by Carl, 02/27/2013, 8:04 AM

Sometimes The Seattle Times has great, important, relevant stories that put a new light on something in the Northwest that otherwise wouldn’t be covered. And I’m going to miss some of those when I don’t read their website behind its paywall. But sometimes they just do hack pieces that they claim are important stories. More and more it’s looking like the Rob Holland piece falls on the hack side.

Except that’s not what happened and that’s not what the report found. Martin did not use Holland’s credit card to purchase anything, and the report Heffter cites actually found this particular allegation to be “unsubstantiated” (PDF, page 25). Martin has repeatedly asked Heffter and Kreamer to issue a correction, and they have repeatedly refused.

“At the end of the day, all you have is your reputation,” Martin told me. And he desperately wants his reputation cleared. The Seattle Times has yet to respond to a request for comment.


But also, reading their emails to Martin, both Heffter and Kreamer just come off as incredibly confused. “There is a receipt and additional official documentation showing you as the purchaser of camera equipment for the Port, with Commissioner Holland’s Port credit card being used,” Kreamer writes to Martin in a February 25 email, totally ignoring the fact that this so-called “receipt” proves nothing of the kind. “The Port report you cite says the third-party use of the card (by you) was not found to be unauthorized, but we never wrote that it was,” Kreamer continues. “The items purchased were indeed for Port use, the audit found.”

When the Seattle Times goes out of their way to point out stories like this one are vital to the region, so we need to support them, well, you’d think they would at least work harder to get the story right.

35 Responses to “Another Thing I Won’t Miss For Not Having a Subscription”

1. Pee spews:

Heffter, for anyone keeping score – and local politicos keep scores like this very, very carefully – is the same hack who destroyed Darcy Burner’s congressional campaign in 2008 over a non-issue. She has a well-earned reputation, with that and many other stories, of getting her facts wrong, often in ways that reinforce the Times’ editorial biases. Little wonder she still has a job there, or that, if like any sane journalist who’s been looking at alternate careers, she hasn’t found anyone else willing to hire her.

I hope they build that paywall very, very high. Maybe it’ll help keep the stench in.

2. Pete spews:

Oops. Typo’ed my name in @1. Somehow, commenting on Heffter, it fits.

3. Serial conservative spews:

@ 1

Is it Burner, or Heffter, with the reputation for mangling facts?

Burner’s done a pretty good job damaging her own reputation, BTW.

4. ArtFart spews:

Yesterday I grabbed a copy of what today is last week’s edition of The Stranger for amusement while waiting for the bus. I found instead a piece about Catholic health care organizations buying their way into secular ones and imposing parts or all of the Vatican’s code of medical ethics, which among other things specifically prohibits aborting ectopic pregnancies, or in any way interfering with the “natural course of things” as long as there’s a detectable fetal heartbeat. (Think of a certain notorious case in Ireland not long ago…)

My main point here is not so much to start a debate over reproductive rights as to point out that I found the article not only provocative but extensively researched and very well written, and dealing head-on with a significant issue that so far has eluded much public attention. Not at all unlike the sort of excellent investigative journalism Frank’s rag used to be known for, back when it was a real newspaper.

5. Serial conservative spews:


Not only that, but you didn’t even have to pay to grab that paper.

I’m curious: Does The Stranger make money? Are the ad rates per-reader on par with what the Seattle Times gets?

I wonder if The Stranger has a core audience that is more likely to support those advertising in it than the Times audience is to support Times advertisers.

Could The Stranger work on a large basis, or is it only successful as a niche publication?

I have no dog in this hunt. I read Seattle Weekly about twice a month. Stranger, pretty infrequently, as it’s not frequently available in places I usually am when I have the not frequent spare time.

6. Roger Rabbit spews:

An engineer goes to college for 4 or 5 years to get a degree. To get that degree he must be able to add 2 + 2 and get the right answer, 4, every time.

