‘Seattle Times’ Spending $80,000 To Support Marriage Equality

SeattleTimesThe Seattle Times' publishing side, hoping to boost revenue for the struggling paper, decided recently it would become more involved in campaign matters.

To that end, they ran an ad this week endorsing GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, an independent-expenditure that cost them about $80,000.

Now the paper is reportedly prepping to spend the same amount on an ad pushing for the passage of Referendum 74, a ballot initiative that would legalize marriage equality in the Evergreen State:

The decision to run the ad was made by the corporate side of the newspaper and was “completely separate from the journalism functions of the newspaper,” said Alan Fisco, executive vice president, revenue and new products, for The Seattle Times.

The company intends to run a similar campaign in support of Referendum 74, to legalize same-sex marriage, Fisco said in a news release.

Fisco described both efforts as a Seattle Times pilot project to show the power of newspaper political advertising and to attract new revenue for the newspaper. “We decided to try to tap into this important source of advertising revenue by demonstrating how effective advertising with The Times can be,” he said.

Fisco added that the company will analyze the effectiveness of the ad campaigns and present the results to political consultants and campaigns to convince them to advertise more in the newspaper.

Executive editor David Boardman insists he and his fellow reporters had nothing to do with the decision, nor do they have anything to do with the paper's other pro-gay efforts, but critics say the business side's decision taints their work anyway.

Roy Peter Clark from the journalism group Poynter Institute, remarked, “It’s not the newspaper’s problem, it’s not the publisher’s problem, it’s not even the readers’ problem, it’s the problem of the reporters who are covering these issues and these candidates… Their credibility is at stake.”


  1. jamal49 says

    Well, there went my argument that there really isn’t any such thing as “liberal bias” in the news media.

  2. Bob says

    An ad that is prepared in house and is run in blank space that the newspaper already had costs nothing, except that it makes the paper look biased.

  3. says

    To the confused commenters…. I think the “independent expenditure” refers to the fact that it’s a political expenditure. Whether the newspaper charges itself $80k over the ad or not, it’s still an $80k “independent expenditure” in terms of campaign finance.

  4. steve says

    Ryan is right. The ad is viewed as revenue, and it must pay tax on that revenue as it would other revenue. “puffing up” revenue numbers doesn’t make sense, as suggested by Anastasia. The higher the quoted cost, the more they pay in tax. Additionally, media outlets have guidelines for what they must charge to candidates and to pac advertisers. Just because we think ad space exists and doesn’t cost anything doesn’t mean its true.