike Egan
Musical Tribute: The Nowhere Men
Plus a Host of Celebrity Toasters/Roasters including Sally Bagshaw, Jim Bianco, Jeff & Susan Brotman, John Buchanan, Leslie Chihuly, Mimi Gardner Gates, Allen Shoup, & Tom Skerritt

Festive Attire: Chihuly Colors Encouraged!

This event will sell out, so reserve your tickets and tables now!

PAST GRIDIRON WEST DINNER HONOREES:

2010 – Greg Nickels, Norm Rice, Charles Royer, Paul Schell, Wes Uhlman (see the review from Seattle Met)
2009 – Suzie Burke
2008 – Kemper Freeman Jr.
2007 – Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus
2006 – Tom Foley & Slade Gorton
2005 – Bill Gates Sr. & Mimi Gardner Gates
2004 – Jennifer Dunn & Gary Locke
2003 – Jim Ellis & John Ellis
2002 – Dan Evans, Booth Gardner, Mike Lowry, Al Rosellini, John Spellman
2001 – Jean Enersen, Kathi Goertzen, Susan Hutchison
2000 – Emmett Watson
1999 – Adele Ferguson, Dick Larsen, Mike Layton, Shelby Scates

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Gridiron West Dinner a Big Success

The Washington News Council’s 12th (!) annual Gridiron West Dinner, (video here, pics here) held on Friday, Nov. 12 at The Conference Center at Convention Place in Seattle brought 350 people together to “toast/roast” five former Mayors of Seattle: Wes Uhlman, Charles Royer, Norm Rice, Paul Schell and Greg Nickels. Current Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was there to introduce his predecessors, and won some points for his good-natured remarks. To no one’s surprise, McGinn was the target of a few pointed shots himself.

It was a raucous, irreverent, edgy evening of songs, comedy, videos, slideshows and often caustic comments by “toasters/roasters” — with sharp retorts by the Mayors who were targets of the barbs. Emcee Mike Egan (who actually has a day job at Microsoft), ran the show with his usual zany aplomb, appearing in costume first as a Munchkin and later as Dorothy, as the evening’s theme was “Wizard of Oz.”  A radiant backdrop of “The Emerald City” hung behind the stage, where the five Mayors sat in soft armchairs while they took their hard medicine from various friends, colleagues, and journalists. There was even a video appearance of Mayor Gordon Clinton, who reigned during the Seattle World’s Fair (watch below).

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Four extremely talented singers, dressed in spot-on costumes as Dorothy, The Tin Man, The Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion, kicked off the program with a hilarious sketch about politically correct Seattle, written by Jim Anderson of Cabaret Productions. Anderson also wrote many of the lyrics (aided by former KING5-TV President Eric Bremner and WNC President John Hamer) and choreographed the show, as well as running the technical side including lighting, video, audio, costumes and props.

WNC Chair Suzie Burke and Hamer welcomed the crowd and gratefully thanked all the table sponsors (including Boeing, Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Simonyi Fund & Susan Hutchison, Premera, Space Needle Corporation, Chihuly Studio, PEMCO Insurance, Puget Sound Energy, and a dozen others). Carly Hunt Koczarski sang “America the Beautiful” beautifully. Our new promotional video, by WNC Communications Strategist Jacob Caggiano, was shown while dinner was being served, giving the audience a look at how the WNC has “reinvented” itself in the past few months with a redesigned website, a blog page, an online community, a TAO of Journalism site, and other innovative programs. After dinner, the musical tribute began with songs such as “Follow the Politics Road” and ”We’re Here to Toast the Mayors, These Wonderful Mayors of Ours,” with the audience joining in while lyrics were shown on the big screens.

