Awkward: Seattle Times fact-checks its owner's political ads

Seattle Times

The Seattle Times Co. sponsored political ads in its paper with claims that aren't entirely true, the Seattle Times reports. If that sounds a little twisted, it is.

The short story is the Times' business side has been running free political ads in support of a Republican gubernatorial candidate, which the news staff has protested and Executive Editor David Boardman, a member of Poynter's National Advisory Board, addressed in a recent column.

Now the Times has turned its fact-checkers loose on the ads, and given them a rating of "half true." Altogether, the two ads that were checked contained two true claims, one mostly true, one half true and two that were false, the paper reported.

Boardman tweeted the story, addressed to "anyone who dared doubt the independence and integrity of the Seattle Times newsroom." Readers leaving comments, however, are largely not absolving the newsroom. A sampling:

  • "Seattle Times Co. IS the Seattle Times. To try to rationalize by saying their employees / reporters are somehow a different entity is absurd. I hope people vote on this unacceptable situation with their pocketbooks and stop buying this paper."
  • "The Times has committed journalistic suicide and probably shouldn't be saved."
  • "Seems the Times currently runs two businesses; a propaganda arm, and a counter-propaganda arm."
  • "Is this supposed to prove that the news end is separate from the business end? I'm not sure what it proves, except it sure is confusing to be a consumer of the Seattle Times."
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    Jeff Sonderman

    Jeff Sonderman is the deputy director of the American Press Institute, helping to lead its use of research, tools, events, and strategic insights to advance and sustain journalism.


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