A journalist goes to college for 4 years (or more) to learn how to report, write, and edit. I know all about this because I attended one of the nation’s top journalism schools and worked as a newspaper reporter before becoming a lawyer. Also, my father was a legendary midwest news reporter — the kind of old school reporter who taught new generations of reporters how it should be done.

There’s a reason why engineers have to be good at math. If they aren’t, wings fall off planes, or bridges collapse, and people die.

For similar reasons, journalists have to get the story right. If they don’t, innocent reputations are destroyed, good careers are ruined, and important public policy decisions are made based on false information. Newspapers can’t afford to lie, and we can’t afford to let them lie.

No one is perfect. When you make a mistake, you admit it, and you correct it. Unless, of course, you’re the governor of Texas, your name is Rick Perry, and you’ve allowed an innocent man to be executed because you refused to read the report exonerating him before the warden pulled the switch, in which case you replace the entire state forensics board investigating your lethal screw-up with loyal hacks because you’re running for president and don’t want voters to know that you killed an innocent man because you’re an impulsive, impetuous, and stupid shit of a man who doesn’t know right from wrong and can’t be trusted to buy a quart of yogurt in a grocery store. We don’t expect anything of our politicians, especially Republican ones, because we can’t; they go into politics because they’re not good for anything else.

Which makes it all the more important that newspapers get stories about what our public officials are up to right. The Seattle Times wasn’t exactly on the leading edge of exposing the lies that took us into an unnecessary, bloody, and bungled war in Iraq. They’ve never, in living memory, been a profile in journalistic courage — they can’t hold a candle to a journalistic powerhouse like The Point Reyes Light in its glory days. Their editorial board distressingly combines stupidity and vapidity with distressing regularity, especially during election seasons. We’ve learned not to expect much from The Seattle Times.

But c’mon, people. You all have college degrees. You went to college to learn how to think. That’s what college is for, not to make people remember all the stuff they have to memorize for tests and forget a week later. You reporters supposedly are certified thinkers. And if you’re any good as a reporter, you’re expected to be able to look at a piece of paper and figure out what it is, and if you can’t, then at least be smart enough to ask someone to explain it to you. Like the retail clerk who issued it. Did you call the store and ask to speak with the clerk? Or with a manager who can explain to you the difference between a sales quote and a receipt?

Please. Seattle Times, if you can’t do any better than this, get out of the business. The Stranger’s masthead proclaims itself as “Seattle’s only newspaper.” You’re proving them right.

7. Roger Rabbit spews:

@3 “Is it Burner, or Heffter, with the reputation for mangling facts?”

That’s easy. Heffter. Burner’s explanation of her Harvard degree in economics was fully backed up by a Harvard dean. That’s good enough for everyone in the world except Heffter, her editors, you, and the Republican swarm who don’t care about truth under any circumstances.

8. Roger Rabbit spews:

@5 “I read Seattle Weekly about twice a month. Stranger, pretty infrequently …”

That, of course, is exactly what we expect from you. Meanwhile, you chew out Art for reading The Stranger without paying for it, but you read The Seattle Weekly without paying for it … maybe the reason you read Weekly and not Stranger is because the former is free and the latter isn’t? But go read ahead and spew your hypocritical tripe; you couldn’t possibly be more of a buffoon than you already are, so you have no reputation to protect in these threads …

9. ArtFart spews:

@5 Perhaps a better comparison would be with Real Change, which people actually do pay for.

10. Serial conservative spews:

@ 6

No one is perfect. When you make a mistake, you admit it, and you correct it.

Or, you suddenly realize that, despite having little else to do during your glaringly senescent years, you really would prefer not to acknowledge a mistake, after all, and so you instead claim too little time to make the correction:

11. Serial conservative spews:

@ 8

Apologies to Art if I gave the impression that he was one to avoid paying for something. Noted, RR. See how easy it is @ 10 to acknowledge a mistake?

My point was that the benefits Art pointed out were in a publication that bears no cost to its reader, other than an implied hope that the reader would patronize the advertisers. A seeming additional benefit to reading The Stranger.

