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I did, however, wind up in a booth with Pure at the Project Runway party. We got smashed together—in public. First time I'd ever had a drink with... that woman, Ms. Purinsky.

Posted by Dan Savage | October 20, 2006 3:24 PM

Well put, Erica. I think your position is both clear and correct. You're completely wrong about the viaduct, of course (!), but it's not unethical in the slightest to be wrong, or to be an advocate.

Posted by Fnarf | October 20, 2006 3:38 PM

What a load of hooey.

The more Erica splits ethical hairs, the higher the bullshit stacks.

To hang this entire issue on the narrow read of FINANCIAL interest in an issue or person is disengenous. (But I do love the artful attempt at arguing that the smallness of a newsroom's staff allows for a different standard of ethics.)

Of course, Erica seems to sense the weakness of her own arguments so she claims that if the relationship is not CONCEALED, well, then it's okay!

Not a single one of her arguments holds up to scrutiny.

Besides, the claim that the Stranger is accurate or factual in the same breath as "advocacy" is just crap. Stick with your claim that you advocate for your positions. Everyone knows you are selective about your use of facts and you omit or twist to make your arguments sound better. And since so much of what you Dan and Josh write is self promotional, it's not just to make you sound better it's to make YOU look better.

So ultimately, it's not about standards or ethics, because none exists. It's about Vanity and making little noises in an echo chamber.

Posted by Walter Lippman | October 20, 2006 3:47 PM

A couple things not fully disclosed that make the story juicier - Segal's 'relationship' with Bailee and that Bailee was the one who called Kerri Harrop a racist in Line Out. Harrop happens to be the marketing person for Miller High Life, a large advertiser in the Stranger.

The puff piece on Pure close to the election really seemed to cross the line. It goes beyond an endorsement and was not factual.

Posted by Frank | October 20, 2006 3:58 PM

i'm just trying to hold it together after reading Erica refer to herself as a "journalist"!!! how funny is that?

never let it be said that the stranger lets factiness get in the way of putting out a tabloid.

Posted by Santino | October 20, 2006 4:05 PM

Just a small bone to pick. Advocacy journalism goes back at least to HL Mencken.

Posted by Gitai | October 20, 2006 4:05 PM

Lippman, put down the fucking crack pipe. Of COURSE concealment plays into this. It's about deceiving the reader. If you're candid about your potential conflicts of interest, you're not deceiving the reader. That's why ECB and Josh's opinions are listed under their bylines. If Martin's real name and position in advertising had been made clear, lots of people would have wondered about the conflict of interest, but no one would have been deceived into thinking there was no conflict of interest. Dipshit.

Posted by Superfurry Animal | October 20, 2006 4:07 PM

Why are there so many people with such a low opinion of the Stranger and advocacy journalism reading the Stranger? I mean, do whatever you want, but it's a little confusing to me.

Posted by Noink | October 20, 2006 4:10 PM

Forgiven the spleen-venting:

There's something unforgivable, and really quite arrogant, about Editorial not even knowing the NAMES of the people who work in Advertising. It's also really quite horrible that anyone who works in the ad sales arm of The Stranger, or for that matter any newspaper, is instantly and permanently cut-off from ever writing or contributing content.

A fair assumption would be that Bailee Martin had interest and talent, and Dave Segal recognized this, but moving someone from Advertising (or Production, or Classifieds or wherever) is damn near impossible given how editorial departments work.

The Stranger is a million times better than other newspapers, to be sure--your masthead is always filled with new names of writers who've been given a chance to make a start--but honestly, you're all working together, and have to rely on each other. The backside of this story, which you're not talking about at all, is the division and isolation that's obviously happening inside your own house.

Posted by Boomer | October 20, 2006 4:14 PM
Posted by seattl98104 | October 20, 2006 4:15 PM

there was absolutely no division between Segal and the ad department

Posted by Frank | October 20, 2006 4:16 PM

Re-read my post. You missed the point. Yes, concealment is a relevant issue, but concealment and financial interest are not the universe of ethical concerns. It's pathetic to see the Stranger taking itself seriously.

Posted by Walter Lippman | October 20, 2006 4:18 PM

I agree w/Gitai, "advocacy journalism" has to go way back before the Village Voice. Jessica Mitford? The turn-of-the-century "muckrakers"? Emile Zola ("J'Accuse")?

