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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Newsflash: Activism Isn’t Just for Smelly Hippies Anymore

posted by on August 16 at 0:26 AM

Seattle Times Executive Editor Dave Boardman sent out another e-mail addressing the newsroom cheer that greeted word of Karl Rove’s resignation.

You can read the whole thing at Editor & Publisher, but there’s one line in particular I found curious—especially given The Seattle Times claim on objectivity.

I’ve bolded the line in the excerpt below:

I ask you all to leave your personal politics at the front door for one simple reason: A good newsroom is a sacred and magical place in which we can and should test every assumption, challenge each other’s thinking, ask the fundamental questions those in power hope we will overlook.

If we wore our politics on our sleeves in here, I have no doubt that in this and in most other mainstream newsrooms in America, the majority of those sleeves would be of the same color: blue. Survey after survey over the years have demonstrated that most of the people who go into this business tend to vote Democratic, at least in national elections. That is not particularly surprising, given how people make career decisions and that social service and activism is a primary driver for many journalists.

Boardman’s assumption: Republicans aren’t drawn to activism or social service. How’s that dose objectivity strike you GOP readers out there?

Boardman is relying on some pretty out-of-date stereotypes. I hate to break it to him—maybe he hasn’t been paying attention to the tax slashing, anti-gay, pro-property rights, pro-intelligent design, pro-conscience clause, anti-abortion, anti-immigrant activism out there—but from initiative drives to legislation to legal efforts, GOP activists have been working overtime during the last decade. Successfully.

Activism isn’t just for smelly Democratic hippies anymore. Has Boardman never heard of the Minutemen Project or MayDay for Marriage or Focus on the Family or Tim Eyman?

As for social service. Why do you think President Bush pushed his faith-based initiative legislation? This was a bone to the hundreds of thousands in the GOP base who are committed to social service work through church-affiliated groups. Does Boardman have data that defines and quantifies social service as primarily Democratic-based work?

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Have you ever heard of how lame bold can be? Make your point and let your readers figure out what's important. Or go back to school.

Posted by Jumpsuit | August 15, 2007 10:42 PM

Oh, so you get it then? Well good, that's good.

You probably should talk to Mudede though, Jumpsuit. Have him explain narrative to you.

So, how about you just pull that ripchord then? We already know how your eager freefall into legalism ends otherwise.

Posted by Chambers McSween; Layman, Homie, Factotum, Trucker | August 15, 2007 11:11 PM

I'm sorry that I don't understand your completely self-referential idiom. Please take care not to choke on your own cream.

Posted by Jumpsuit | August 15, 2007 11:26 PM

Maybe he should try to remember to ... oh I don't know... maybe last year when his own editorial board was pushing so hard to get the estate tax repealed?

Posted by Mike of Renton | August 15, 2007 11:54 PM

Aw. Poor Minutemen. I sincerely hope that Boardman's rash comments won't send them into too much of a malaise. It'd be sad to think of them sulking at home instead of, say, shooting people. Maybe Focus on the Family will be too mopey to fight against civil rights, as well. Gosh darn that Boardman!

Posted by Joshua H | August 15, 2007 11:56 PM

Boardman probably meant social service work that was actually trying to help people.

Posted by daytrpr | August 16, 2007 5:46 AM

Thank GOD my boss doesn't send out boring, wordy emails like that one. At least no one has ever accused City Light of being "a sacred and magical place"

Posted by catalina vel-duray | August 16, 2007 6:23 AM

Jumpsuit: you're an idiot.

Posted by JessB | August 16, 2007 7:16 AM

Chortle. I have thought many things about the Seattle Times over the years, and "sacred and magical" was never on the list.

Posted by SDA in SEA | August 16, 2007 7:34 AM

jumpsuit- learning key phrases to bold is essential on-the-job skill training.

soon i'll have a pic to share of the bright scary view of my rock hauling yesterday. (un)fortunately, my card reader is giving me fitz of depression. TGIT, it is Miller Time.

Posted by Garrett | August 16, 2007 8:09 AM

@7 But the neon gas flame that used to be outside PSE on Mercer (not 100% positive on that location) was sacred and magical, for sure.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | August 16, 2007 8:11 AM

Who are you calling smelly hippies, Josh?

Posted by Larry Kramer and Martin Luther King | August 16, 2007 8:24 AM

Well, the things that rational, sane people would consider to be downright nasty, like destroying the environment as well as anyone who's non-heterosexual, non-white and/or non-Republican, are considered "good" by right-wing "activists."

Even the most horrible, evil people consider themselves heroes in their internal monologue.

Posted by Original Andrew | August 16, 2007 9:30 AM

Faith-based initiatives are a bone to moderates who still want government money spent on helping the needy and a bone to religious voters who want to see government money flowing into their church's coffers. So much for small government.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 16, 2007 9:52 AM

He's right. Republicants are drawn not by doing social good and activism, but by greed and fear.

It's all they have.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 16, 2007 11:02 AM

Perhaps Will. But that's an opinion. Boardman's not supposed to have those.

Posted by Josh Feit | August 16, 2007 11:09 AM

Well, that's your opinion.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 16, 2007 2:44 PM

To all of you enlightened and tolerant progressives who are posting at this site - I have never read such bigoted, small minded hate speech in my life.

Sounds like anyone who dares point out the truth about the Left leaning bias in new rooms is a sellout to the White Male, Heterosexual, Christian oppressors.

Guess if you are among the extreme 5% of the far Left, then the even the mostly moderate Leftists who run the news rooms across the country seem like Right-Wing Nazis.

Posted by Chris | August 17, 2007 2:00 AM

What's your response to Postman's assertion that you've doing a bad job on this?

Posted by Ron | August 18, 2007 10:27 AM

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