BNT editorial stirs media conversation
Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly and seattlepi.com add their two cents
The Ballard News-Tribune editorial, "Seattle Times attacks against McGinn disheartening," stirred conversation within the media the past couple of weeks.
In the editorial, Associate Publisher Ken Robinson accused the Seattle Times of biased reporting, with journalists mounting an attack on Mayor Mike McGinn by omitting any due credit and pinning blame on him when they can.
In the editorial, Robinson writes, "But we get it. Whose bread I eat, his song I sing. All those writers want to keep their jobs and you do that by writing what the boss tells you to write."
Over at the Seattle Times, columnist Danny Westneat retorts this claim. In his column, "The Seattle Times does not have it in for Mayor McGinn," he denotes the idea that publisher Frank Blethen comes into the room and tells him to dismantle McGinn.
Westneat writes, “In my nearly 10 years writing a column here, neither the publisher, Frank Blethen, nor any other boss has ever requested that I write on anything specific (including this column). Nor has the publisher stopped me from writing anything, or complained to me about what I wrote (including when I opposed an estate-tax initiative the newspaper contributed money to).”
But Seattle Weekly's Daniel Person says Westneat fails to note how narratives are formed in the newsroom, and how the Seattle Times newsroom has formed the McGinn narrative in a negative light. The Weekly, which published an article prior to the BNT editorial about the Seattle Times' "steady drumbeat of searing criticism" against McGinn, had their own two cents to give on Westneat's column.
Person writes, "What Westneat fails to note is that newsrooms, and thus newspapers, do have narratives. Reporters and editors talk to each other and debate each other and in that way come to a somewhat general consensus about what framework stories should be given: What should be taken for granted, what shouldn’t; what deserves scrutiny, what doesn’t; What’s a front-page story, what belongs back with the funnies."
Rounding all of this up is seattlepi.com's mainstay columnist Joel Connelly. Instead of criticizing coverage of McGinn, he criticizes newspapers' coverage of themselves. In his column, "Seattle media on mayor's race: It's all about us," he chastises the BNT, the Seattle Times, the Seattle Weekly, The Stranger and Publicola for inserting their own egos into the mayor's race.
"The navel-gazing and insider-feuding have reached a point of wretched excess," Connelly pointedly writes, reminding journalists that "The best reporters listen; self-important scribes write/talk about themselves."
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