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A video called “The Mayors,” (above) done by Ken Jones of KJ Video Productions (and a longtime KING5-TV videographer) brought down the house with its animated Jib-Jab scenes including the Mayors as Chippendale Dancers. Only Paul Schell was unable to attend in person, though he was “toasted” anyway as his cardboard cutout sat on stage and an “Anarchist from Eugene” ran out shouting pro-Schell slogans for the hospitality shown to radical demonstrators during the WTO convention. A mini-auction, raffle and “raise the paddle” segment led by Auctioneer Fred Granados featured several terrific items and fiercely competitive bidding. The evening concluded with a wry rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” followed by a Champagne & Chocolate After Party with Domaine Ste Michelle Brut (thanks to Carol Munro) and Theo’s Chocolates (thanks to Chuck Horne).

Special thanks to all those who sponsored tables or purchased tickets, for making this evening possible. Your generous (and tax-deductible) donations make the News Council’s important work possible. In addition, every dollar we receive this year will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, thanks to a special “challenge grant” arranged by Bill Gates Sr. We can’t thank Bill Sr. and the Foundation enough for their generous support of the WNC since our founding in 1998.

Our annual Gridiron West Dinners, almost always held in the aftermath of the November elections, always attract a thoroughly bipartisan crowd. The event provides a welcome opportunity for Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, Green Partiers and Tea Partiers, to come together for an evening of fun and frolic despite deep political and ideological differences. It is our hope that by enjoying a nice dinner, pouring a bottle (or two) of wine, and sharing a few laughs, people who may be deeply at odds on issues and policy will find some common ground and maybe find ways to work together better. Hey, that’s what everyone says they want these days, isn’t it?

[Also have a look at coverage of the event from Seattle Metropolitan]

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The News Council Elects New Officers, Restructures Board, Wins Gates Grant

WNC Elects New Officers, Restructures Board, Wins Gates Grant

The Washington News Council (www.wanewscouncil.org) has elected five new officers to serve on its Board of Directors for 2010:

Chair: Suzie Burke, President of Fremont Dock Company

President: John Hamer, former Executive Director of WNC

Vice President: Martin Neeb, KPLU General Manager Emeritus

Treasurer: Olivia Lippens, President of Clear Channel Outdoor

Secretary: Shannon Frew, Communications Director, Commercial Aviation Services, Commercial Airplanes, The Boeing Company

These officers will constitute an Executive Committee of the WNC’s Board of Directors and oversee strategy, development and governance.

In addition, a WNC Hearings Council, made up of current Board Members and Board Members Emeritus, will review complaints and convene when complaint hearings become necessary.

Hearings Council Chair: Karen Seinfeld, Former Presiding Chief Judge, Washington State Court of Appeals (re-elected to current position)

All members of the Board of Directors and the Hearings Council are eligible to serve on committees, including Complaints, Development, Education, Nominating, Publicity or any other ad hoc committees.

The WNC recently was awarded a $100,000 challenge grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, after matching it with $100,000 in donations from other donors. (See below for details.)

The WNC is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Donations are tax-deductible.

CONTACT: John Hamer, jhamer@wanewscouncil.org , 206.262.9793

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WNC Raises $100,000 to Meet Challenge Grant Target for 2010!

The Washington News Council successfully raised $100,000 in matching donations, pledges and in-kind contributions by Jan. 15, triggering payment of a $100,000 challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The WNC would like to thank all those who donated or pledged to help us meet this extraordinary challenge:

$10,000 or more: Dollar Development Company, Kemper Development Company, Charles Simonyi Fund, Clear Channel Outdoor (in-kind billboard space), Everything Under the Web (in-kind website redesign).

