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This news media blog explores the nexus between the press, the public and technology with two missions. One, to engage citizens in an online conversation about the role of the news media in their lives, in the hope that they will use and critique the media more effectively. And secondly to explore how the press can remain relevant, essential and accountable to citizens and communities.

Mike Fancher is Editor at Large of The Seattle Times.

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April 18, 2008 11:30 AM

Technical fouls in the Sonics fan forum

Posted by Mike Fancher

The Seattle Times is more circumspect than most newspapers when it comes to letting readers turn its Internet site into a free-for-all. The most recent example was locking down the Sonics Fan Forum, after name-calling flame wars broke out between fans here and in Oklahoma City.

The Times doesn't allow inflammatory or objectionable comments, comments that are off-topic, personal attacks or obscene language. Some will deride the newspaper's desire to maintain civility, but so be it. They can work out their aggression elsewhere on the Internet, but not in our house.

At the request of readers who want a respectful dialogue, The Times has restored the forum with this request and warning:

But PLEASE, PLEASE try to keep the discussions civil. Do not attack or denigrate other posters - on the other hand, feel free to dispute their comments with your own informed and mature comments.


We understand that this is a stressful time in this team's history, and that passions run hot. But that doesn't mean this is the Wild West, where anything goes. Children read these boards too....

And we'll be operating on a zero tolerance policy. If you're posting solely to agitate people, you're gone. End of story.

Comments | Category: Journalism ethics |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 3, 2008 9:20 AM

Prince Harry -- Readers sound off; ethicist has a different view

Posted by Mike Fancher

Seattle Times readers who responded to an online poll said overwhelmingly that Prince Harry's fighting in Afghanistan should have been withheld from the public until after he returned to England. Ninety-two percent of 359 people who responded took that view.

British news organizations and the Associated Press had agreed not to report that the prince was in Afghanistan for what was supposed to be a four- to six-month assignment. In return for their silence, they would get special access to him during and after his assignment and could report on it once he returned. The entire affair sparked an ongoing media debate.

The news organizations were holding up their end of the bargain, but the information was leaked to the Drudge Report, which posted it online last week. Seattle Times readers said that was wrong.

But Bob Steele, probably the most highly-regarded journalism ethics thinker in the country, sees the question in a different way. He says the press should never have agreed to the deal in the first place. Press Here to see Steele's comments on his "Everyday Ethics" site. He writes:

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Journalism ethics , News judgment , You be the editor |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

March 2, 2008 8:00 AM

When the news is bad -- shoot the messenger

Posted by Mike Fancher

How angry are Boeing supporters about the tanker deal going to AIrbus? Mad enough that one Seattle Times reader wanted to shoot the messenger for publishing an unrelated troubling story at a time when the aerospace giant is hurting:

Why did you print the story "Inspector finds "weaknesses" in oversight of aircraft quality"? On the day after Boeing lost the military contract to an overseas company, you had to print this! When is the Seattle Times going to stand up for Boeing or any other American company? When is the Seattle Times going to become patriotic and support the taxpayers?


Your paper has once again disgusted me to no end, the sickening liberal news media can not even stand up and be patriotic. I'm sure your paper supports the decision to send billions and billions of dollars to France - your paper makes me sick. Why is it the American people has to put up with this - maybe next time be a little bit more considerate. Boeing is a good company, how many Boeing airplanes fly every single day with no problems? Maybe you could print a story on that next time. Disgusting!

My response to the reader:

Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Journalism ethics , News judgment , You be the editor |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 29, 2008 3:45 PM

The "person of interest who wasn't" is dead

Posted by Mike Fancher

In late January I wrote a blog item about The Seattle Times' handled a story about a 29-year-old man who was a person of interest in the Capitol Hill stabbing of Shannon Harps. The Times didn't name the man, who was subsequently cleared of the crime, but printed extensive details about him

Today the newspaper does name him, in a story about his tortured life and death. William Francis Ball was stabbed to death in the heart. His body was found around midnight Feb. 21 in the 10300 block of Greenwood Avenue North. Police are investigating, and no arrests have been made.


Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Journalism ethics , News judgment |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 29, 2008 7:20 AM

You be the editor -- Prince Harry in Afghanistan

Posted by Mike Fancher

Should news of Prince Harry's deployment in Afghanistan have been withheld or reported?




The British press and Associated Press had known for weeks that he was there, but didn't publish the information for security reasons. Press Here for the story. The AP wrote:

The deployment plan had been disclosed to reporters, with no specific date, but was not reported previously because of an agreement between the Ministry of Defense and all major news organizations operating in Britain, including The Associated Press. The news blackout was intended to reduce the risk to the prince and his regiment.

The Washington Post called that a "remarkable deal between the British military and the news media."

Yesterday the story broke on the Drudge Report. It's not clear how Drudge learned of the deployment.

Now that the story is out, the British military and press are making the most of it, as illustrated by this report in the Telegraph.

And, the debate is underway over whether the story should have been held in the first place and whether it should have been revealed while the prince, third in line to the British throne, was still on the battlefield.

You be the editor.

Comments | Category: Journalism ethics , News industry developments , You be the editor |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

February 26, 2008 4:05 PM

I feel like the groundhog at large, but I'm back

Posted by Mike Fancher

I've spent some time hibernating near Winthrop. Now that I've popped my head out, some of what I see makes me want to go back underground.

Speaking of the New York Times, I'll confess I read portions of its John McCain romance article on my iPhone while dining at a wi-fi-equipped restaurant. As I read out loud, my wife kept saying, "That's not a story." Apparently The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer agreed, as neither chose to print the piece.

I couldn't resist sending an e-mail from the dinner table to Times Executive Editor David Boardman, asking his take. He replied:

Well, I was uncomfortable enough with it that we didn't use it. But I also knew that it would be the talk of the news cycle, and we used a Washington Post version that focused strictly on her status as lobbyist, not as possible mistress.


Continue reading this post ...


Comments | Category: Journalism ethics , Media bias , News judgment |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

Recent entries

Apr 18, 08 - 11:30 AM
Technical fouls in the Sonics fan forum

Mar 3, 08 - 09:20 AM
Prince Harry -- Readers sound off; ethicist has a different view

Mar 2, 08 - 08:00 AM
When the news is bad -- shoot the messenger

Feb 29, 08 - 03:45 PM
The "person of interest who wasn't" is dead

Feb 29, 08 - 07:20 AM
You be the editor -- Prince Harry in Afghanistan

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