More than 100 Seattle Times’ staff members have signed a protest letter delivered to Times publisher Frank Blethen today over the newspaper company’s decision to run political ads that benefit Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and same-sex marriage Referendum 74.
The letter states the company’s decision to run the ads ”threatens the two things we value most, the traits that make The Seattle Times a strong brand: Our independence and credibility.”
The letter was signed by “reporters, photographers, editors, columnists, artists and producers” who work for the newspaper. A copy of the letter that was posted on the newspaper’s website today with Times political reporter Jim Brunner‘s blog post about it, did not include the names of protesting staff members who signed it. (UPDATE 6:19 p.m. employee signatures are now included on the staff’s posted letter).
As widely reported – and criticized — officials for the newspaper announced yesterday The Times would publish advertisements valued at about $75,000 – $80,000 for each campaign, as a way to show the effectiveness of such advertising. News side staff members said they were not involved in any discussions or decisions about publishing the ads.
The first advertisements for McKenna appeared in editions on Wednesday and today. A campaign finance report filed by the newspaper late Wednesday indicated the newspaper intends to publish 21 days of ads for McKenna, valued at $75,750, until Election Day on Nov. 6.