A Slog tipper pointed out that Seattle Times reporter Lynn Thompson is the poster child of a political lobbying effort—literally. Thompson, who covers Seattle City Hall, appears on the front of a new University of Washington brochure that gives marching orders for the 2013 legislative session to "re-invest in public higher education" and "fully fund student financial aid." The brochure also encourages people to work with the University of Washington Alumni Association's political advocacy wing, UW Impact, which conducts grassroots lobbying that targets state lawmakers.
Personally, I think this is great. I support higher education funding, I agree with Lynn Thompson on this issue, and I don't think that reporters should be barred from engaging in the same type of advocacy that everyone else can.
But being the public face of an effort to pressure lawmakers might seem odd for a reporter at a newspaper that claims to produce "impartial reporting." I asked Thompson how her advocacy jibes with her role as an ostensibly neutral journalist. "It's a campaign to support public funding for higher education," she says. "I don't cover higher education."
And that's too bad. I wish she could cover higher education, because, as we know, the Seattle Times's political biases taint its news coverage all the time. I wish that they would just come out and admit it, dropping the pretense of objectivity that they don't actually posses. Right now the paper's editorial board's constantly brays about the need to cut taxes (which result in higher education cuts), so it would be nice to see their reporters take a different stance, backing the revenues necessary to fund higher education, too.