Seattle Times running ads in favor of McKenna

OLYMPIA — The Seattle Times Co. began an active campaign Wednesday to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and gay marriage, part of a push to demonstrate the effectiveness of newspaper political advertising.

Washington state’s largest newspaper began with a full-page ad calling McKenna “a choice that will make us all proud.” The newspaper’s editorial board has endorsed McKenna over Democratic candidate Jay Inslee in what is one of the most watched campaigns for governor in the country.

The company said it’s also giving an in-kind donation of ad space to the political campaign that supports the gay marriage ballot measure that will be decided by state voters next month. In a statement, the company said it hopes the advertising effort will demonstrate the strength of print political advertising, noting that political ad spending mostly focuses on broadcast and direct mail.

“This is a business decision that is completely separate from journalism functions of the newspaper,” said Alan Fisco, executive vice president for revenue and new products at the newspaper, in a statement. “The ads will be clearly identified as ads and there is no intersection between the advertising and our editorial commentary or news reporting.”

Times spokeswoman Jill Mackie said the contributions to the two campaigns would be valued at about $75,000 each. She said that value means ads will appear a number of times in various forms between now and Election Day.

Inslee’s campaign said the ads raise serious questions about objectivity.

“Copy for the ad had to be written, artwork had to be prepared by someone,” said Inslee spokesman Sterling Clifford. “It is difficult to believe that none of the Times’ supposedly neutral newsroom resources were used for this partisan ad.”

Roy Peter Clark, who teaches writing and ethics at the Poynter Institute, said the advertising poses challenges for the newspaper and its credibility. He said readers already have the misconception that editorials supporting a candidate indicate bias in the paper’s reporting, even though outlets typically work to separate their news and opinion operations.

“It seems like what they’re trying to do now builds another kind of a credibility obstacle for the people who are doing the reporting on the ground,” Clark said.

Clark said the problem isn’t a new one as various newspaper companies over the years have waded into political or policy issues.

The newspaper’s ad that was published Wednesday will have to be reported as an independent expenditure within 24 hours, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Talk to us

More in Local News

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Retooling drug laws, protecting octopus and honoring a cactus

It’s already Day 26. Here’s what’s happening in the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

April Berg, left, and John Lovick
Snohomish County legislators talk race, policy in Seattle

Rep. April Berg and Sen. John Lovick chatted about Tyre Nichols and education at an event kicking off Black History Month.

Tala Davey-Wraight, 3, is thrown in the air by her dad Oscar Davey-Wraight, one of the Summer Meltdown headliners also known as Opiuo, during Cory Wong’s set on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After Monroe debut, no Summer Meltdown music fest in 2023

Organizers announced Wednesday they would “take the year off in order to figure out the best path forward for Summer Meltdown in 2024.”

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
High winds in Everett, north Puget Sound expected Friday

Winds could top 40 mph in Everett — and likely higher farther north — causing power outages and tree damage.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mountlake Terrace council taps planning commissioner for open seat

With five votes, Rory Paine-Donovan was affirmed to join the ranks of the Mountlake Terrace City Council.

Federal agents seized many pounds of meth and heroin, along with thousands of suspected fentanyl pills, at a 10-acre property east of Arlington in mid-December 2020. (U.S. Attorney’s Office) 20201223
Leader of Snohomish County fentanyl, meth ring gets federal prison

A search of Cesar Valdez-Sanudo’s property in Arlington unearthed kilos of drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Karla Wislon holds a champagne glass while celebrating the closing sale of her home in Palm Springs, Ca. on May 14, 2021. (Family photo)
Former state Rep. Karla Wilson, 88, remembered as ‘smart, energetic’

Wilson served the 39th Legislative district from 1985 to 1991. She died Dec. 31.

Most Read