$5,000 or more: Microsoft, PEMCO, Premera, Doug & Janet True

$2,500 or more: Suzie Burke, Pedro Celis, Lynden Inc., Vic & Mary Odermat

$1,000 or more: Steve Boyer, Bill Bryant, Ken & Cathi Hatch, Austin Hamer, Tom Hayward, Bob & Pat Herbold, Peter Horvitz, Geoff & Teresa Hunt, Barbara Kenney, Deanie Larsen, Martin Neeb Family Foundation, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Phil Smart Sr., Washington Dairy Products Commission, Michael Young

$500 or more: Everett Billingslea, John Blackman, Bob Donegan (in-kind dinner event), Kirby Lindsay, Helen Silha

$100 or more: Creigh Agnew, Karen Dunn, Reagan Dunn, Becky Cox, Denny Fleenor, Mike Flynn, Walter Liang, Chuck Rehberg, David Schaefer
$50 or more: Gene Anest, Oren Campbell, Megan Gilshire, Pete Rollins, Steve Shapiro, Dann Mead Smith

If the WNC raises an additional $100,000 in donations and pledges this year, and meets the terms of the grant agreement, the Gates Foundation will award another $100,000 matching grant in 2011.

The WNC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to promote fairness, accuracy, balance, accountability and ethics in the news media. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Donate online at www.wanewscouncil.org, call 206-262-9793 to donate or pledge, or mail checks to WNC, P.O. Box 3672, Seattle WA 98124-3672.

CONTACT: John Hamer, WNC Executive Director, 2026.262.9793

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2009 GRIDIRON WEST DINNER A SMASHING SUCCESS!

Rave reviews are still coming in for the Washington News Council’s 11th Annual Gridiron West Dinner, which was held Saturday night, Sept. 12, at Fremont Studios. Many attendees said it was the best event they’ve been to in years.

CLICK HERE TO READ COMMENTS & KUDOS

Our “toast/roast” of Suzie Burke, president of the WNC’s board of directors and owner of Fremont Dock Company, was a fun-filled evening of song, comedy, costumes, and funny but affectionate tributes to our “toastee.”

NOTE: The event was filmed by TVW. See www.tvw.org for broadcast schedule. (First showing: Wednesday, Sept. 16, at 10:30 pm on Channel 23).

Special thanks to all of this year’s table sponsors, including:
“Center of the Universe” Level — Boeing, Sharon Gantz Bloome, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kemper Development Company, U-Park System.
“Fremont Bridge Level” — Brown Bear Car Wash, Fremont Dock Company, Horvitz Foundation, Microsoft, Pacific Futures Trading Co., PEMCO, Charles Simonyi Fund.
“Waiting for the Interurban” Level — Dollar Development, Gorton Legacy Group, Lynden, Inc., Premera, Puget Sound Energy, Rowley Properties.
“Fremont Troll” Level — ABC Enterprises, Berntson Porter, Discovery Institute, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Fremont Tugboat Company, Fremont Rotary, Holy Names Academy, Northwest Seattle Industrial Association, Alan and Nancy Sclater, Seattle University, Wallace Properties, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Wallingford Boys and Girls Club, Wells Fargo Bank, Women of Washington.

Thanks, too, to all those who bought individual tickets for themselves, friends and colleagues, and helped fill tables.

Mike Egan, Master of Ceremonies, began the evening by welcoming guests. Father Peter Ely, Vice President of Seattle University, gave a moving invocation. Sue Nixon, a well-known Seattle jazz singer, sang the national anthem beautifully.

WNC Executive Director John Hamer and Acting Treasurer David Schaefer recognized past Gridiron West Dinner honorees who were there (Mike Lowry, Slade Gorton and Kemper Freeman Jr.), thanked table sponsors and introduced a video explaining the News Council’s mission.

After a delicious dinner catered by Kaspar’s with wine from Columbia Winery, Honorary Chair Kemper Freeman Jr. (last year’s “toastee”) welcomed the crowd and listed some colorful words that have been used to describe Suzie. He was followed by a personal video done by Ken Jones that chronicled Suzie Burke’s family history.

The Cabaret Productions Singers, arranged by Jim Anderson and David Koch, sang a medley of songs including “Suzie B” and “Shake Up, Little Suzie,” followed by the Washington News Council “Glee Club” (i.e., board of directors), who sang “If You Knew Suzie, Like We Know Suzie, Oh, Oh, Oh, What a Gal!” Other songs by the Cabaret Productions Singers included “Fremont, Fremont” (to the tune of “New York, New York”), “Me and My Landlord Suzie” (to the tune of “Me and Bobby McGee”), and “The Lady is a Champ” (to the tune of “The Lady is a Tramp”). CLICK HERE FOR LYRICS .