Posted by David | October 20, 2006 4:20 PM

Uh, Boomer, the strict division between editorial and advertising is true of every publication in the country. It's a REQUIREMENT. To bemoan this "division and isolation" is ridiculous.

Posted by Fnarf | October 20, 2006 4:26 PM

I don't think it would have been that bad to write reviews about clubs that you were selling advertising to, but to do it under an assumed name is wrong in my opinion.

Posted by Suz | October 20, 2006 4:26 PM

Whoa, Frank, do tell. I must have missed this Martin calling Kerri Harrop a racist thing. And are Segal and Martin an item? Very juicy.

Posted by Lucy | October 20, 2006 4:30 PM

Now, can we talk about something else?

Well, we were... until you brought it back up. :/

Posted by Gomez | October 20, 2006 4:35 PM

1. miller high life is not a large advertiser with the stranger.

2. i am employed by a marketing company. i do not coordinate or pay for any advertising in my market, whether it be with the stranger, seattle weekly, or any other publication in seattle.

3. any attempt to taint the resignations of dave segal and bailee martin with salacious details is misguided and cheap. i think the stranger has been very clear about the reasons that such an unfortunate event had to happen. it is unfair to sully reputations of good people with speculation and malicious gossip.

advertising and editorial do not mix. period. hiding one's identity from one's employer to break such a rule is unacceptable. i don't think the stranger could have possibly been more clear about this fact.

it is unfortunate that two folks in our community are without jobs and that the stranger must continue to explain the very valid reasons that sparked such action. there seem to be a lot of folks still struggling with the basics of journalism 101, despite the very clear explanations that have been put forth both online and in print.

Posted by kerri harrop | October 20, 2006 5:17 PM

I don't know why objectivity is such a prized virtue in the press. Objectivity is why newspapers still refer to global warming as uncertain.

There used to be a better word for "advocacy journalism" and its practice goes back much further than the founding of the Villiage Voice: muckracking. It's why we went to war with Cuba, and why we have workers rights.

Posted by erostratus | October 20, 2006 5:21 PM

I was trying hard not to comment on this whole thing, but it's just so good to see Kerri back here I just had to write something. Agreed with all her points, and just a vote that The Stranger hire someone who like Segal and Maerz, can write about more than just indie rock. NOW can we please talk about something else. Jeesh already.

And PS, the argument about conflicts of interest is stupid. Say what you want about the Stranger writers, but I personally know a lot of them, and though I often disagree with them I also know they do care about avoiding conflicts and keeping to basic journalistic ethics. It's ignorant to claim otherwise. And if you hate them so much go read some other paper. Shit, the Stranger's style of writing is what makes it fun to read and influential.

Alright, I'm crawling back under my rock.

Posted by Meinert | October 20, 2006 5:28 PM

Yes, let's talk about something else. The "silliness" of The Stranger perhaps inflates the corruptness of politicians. I've rarely read it with that in mind.

The arts coverage, however, seems to be getting better all the time. If Charles could just refrain his writing to Police Beat, it might be top notch.

Posted by jonathan | October 20, 2006 5:43 PM

well put. can't get much more black&white then that.

Posted by phenics | October 20, 2006 5:47 PM

Fnarf, I'm not bemoaning the obviously necessary division of editorial and advertising; my issue is that quite often people in the advertising arena want, deserve, and have the talent to cross the gulf into content and find they simply cannot. I seriously doubt the intent of Martin and Segal was to fuck over The Stranger or undermine editorial integrity; she wanted to write, and he wanted to help her.

There should be absolutely no pride taken in the fact that the editorial staff of The Stranger didn't even know Bailee Martin's name--"the ad rep from upstairs" as Jen's note not-so-impressively put it. There's a lack of respect inherit in this whole discussion, and it really troubles me. The division between editorial and advertising may be necessary, but it's no excuse for the kind of passive contempt I'm hearing for someone who's mistake was wanting to contribute.

Posted by Boomer | October 20, 2006 7:04 PM

"...or undermine editorial integrity; she wanted to write, and he wanted to help her."

Oh, for the luv of cheese and rice, screw this "helping" alibi. Go get some leaf-loose Keynin, and begin your LieJournal.

