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Seattle Times top newsman asks readers to trust news staffOctober 21, 2012 @ 6:38 am (Updated: 11:06 am - 10/21/12 )
"The best way to find out if you can trust a man, Ernest Hemingway advised, is to trust him," writes Executive Editor David Boardman, who didn't know about his company's plan to campaign on behalf of one candidate and one state-wide ballot measure.
A newspaper advertising executive said last week it was a "business decision that is completely separate from journalism functions of the newspaper."
Staffers didn't see it that way. They drafted a letter to the publisher, Frank Blethen, say he's undermined their independence and credibility.
In Sunday's Seattle Times, Boardman offers readers inside view of his newsroom with A vow to continue impartial reporting.
Boardman started at the paper 29 years ago. He's now in charge of the newsroom, but not the opinion page or advertising.
"I've been in the trenches with these business-side colleagues over the past few difficult years, as we've worked together to cut costs while sustaining quality journalism and service. I admire their passion and creativity in trying to capture some of the tens of millions of dollars that are spent locally on political advertising each campaign season, mostly on television. They are driven by a desire to fund Seattle Times journalism," writes Boardman. "But no one in the newsroom, including me, had any involvement in this project."
He continues, describing newsroom reaction to the ads and what he hopes readers will remember about the journalists at the Times.
"Normally, a fast-growing buzz in our newsroom is a beacon of a breaking story, the aural manifestation of adrenaline rush. Wednesday morning's buzz was different," he writes. "Within minutes of seeing the ad, a group of reporters began to draft a letter to our publisher."
Boardman stresses the Times newsroom has always been "independent" and cites examples of what the Pulitzer Prize winning staff has accomplished: Revealing safety problems in the Boeing 737. Exposing recruiting violations and criminal misconduct in the University of Washington football program. Uncovering how school districts were complicit in the sexual abuse of young girls by dozens of middle- and high-school coaches. Exposing fraud in the federal tribal-housing program. Revealing how a state program that promoted methadone as a painkiller had killed hundreds of our most vulnerable citizens.
"They say past performance is the best indicator of future performance. As Hemingway advised, let us show you," he concludes.
By LINDA THOMAS Full disclosure, David Boardman is a friend and mentor.
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