But enough about me for a moment; let’s talk about another Seattle media entity of interest to nearly as many people: The Seattle Times.
On his blog, Postman writes about a memo from Executive Editor David Boardman directing staff members to refrain from participating in the upcoming presidential caucus and primary, fearing that it might compromise the
Federation’s profession’s prime directive: objectivity. Boardman worries that primary list is a public record, as is which party’s ballot one chooses, and that some jerk might look it up: “Count on The Stranger, the Weekly and the political blogs to do just that,” Boardman frets.
Huh. Actually, the thought never occurred to me. Thanks for the idea Dave. Boardman continues:
“In this age of sharply partisan talk shows and blogs, our credibility and impartiality are more precious than ever. They are the capital we have to carry us into the future, the qualities that most separate us from all of the other places readers and Web users can go for news and information.”
Um, actually, what most separates stodgy old media from all us “other places” is that we generally offer our audience a more compelling and entertaining read. If blogs and other online media continue to gain audience at the expense of newspapers, it certainly isn’t because we have some competitive advantage or marketing muscle. So perhaps, maybe, could it be that we simply provide a better product? And if so, wouldn’t the Times be better served by hiring themselves some edgy new columnists rather than trusting that “credibility and impartiality” will eventually win the day? (FYI, I know of a newly unemployed radio host who would jump at the opportunity for a regular column.)
In fact, since journalists do have opinions and partisan leanings, wouldn’t it be more honest to be up front about it and say “Yeah… I’m a Democrat” and then let readers understand your reporting within that context? I’m not saying journalists shouldn’t strive to be objective or impartial — there’s room for both traditional journalism and the advocacy kind that I practice — it’s just that it’s kinda disingenuous to imply that they actually are.
Just a thought.