Posted by advertise! | October 20, 2006 7:14 PM

Well, what other "alibi" do you suggest then? What's the motivation then?

Posted by Boomer | October 20, 2006 7:39 PM

I do not doubt that Segal wanted to help Martin, but I also don't see how that has any bearing on the fact that they both fucked up utterly. Good intentions or not, they both schemed and lied to do something they knew to be unacceptable

Posted by felix | October 20, 2006 9:24 PM

Boomer, the jump from some another department to editorial is not unprecedented at the Stranger, once the initial position is relinquished and if the writer has talent. Case in point: Angela Garbes, a Stranger sales staffer who left to take a position as an editor with a literary publisher. Once she landed in her new job, I learned of her interest in writing about food, and now she does.

Posted by David Schmader | October 20, 2006 9:24 PM

Well, when I asked if Sanders was on the Darcy Burner payroll, I was kidding. I didn't really think he was. But the relentless, fawning coverage seemed to deserve some kind of comment. And I'm someone who hopes she wins, so that the Republicans lose the House -- but other than that I don't really give a rat's ass about the Eastside, and it wasn't that long ago that the Stranger viciously mocked the suburbs!

Posted by cite | October 20, 2006 9:32 PM

FNARF -- if you do get a music writing gig at the Stranger, nobody can say you didn't deserve it! You're really put in your time kissing Stranger ass here on the Slog, man! I'll be looking out for your byline in the future...what is it, Steve something-or-other, right?

Posted by cite | October 20, 2006 9:36 PM

Wow, sometimes I leave my dainties on the line, just for kicks.

Posted by Cupie | October 20, 2006 11:02 PM





Posted by Jack | October 21, 2006 2:38 AM

So a person has to leave their advertising position at The Stranger and go somewhere else before their talent or desirability is finally recognized, and utilized? Doesn't that seem a little--well, gawd-a-mitey, I don't even know the word to describe it...

Arrogant? Elitist? Stupid? Well, you're the content providers, you think of a word for me, okay?

Posted by Boomer | October 21, 2006 3:11 PM

I think the word you're looking for is "standard," Boomer. The fact that's it's *inconvenient* for someone looking to make the jump from ad sales to writing staff doesn't make it stupid, arrogant or elitist. If Martin/Bowen wanted to write for The Stranger, she should have gotten her day job in another department or another company. It's pretty simple. If you're going to call something stupid, how about Dave Segal and Bailee Martin's asinine attempt to sidestep the rules?

Posted by felix | October 21, 2006 4:04 PM

Boomer writes: So a person has to leave their advertising position at The Stranger and go somewhere else before their talent or desirability is finally recognized, and utilized?

You seem to think that the only forum for "talent and desirability" is the editorial staff, and some might call your failure to consider the talent and desirability of driven, accomplished sales staffers "arrogant, elitist, and stupid."

Simply put, The Stranger couldn't function if its sales staff was filled with writers treading water until their "big editorial break" comes, and your inability to grasp this basic fact seems to suggest that you're a relative of Bailee Martin, retarded, or both.

Posted by David Schmader | October 21, 2006 4:51 PM

And PS, the argument about conflicts of interest is stupid. Say what you want about the Stranger writers, but I personally know a lot of them, and though I often disagree with them I also know they do care about avoiding conflicts and keeping to basic journalistic ethics. It's ignorant to claim otherwise.

I completely disagree re: keeping to ethics. And I don't appreciate the inferrence that pointing it out means I hate this paper. I like the Stranger despite all my railing on them at times like this (whereas I don't care for the Weekly, and see no real point in pointing out all their bullshit), and I do have a strong degree of respect for the likes of ECB and Feit and the work they do, but I also like to call a spade a spade despite it all.

Ethical objectivity in journalism involves reporting the fact AND not choosing a side before you have the facts, or choosing which facts you want to believe, especially choosing only the facts that support the side you're not supposed to be on. Just because the mainstream media does it to some extent (or in FOX's case, to a great extent) doesn't make such practice objective. There is a difference between journalism and lobbyism, and when it comes to pet issues, the paper ha a thing for falling on the lobbyist side,then calling it journalism, which is like shitting on our faces and calling it a sundae.

