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The Seattle Times' Political Ads Cause Controversy

The Seattle Times
Flickr photo/Mr. T in D.C.

The Seattle Times Company began running its own political ads on Wednesday in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and same-sex marriage.

Industry observers are questioning this new move.

Alan Fisco, an executive with The Seattle Times, says print newspapers miss out on the millions of dollars in campaign spending that go to broadcast television.

Fisco says that this new ad campaign is meant to demonstrate the importance of print newspapers to political advertising. "We hope and expect this will result in greater revenue to our newspaper," he says.

The Seattle Times reporters and editors were not involved in the decision to run the ads, but Fisco says increased political advertising will help fund reporting in the future.

The union representing the reporters says it is deeply concerned with the newspapers actions.

Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute is also critical of the ads. He says this new campaign will negatively affect the credibility of the newspaper and its reporters. "It is difficult to have to go out into the world and be fair, evenhanded, non-partisan, in the face of the fact that the newspaper is running house ads in support of a particular political point of view," says Clark.

For his part, Fisco disagrees with Clark. He says he hopes that readers will recognize this as a way to show the power of political advertising.

The cost of the ads amounts to more than $150,000 for the two campaigns.