Emcee Mike Egan, dressed in a Russian Army officer’s uniform, did a side-splitting slide show “revealing” that Suzie Burke was actually a KGB agent who had been assigned by the Kremlin to spy on Seattle by posing undercover as a Republican in Fremont! Later in the program, Egan appeared as a Fremont “nude bicyclist” and rode around the stage to uproarious laughter from the crowd.

“Toasters” of Suzie included Rob McKenna, Washington State Attorney General, and Tom Carr, Seattle City Attorney, followed by Stan Emert, Symetra Community Affairs Director, and Liz Swift, Principal of Holy Names Academy.

Seattle comedian Pat Cashman “toasted” Suzie before conducting a mini-auction of 5 items. Cashman’s routine was hilarious, highlighted by a surprise demonstration of his electric nose-hair trimmer.

Reagan Dunn, King County Councilman, brought the house down with his line: “What do Sarah Palin and Suzie Burke have in common? They can both see Communists from their front yards.”

Table centerpieces were wooden replicas of the famous “Fremont Guidepost,” made by Westlake Woodworks.

Raffle prizes went to those who bought Suzie Burke “Bobbleheads” as raffle tickets, with the winners drawn by Kurt and Amina Kapasuzoglu, two of Suzie’s grandchildren.

Suzie’s three children — Gwen Kapasuzoglu, Mike Osterfeld and Kirby Lindsay — “toasted” their mother with affectionate stories and anecdotes. They were joined onstage by spouses and other family members.

Suzie’s final “response” to her toasters was funny and feisty — no surprise to those who know and love her. A video of Eddie Cantor singing “If You Knew Suzie” ended the evening’s program.

An After Party in The Village at Fremont Studios featured champagne and delicious chocolates donated by Theo’s Chocolates. An open mic was provided for friends to offer more “toasts” to Suzie. Festivities went on until midnight.

Special thanks to Mike Egan of Microsoft, Jim Anderson of Cabaret Productions, and Scott Jonas of Fremont Studios for making this event such a big success. And to Monica Tracey, event planner, and Kathy Schrier, WNC executive assistant, for making the event possible.

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“100 Friends of the WNC” — Distinguished Group Growing Fast!

The Washington News Council has formed100 Friends of the WNC. Members pledge to donate $1,000 a year for three consecutive years to help support the News Council’smission. Friends also receive two tickets to our annual Gridiron West Dinners.

Members so far include: Nancy Alvord, Minoru & Yoko Arakawa, Tom Barwick, Richard & Edwina Baxter, James Bianco, Steve Boyer, Herb & Shirley Bridge, Suzie Burke, Doris Cassan, Pedro & Laura Celis, Tom Cock Jr., Jane & David Davis, Tom Downey, Jennifer Dunn, Jim Ellis, Bill Gates Sr., Margo & Andy Gordon, Martha Kongsgaard & Peter Goldman, Austin & Ina Hamer, Ken & Cathi Hatch, Tom & Peggy Hayward, Richard & Elizabeth Hedreen, Bob & Pat Herbold, Sandeep Kaushik & Elizabeth Goodwin, Betsy Lieberman & Richard Groomer, Grant & Marci Larsen, Bruce & Jolene McCaw, Chuck & Tracy Nordhoff, Chuck & Cathy Novak, Mary Odermat, Vic Odermat, Mary Pigott, Joe & Jaynie Putnam, Harry & Ann Pryde, Skip Rowley, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Sandy Schoolfield & Jon Kechejian, Karen Seinfeld, Helen Silha, Stephen Silha, Gary Smith, John Stanton & Theresa Gillespie, Sid Snyder, Craig & Joan Watjen.

