WNC Joins Global Press/News Councils Alliance

The Washington News Council has joined the Alliance of Independent Press Councils of Europe. We’re not in Europe, you say?

True, but neither are several other press councils in AIPCE: Botswana, Israel, Peru, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Zambia, among others. It’s a big tent, this group, and their numbers are growing. (For more details, see What is a Press Council?) [Read more...]


The Orwells: Britain’s top political writing prizes

LONDON, ENGLAND – Martin Moore, director of Media Standards Trust, suggested we meet at Starbucks on Victoria Street, near Westminster Abbey. My Seattle office is just down the street from Starbucks headquarters, I told him, so that would be fitting.

Martin had invited me to attend the Orwell Prize Awards Ceremony at Church House, Dean’s Yard, Westminster. The prizes, which might be compared to the Pulitzer Prizes in the U.S., are given to a journalist, a book author and – just since last year – to a blogger.

George Orwell

The Orwell Prizes have become Britain’s most prestigious awards for political writing.
About 400 people gathered for the presentations. The winners are kept secret until they are announced.

The room was filled with journalists from all over Great Britain. This year, 212 books were entered for the Book Prize, 85 journalists for the Journalism Prize, and 164 bloggers for the Blog Prize. These were pared down by a distinguished group of judges to a “shortlist” of 6 books, 7 journalists and 6 bloggers. Most of the shortlisters were there, hoping to accept in person if they won.

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Who will hold the news media accountable?

OXFORD UNIVERSITY, ENGLAND – Is there a need for media accountability in the chaotic new world of online journalism? If so, who will hold the media accountable?

In-house ombudsmen? Outside news and press councils? Independent media critics?

The “blogosphere”? All of the above?

Those were among the existential questions at the Organization of News Ombudsmen’s annual convention at Oxford University from May 12-15. The gathering was hosted by the Reuters Center for the Study of Journalism, headquartered at Oxford.

I was invited to join a panel: “Press Councils and Ombudsmen: A New Partnership?”

[Read more...]


WNC awards two $2,000 scholarships

The Washington News Council has awarded two $2,000 scholarships to Washington state students planning careers in communications. The scholarships are named after Dick Larsen and Herb Robinson, both former editors at The Seattle Times.

The 2009 WNC Dick Larsen Scholarship winner is:

CHANTAL ANDERSON (left), 20, a senior at the University of Washington who is majoring in journalism and international studies with a minor in Spanish. Chantal was a reporter intern for The Seattle Times in Olympia during the 2009 Legislature. She also is on the staff of The U.W. Daily, and has been a reporter intern for Real Change, a nonprofit weekly newspaper. She is secretary of the U.W. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and also runs a wedding photography business. In an essay accompanying her scholarship application, Chantal wrote:

“The convergence of print and online journalism has redefined the way reporters and readers interpret and define ethics today. The new mantra of newsrooms to churn out stories at high speeds, mixed with emerging professional and personal blogs, has created an upsurge of content on the net. These new forms of media have blurred ethical ideas…. I believe honoring ethical standards has become more challenging for professional journalists in the digital age.”

The 2009 Herb Robinson Scholarship winner is:

SARAH REYES (right), 18, who just graduated from Rogers High School in Spokane and will enter Washington State University in the fall. She plans to study at the Edward R. Murrow College of Journalism. Sarah maintained a 4.0 GPA through high school while taking AP courses in English and history. She was a member of the National Honor Society and a valedictorian. She was also a writer and copy editor for The VOX, a student newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, and worked as an intern at The Spokesman. In an essay accompanying her application, Sarah wrote:

“In today’s world of media and technology, it seems that anyone can get away with saying anything….The First Amendment is something that we as Americans should truly cherish. There are journalists killed around the world for talking about topics that come as second nature to journalists in the United States. We need to use it to our advantage and make sure that it is not abused because nothing is certain and this is a right that might not be around forever.”

Scholarships are funded by donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. Since 2000, the WNC has awarded 20 scholarships with a total value of $25,000.

CONTACT: John Hamer, Executive Director, 206.262.9793 (info@wanewscouncil.org)


On John Seigenthaler’s April 18 presentation

John Seigenthaler knows the First Amendment perhaps as well as anyone. But it wasn’t always that way.

“It was almost 60 years ago that I first walked into a newsroom,” he said in his presentation to about 100 people at Seattle Public Library. “For most of those years as a working journalist, I took the First Amendment for granted.”

Not anymore. He founded the First Amendment Center in 1991 with the mission of creating national discussion, dialogue and debate about our First Amendment rights and values. [Read more...]