Posted by Gomez | October 21, 2006 5:27 PM

Boomer... as someone who's dabbled in journalism and advertising... one isn't supposed to go into the business end of media with an eventual goal of landing in the creative or journalistic side of it. You pretty much have to pick one or the other; ethical conflicts of interest as the one involving this paper preclude any lateral movement, unless you flat out quit your business job before applying for a writing job, or vice versa.

If Bailee wanted to write for the paper before she took the sales job, she probably shouldn't have taken the sales job with the Stranger. Unfortunate and hindsight is 20/20, but it's true.

Posted by Gomez | October 21, 2006 5:32 PM

David, are you talking about the "driven, accomplished sale staffers" whose names those of you in the Editorial Department don't even know?

I cannot defend Martin or Segal--they made incredibly dumb choices, and the result was proper and pretty much inevitable. And while I'm certainly well aware that there are people who live to sell ad space in weekly newspapers, I'd wager the vast majority of the people who take these jobs do so out of a basic love of the newspaper they're working for. They want to be a part of what the newspaper is.

I don't know Bailee, nor am I retarded--thanks for that, David, very sweet--but I can say this: if you worked a job where the people you respected and wanted to be like never even bothered to learn your name, maybe you'd make some bad choices, too.

Posted by Boomer | October 21, 2006 7:29 PM

"Never even bothered to your name"!!?

Such indecency!
It certainly sounds like Boomer knows which fork to use.

Posted by laurie | October 21, 2006 11:32 PM

if you worked a job where the people you respected and wanted to be like never even bothered to learn your name, maybe you'd make some bad choices, too.

Boomer, you're reaching. So far. First of all, Dan Savage is the only person identified as not knowing Bailee Martin's name and second, what the fuck? There are what, 70 people on the masthead and Dan Savage is required to know every single one of them? There's no argument to be had here.

Posted by george | October 21, 2006 11:48 PM

Do you realize you've contradicted yourself? You claim Martin had a conflict of interest between (1) greater ad sales, leading to personal financial gain and (2) objective journalism. But you say that The Stranger "has never presented our paper as a source of an 'unbiased,' 'objective' journalism." Interest (2) therefore disappears, leaving no conflict.

If your description of The Stranger's editorial-news mish-mash is accurate, it seems Martin and Segal's only error was breaking an arbitrary rule.

Posted by Jonah | October 22, 2006 5:11 AM

it seems Martin and Segal's only error was breaking an arbitrary rule.

Except it was anything but an "arbitrary" rule. As it has been explained several times, this separation is standard practice with news publications and Segal and Martin knew that and engaged in shady dealings to circumvent it. I agree with your other point though, I don't think anyone here is really selling me on the conflict of interest angle.

Posted by felix | October 22, 2006 10:43 AM

Gomez - what exactly are you on about? We all know The Stranger can be very biased, and that the writers do not function as reporters all the time, but are more often editorializing. This does not make a conflict of interest nor is it unethical. It's what the paper is about. There is a huge difference between editorializing and conflicts of interest. If you can't figure out the difference, go take a class and come back when you have something intelligent to contribute. You have made a ton of serious (not that anyone takes them seriously) accusations that seem to be nothing more than name calling that you are unable to back up. Repeating unsubstantiated claims does not make them carry any more weight. If you are going to keep posting, back up your claims. Otherwise, realize you're reading the Stranger. It's infotainment. Great fun mixed with serious opinions sometimes backed up by research, sometimes not, but always fun to read. The only thing Erica should be slammed for is reviving this thread.

Posted by Gomez | October 22, 2006 12:44 PM

Above post by me, not Gomez. Sorry about that.

Posted by Meinert | October 22, 2006 12:49 PM

Felix - The second point is a result of the the first. If The Stranger disclaims objectivity, the rule becomes arbitrary. Why prohibit financial interest if there is no countervailing interest in objective journalism?

Posted by Jonah | October 22, 2006 12:52 PM

Can you people really not see a difference between a writer editorializing about their opinion and a writer having that opinion influenced by advertisers?

Papers endorse candidates and policy all the time. They editorialize all the time. Companies have rules. Agree with them or not, but if you work for a company and intentionally break the rules repeatedly, well, guess what? You lose your freaking job.