12. No Time for Fascists spews:

@11 Serial Conn, speaking of “avoid paying for something”, have you made good on your debt yet and sent in a check for Northwest Harvest or have you continued to not live up to your promises?

13. Brenda Helverson spews:

@6, Roger Rabbit spewed: A journalist goes to college for 4 years (or more) to learn how to report, write, and edit.

Probably true then. And your college-educated journalists started in Aberdeen or Walla Walla and dreamed of someday working for The Seattle Times. Now the little newspapers are recruiting writers out of high school and the pipeline of future journalists that your Dad enjoyed (and was surrounded by in his news room)has dried up.

At KCWT-TV in Wenatchee (remember them?), our news people longed to work at KSTW-TV News (remember them?). I once had some fun & games with fairly good reporters from The South County Journal(remember them?).

Looking at today’s journalistic climate, would you major in Journalism today?

14. ArtFart spews:

I probably patronize about as many of The Stranger’s advertisers as I do those of the Times, although I have to admit i’ve not put any real effort into keeping track.

In point of fact, The Stranger apparently does manage to squeeze enough revenue out of its advertisers to keep the lights on and pay for the staffers’ bus fares and Dan’s bar tab. Similarly, for the most part big dailies like the Times used to be and still tries to pretend it is always made their big bucks from ad revenue–subscriptions and the newsstand price have always been a bit of a scam to co-opt their readers into funding the cost of getting those ads in front of their eyeballs. Paid viewing on the Internet is another matter–people will put up with that if the content is sufficient in quantity and quality to make it seem worth their while. The New York Times seems to be getting some traction with this, and the Chicago Tribune and its sister publications to a lesser degree. Fairview Fanny, on the other hand, may have waited too long–The NYT charges less for a digital subscription than they’re planning to, and at this point they have a lot less to offer.

15. Ten Years After spews:

I’m afraid that journalism has become advocacy for competing ideologies. The truth is simply something to be manipulated by these so-called journalists to promote some political agenda, whether the agenda is sponsored by liberals or conservatives. It doesn’t matter – the outcome is biased reporting of half-truths and outright lies.

Journalists, just report the news and leave your ideologies out of it.

16. Czechsaaz spews:


The times has about 2.5x bigger circulation than the Stranger and charges $425 per column inch for ads. (Much less for institutional daily ads like Auto dealers, Nordstrom/Macy’s, etc.) $425/day is WAY out of reach for small businesses.

A small business can advertise in The Stranger for as low as $85 inch. There’s a reason why there are, by number and by variety, way more ads in a weekly Stranger than there are in a daily Times.

If you’re a small Kids Clothing store or Coffee shop/Cafe for example, you can advertise in the stranger for 5 weeks for what it costs to advertise in the Times for a day. And as this post suggests, people might read The Stranger long after the publication date but not so much with a daily. When was the last time you picked up Monday’s Times and read an article on a Wednesday? Hell, by then the AP and NY Times reprints are five days old.

There are many reasons why the Times’ business model is dying, advertising rates among them.

17. Czechsaaz spews:


As I alluded to in @16, I’m more likely to patronize an advertiser in The Stranger than the Times. Why?

Well, start-ups can’t really afford the Times. But I’m a home brewer and big supporter of local breweries. If I see an ad for a rare keg tapping at Beverige Place in the Stranger I make an effort to get over there. There are five breweries that have opened in the last two years just in Ballard. I found out about some of them in The Stranger. (Washington Beer Blog is also helpful.)

Yep, I’m one of those crazy people who will always prefer to shop at Elliott Bay over Barnes and Noble, Full Throttle over BevMo, White Horse over Toys r Us, Calf and the Kid over Whole Foods…

18. Roger Rabbit spews:

10, 11 – I didn’t make a mistake, you did, but you’re too stupid to see it. Inasmuch as I have already explained your mistake several times, it’s pointless to beat on this horse further; it died some time ago. In particular, see comment #41 in yesterday’s “Drinking Liberally” thread.