If you’d like to join this distinguished group, please call our office at 206.262.9793 or go to the “Click & Pledge” box at the top of this page.

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New Media and Public Members Join WNC Board of Directors

Three new members were voted onto the WNC Board of Directors at our Annual Board Retreat on July 29, held at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. They are:

Margo Gordon, Public Member, who is returning to the Board after serving from 1998-2004. Margo is former Dean of the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington. She stepped down as dean but continues to teach as a professor at the school. She also has taught journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School.

Jonathan Lawson, Media Member, who is Executive Director of Reclaim the Media and Public Affairs Specialist at the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME. He is also host/producer of a weekly jazz program on KBCS-FM. He is a graduate of Guilford College and Harvard Divinity School.

Martin J. Neeb, Media Member, who is General Manager of KPLU-FM in Tacoma, a position he has held since 1981. He recently announced his retirement, effective in December 2006. He is a founding member of the City Club of Tacoma and has been an officer of West Coast Public Radio and the Arthritis Foundation.

The following two members joined the WNC Board earlier in 2006:

Mike Flynn, Media Member, who recently retired as President and Publisher of the Puget Sound Business Journal. He is also on the boards of Junior Achievement of Greater Puget Sound, Downtown Seattle Association, Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, and the Harbor Club.

Dr. Eddie Reed, Public Member, who just received his Ph.D. in Education from the University of Washington. He was a WNC board member from 1998 to 2004 and served as President of the organization for three years. Dr. Reed is now Instruction Coach and Professional Development Director for the Tukwila School District.

The Board Retreat was a day-long meeting that included welcoming remarks by CWU President Jerilyn McIntyre, and luncheon remarks by Ken Robertson, Editor of the Tri-City Herald. The Council voted to accept the complaint from the King County Sheriff’s Office against the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It heard reports from several task groups and committees. And it watched a videotape of the Minnesota News Council’s hearing in the case of Northwest Airlines vs. WCCO-TV, plus a Mike Wallace “60 Minutes” segment on that case, in which Wallace endorses news councils.

The following officers were re-elected for one-year terms:

President – Stephen Silha (Media Member)

Vice President- Steve Boyer (Public Member)

Vice President – Dave Schaefer (Media Member)

Treasurer – Sandy Schoolfield (Public Member)

Secretary – Suzie Burke (Public Member)

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WNC Elects New President, Vice Presidents; Silha’s op-ed in Christian Science Monitor

Stephen Silha was elected president of the Washington News Council at the WNC’s board meeting on July 23, 2005. Silha, a writer and communications consultant, had been vice president of the council.

The Christian Science Monitor published his op-ed piece, “News councils: a meeting place for communities and their storytellers,” on Aug. 29, 2005. Click HERE:

“News councils provide a nonthreatening, neutral way to explore citizen complaints about media coverage, to examine ethics, and to communicate more clearly about the purpose and techniques of journalism,” Silha wrote. He described the WNC’s Knight Foundation-funded project to create two more news councils in other states (see next item below).

Silha replaces Cyrus Krohn, who stepped down as WNC president when he took a new job at Yahoo! Krohn, who is maintaining his residence in Issaquah, will remain as a media member of the Council.

Steve Boyer and Dave Schaefer were also elected vice presidents of the News Council. Boyer is Senior Vice President of Rockey Hill & Knowlton, and a Public Member of the WNC. Schaefer is Assistant Director of Public Affairs at the Port of Seattle and a Media Member of the WNC.

Sandy Schoolfield is now Treasurer of the WNC and Suzie Burke is Secretary.

The News Council has received other national publicity. Mark Jurkowitz‘s recent piece in the Boston Phoenix

http://www.bostonphoenix.com/medialog_2/ (second item) also described the Knight Foundation grant project.

Both Silha’s and Jurkowitz’s pieces were posted on Jim Romenesko’s widely read national media website.

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