This is like debating with 2 year olds.
jonah, Boomer, Gomez, etc. Segal was a good guy. Great writer. Respected nationally. But he fucked up. If you had a specific example this happening elsewhere at the Stranger with no results, you'd have a point to make, but you don't.

Again, a writer having an opinion is one thing. Basing that opinion on your ad sales breaks the bond of trust between a paper and it's readers. So there are rules about it. Get it?

Posted by Meinert | October 22, 2006 1:06 PM

Did everyone overlook this?

There is no evidence that Martin was a profiteer or even corruptible. In print and on the paper's music blog, she didn't reward bands or clubs that bought ads; nor did she punish those that didn't. (And as an assistant, she didn't work on commission.)

Posted by 11x11 | October 22, 2006 1:35 PM

My apology to all for my delusions of superior mind and experince in life.

I really want to be warden of a women's prison somewhere.

I have so much talent to offer and all I get is supidity all around me.

Posted by MEINERT | October 22, 2006 1:50 PM

Oh sorry - but I think one of my personalities got close to the truth.

Posted by Jac | October 22, 2006 1:52 PM

Meinert - I agree that a company has the right to fire employees that break the rules, arbitrary or not. I didn't suggest otherwise.

Your point about the "bond of trust between a paper and it's [sic] readers" only holds if the paper claims objectivity -- that is, if there is a basis for the readers' trust. If you accept Erica's claim of non-objectivity, then there is no such bond between reader and paper, and so, beyond breaking a rule, Martin and Segal committed no foul.

Of course, I don't accept Erica's claim. Like you, I think The Stranger should and does seek objectivity and therefore bears the burden of readers' trust. Like you said, The Stranger does have a duty to disclose its writers' material preferences. And given this duty, firing the two employees was the right thing to do.

My point was that Erica bungled the argument and contradicted herself. She can't support the firing based on violation of objectivity she claims not to exist.

Posted by Jonah | October 22, 2006 3:42 PM

Jonah, re-read what Erica wrote:

>>>This was a direct violation of the division between advertising and editorial—a divide that is necessary to ensure that editorial content is not tainted by FINANCIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST...Let me explain very clearly how it’s different. It’s different because I do not have an actual or potential financial interest in which viaduct option is chosen; Josh does not have a financial interest in Maria Cantwell’s success or failure; Eli is not on the payroll of the Darcy Burner campaign.

This matters. It matters because the Stranger has never presented our paper as a source of an “unbiased,” “objective” journalism. The Stranger belongs to a long tradition of “advocacy journalism,” a type of alternative journalism that goes back to the founding of the Village Voice. There is no explicit distinction between editorial and reporting staff at the Stranger; we have a four-person news department, unlike daily papers with their large (and separate) news and editorial staffs. We write journalism that is accurate and factual but which sometimes has a point of view (although that’s by no means always the case).

However, an opinion is not a conflict of interest. Not being “objective” is not a conflict of interest. Having a “bias” is not a conflict of interest.

YOU're claim that "...Your point about the "bond of trust between a paper and it's [sic] readers" only holds if the paper claims objectivity..." is not right. There is a big difference between a music writer writing their opinion and a writer writing a favorable show preview because of a financial relationship with an advertiser. The bond between the Stranger's writers and readers when it comes to recommending events is due not to journalistic "objectivity", but is definitely due in part to ensuring that the preview is not tainted by a "financial conflict of interest".

I don't understand how anyone is missing this. Advocacy journalism implies a bias and non-'objectivity'. And this is ok. It's NOT ok if this bias is paid for.

Posted by Meinert | October 22, 2006 5:18 PM

I don't understand how anyone is missing this. Advocacy journalism implies a bias and non-'objectivity'. And this is ok. It's NOT ok if this bias is paid for.

Oh my god, EXACTLY. I really don't get what's so fucking hard to understand about this. Jonah, Boomer and friends are being willfully obtuse.

Posted by tank | October 22, 2006 8:23 PM

Just a sidenote - why are people always so mean to each other on the Slog? It's like third grade again. Surely it's possible to make a point with civility. Grow up!

And now, back to the discussion...

Conflicts of interest! Boo yeah!

Posted by How old are you? | October 22, 2006 10:40 PM

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