Seattle Times Fights Back
My take on this issue of whether the Times held this story back - I think it's possible. I say that because of the issues that Charlie has raised, namely, that embedded in the Times' story of the internal auditor's resignation were many possible questions about Silas Potter.
That they were trying to get their facts right is good and admirable but it certainly took them a longer time than I might of thought given their resources. I'm a just one person, a citizen journalist so it is harder for me to press people I call for information. (However, that doesn't stop me from calling. Hey, I just left Fred Stephens a message to give me a ring. I won't hold my breath but it never hurts to ask.)
Here is my take on the issue of a conspiracy at the Times to cover the district and in particular, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. Do I think the Times and the Alliance and Stand and the district all sat down in a room and said, "Here's what each of needs to do to move forward what we believe is best for public education in Seattle." No, I don't think that ever happened. I don't think even two of those groups got together in a room and said that.
They didn't need to. Look, the Times (and every newspaper) has a fairly defined POV. When this was a two-newspaper town, you knew what you were getting in the Times and in the PI. I give the Times credit for moderating their tone on some positions. But yes, I think there is a unacknowledged mind-set among those groups about "how things should be". No black helicopters, just that easy sense of being in the same club that controls the admissions door.
People with power tend to think they got there because of some greater sense of reasoning from their knowledge base (or money base). It's the Smartest Guy in the Room syndrome that seems to permeate our public discourse.
Nobody knows everything. Not me, not Charlie, not the Times. No one. We can all talk about serious issues and do it soberly because we are now talking about the very district that 47,000 children depend on for their education. But, no one should take his or herself too seriously. That where you fall into the smartest guy trap.
Was Charlie being sanctimonious to the Times? Maybe. Charlie himself admits that sometimes he just can't stop himself from saying things that maybe he shouldn't say outloud (or in print). But the Times has (and they know it) a greater responsibility to get it right. They have a public responsibility to get news out in a timely manner.
We will see as we go forward what the reporting, from all directions, looks like.
One last thing to Mr. Boardman - I appreciate that you recognize my efforts but at least give this blog the credit for being the first with the start of this story.
Start of e-mails from David Boardman
Dear Ms. X,
Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful note. I will admit that I have been amazed at and frustrated by some of the commentary accusing us of sitting on the story to fulfill some political agenda. I’m waiting next to hear the sound of the black helicopters overhead.
I can assure you that no such agenda exists as far as our news staff is concerned. It may be difficult to believe in the age of Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann, but the news and editorial functions at The Seattle Times are entirely separate, with a virtual iron curtain between us in terms of what we report and when. It is quite common, in fact, for the findings in a news story to appear counter to a position our editorial page has taken.
We published this story as soon as we felt we had enough facts and verification to do so. Even on her own blog, Ms. Westbrook admitted that she had been trying to “ferret out the whole story” before we broke it.
That all said, I respect the passion and commitment of Ms. Westbrook and others, and we do recognize they bring valuable knowledge and background to this issue. I assure you we will monitor what they are doing as we continue our own dogged pursuit of this story.