September 17, 2012

The Seattle Times | Association of Opinion Journalists | The New York Times | On the Media
A Seattle Times editorial published Monday asks for help from readers who approve of the editorial board’s support of a Washington state referendum that will enshrine same-sex marriage in state law.

The editorial directs readers to a photo of a sign published in the Sunday print paper and a link to the photo. It then asks them to:

Take a photo of you, your partner or your family holding this sign and share it on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #IDo74. You can also email the photo to

The paper has a photo gallery of people holding the sign. The Seattle Times’ editorial section, which is a finalist for 2012 the Online News Association awards, has been experimenting with new ways of approaching editorials. Earlier this year, it published a “rap op-ed” in response to local shootings.

In other editorial news, Halifax Media has announced that it will end candidate endorsements in its newspapers. Bill McGoun writes about the reaction Association of Opinion Journalists members had to that news; Harry Austin of the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times Free Press told McGoun that having two opinion pages — one liberal, one conservative — hasn’t lessened accusations of bias any.

“We¹ve had dual, free-standing editorial pages since the two former papers were bought and merged in 1999. The arrangement would seem to allow our paper to be free of charges of partisan bias, but we still get them,” Austin said.

Bias’ evil twin is what New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan calls “false balance” in her inaugural print column. Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards at the Times, tells Sullivan: “I think editors and reporters are more willing now than in the past to drill down into claims and assertions, in politics and other areas, and really try to help readers sort out conflicting claims.” She cites stories on climate change and evolution as subjects in which The Times has addressed controversy without rolling over. (Just aggregating this, I can feel my email inbox filling up.)

Similarly, false balance became a topic a few years ago during the dispute over the teaching of “intelligent design” versus evolution. The Times responded by inserting language like this: “There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. Courts have repeatedly ruled that creationism and intelligent design are religious doctrines, not scientific theories.”

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City…
Andrew Beaujon

More News

Back to News