19. Roger Rabbit spews:

@16 “There are many reasons why the Times’ business model is dying, advertising rates among them.”

The main reason is lousy management.

20. Gman spews:

I’m not sure if it would work with the Seatle Times but usually you can get the “paid” for article for free by typing in the article headline and the name of the paper in the google search. Works for Boston Globe and the NY Post articles.

21. Ekim spews:

@16 “There are many reasons why the Times’ business model is dying, advertising rates among them.”

Pissing on their readers is another.

22. Ekim spews:

When the Seattle Times becomes relevant again I will think about a paid subscription. I cancelled my subscription with them a long time ago and don’t miss it. As to the online version, I sometimes have clicked on a link to them from a link in HA.

I preferred the Seattle PI when it was still printed on paper. And since I prefer the PI online over the Times online I see the Times subscription model as an epic fail.

23. rhp6033 spews:

Our web business is directed at a specific target “niche” audience. It’s about as non-political as you can get. As part of that service, I give regular news summaries of interest to that audience, consisting of a short blurb and a link to the article.

The Seattle Times has, for several years, complained that this type of linkage is destroying it’s business model, because it summarizes the article with a lead-in. Apparantly they think this is stealing their content. I’ve never understood that reasoning – after all, I’m SENDING readers to their online edition, where they can pepper them with any ads they wish.

But now that the Times is about to install the pay wall, I will simply quit linking to their site, and perhaps just use the Seattle P.I. for local stories and the wire services for national stories.

Which is why the Seattle Times management is like unto a man standing on the train tracks, and as the locomotive named progress approaches, extends the palm of it’s hand and exclaims Stop! No more!”.

24. MikeBoyScout spews:

A thought about pay walls —-

Walls are constructed to keep unwanteds out.
I suspect the product used mostly for puppy trainers wants to keep out free loaders.

Well, what if HA constructed a pay wall for Kap’n Kornflake – Serial RENEGER?

25. rhp6033 spews:

# 24: A simple IQ test ought to do it.

26. MikeBoyScout spews:

like “Spell IQ“?

27. Ten Years After spews:

Or have someone think of a number and then ask the person being tested to think of a number that’s one higher!

28. Roger Rabbit spews:

@13 Well, what I notice today is, a lot of so-called journalists can’t spell simple English words, and don’t know the difference between “effect” and “affect.” Or maybe those are typos and news organizations can’t afford copyeditors anymore?

29. Roger Rabbit spews:

@15 That’s how they did things in Russia for a very long time, and Russia is still there, although I wouldn’t want to live there, either under the old regime or the present one.

30. Roger Rabbit spews:

25, 26 – What would we do for trolls? We’d have to hire some. Yeah, I know, the free trolls are no good — you get what you pay for — but our trolls are so bad maybe HA does need a pay wall. But only for the most egregiously moronic trolls. I have a specific one in mind.

31. Roger Rabbit spews:

27 – That’ll eliminate all the Republicans and most libertarians.

32. Ten Years After spews:

And most graduates of our public schools.

33. Jason Osgood spews:

rhp @ 23

There’s a case to be made for charging for links. I’m slowly warming up to the idea. Mostly because 1) we have to pay for journalism somehow and 2) linkers are currently getting more value than the linkees.

Here’s some recaps of what our friends in Europe are doing.

34. Ekim spews:

@33, I have no problem paying for journalism. The problem is the ST does little of it, certainly not of either quantity or quality to consider paying for it.

35. ArtFart spews:

The PI is almost a shadow company, probably with a staff smaller than The Stranger’s. They do still have a few decent writers, but they certainly don’t field much of a team of reporters pounding the pavement chasing stories. If you take a good hard look at the site about 90% of the content is low-budget wire service copy, links to celebrity-gossip crap or material that stays up until long after it loses any sort of relevance.