Not To Put Too Fine a Point On It But...


Re: the Seattle Times. I did exchange e-mails with a member of the Editorial Board.  That person maintains that those "ads" are not part of their editorial thought.

However, when media entities do not explain relationships between those they support and information they provide - including ads that include that entity - then it's bound to cause confusion.   The Times has a direct relationship with the Education Research Institute and that would seem to indicate they support the tone and purpose of ERI's work which, currently, looks like a full-time job attacking Seattle Public Schools.  To what end?  Why not other districts like Kent or Highline?

I maintain that the Times truly does want the GOP spending plan, which includes funding McCleary.  It's hard to not believe that given the sources they cite in their policy and research reporting on public education.

Re: KUOW.  I did exchange e-mails with an editor there.

To note, they did update their Local Wonder piece on philanthropy to include that the submitter of the question, Anne Martens, works for the Gates Foundation.  Then, they clarified it even further saying,

As a communications officer at the Gates Foundation, Local Wonder listener Anne Martens knows a lot about philanthropy but she wanted to know more about the role giving has played in Seattle's past.

But, not mention that the Gates Foundation is a KUOW funder.

The editor did say:

It is our policy not to censor listener’s questions based on who they are or where they work. This is why we have this preliminary editorial process. We put the questions up to our listeners to decide which question they want us to cover.  Ms. Martens’ question went through the same vetting process as we use on all Local Wonder questions and listeners responded by voting “What is the role of philanthropy in Seattle?” as their top choice.

So attention all non-profits and businesses - need some free publicity for your group? KUOW will not censor any questions so submit away and you, too, might get on their Local Wonder series. 

And again I point out that during the voting period, KUOW never disclosed Ms. Martens works for the Gates Foundation.  I suspect that vote might have come out differently if they had.

end of update

I recently had this thread, Hey Big Spenders, about the Gates Foundation's largess to Seattle Schools in the amount of $225 while they gave over $2M to a Schoolzilla, a K-12 data platform.

I also reported on how the Local Wonder series at KUOW, about Seattle-based items of interest based on reader questions, had a question about the history of philanthropy in Seattle. from "listener" Anne Martens who is the Senior Communications Officer, Community & Civic Engagement for the Gates Foundation.

I had this question from that thread:

My question is - did KUOW know who she is before they created a report to answer the question?

Well, here's the answer but oddly, not from KUOW, but from Ms. Martens. (I guess she does PR for them now.)

She was the one who went to KUOW and "we talked about the question in advance" and "we decided" it was "simply posing the question and leaving it up to listeners to vote on."

And they did.

Except for:

1) Listeners didn't know an official from the Gates Foundation submitted the question. Have to wonder how they would have voted if KUOW had been honest?

2) Whether the KUOW reporters "independently" wrote it/edited it, does not make it "appropriate." Because any time you have a funder for a radio station be the one to work with staff for content, that's not really "appropriate."

3) Ms. Martens, in working with KUOW, knew that the question would circle to the Gates Foundation, thus giving them more standing, more attention, etc.

I found that last statement - about charter schools and the vote - amusing.

Ms. Martens seems to have forgotten that Seattle, itself, did NOT vote for charter schools just as Seattle, itself, didn't know what they were voting on when they took the vote for the Local Wonder question from Ms. Martens.

I hope my readers are seeing this disturbing trail from the Gates Foundation to KUOW and to the Seattle Times and to ed reformers. Kind of like a NW snail slime trail - something to avoid.

Last one standing said...
Hi Melissa, it's Anne Martens with the Gates Foundation, and KUOW does know where I work and we talked about the question in advance and whether it was ok to pose the question. We both decided that because we were simply posing the question and leaving it up to the listeners to vote on whether it was worth answering, as well as up to KUOW reporters to independently answer it, it was editorially independent and appropriate. The question is interesting and worth considering because of the many philanthropic endeavors here, and much of the story focused on Bagley Wright and the Pacific Northwest Ballet (do you hate them too?). Local Wonder chooses their questions based on a vote of the people (much like the public charter schools initiative) and that question won based on votes. Thanks for listening!


Anonymous said…
I heard the original broadcast and wondered at the time why a Microsoft identified ballet supporter was so heavily featured. Now I know. Thank you for daylighting this. It was entirely disingenuous of KUOW to present this story as listener driven when it was just a plug for the Gates Foundation and Microsoft. Not acceptable at all when you are an institution that relies on the public's trust.

For progress
Steve said…
Thanks Melissa...
Ugh said…
Really disappointed that KUOW would barter their integrity like this. Not sure Martens did them any favors by confirming that the Gates Foundation initiated this thing.
KUOW made a significant error in not disclosing that Anne Martens works for the Gates Foundation. Such disclosure is routine in journalism and I do not know why it wasn't disclosed here.
And weird that she clarified and not KUOW (who I did contact before I published and no one answered).
Steph said…
Thank you, Melissa.

You truly are a gem and there are very few things in this world that would make me not read your articles on a daily basis.
Anonymous said…
Honestly, I was fine with her response until the "do you hate them too?" comment. That's pretty snarky and unprofessional. It was disingenuous of KUOW to present her as just any old listener with a question, but the way she veered into snide contempt in her explanation of the situation is almost worse. I don't hate the Gates Foundation (they have done a tremendous amount for global healthcare), but it's disheartening that any kind of inquiry or skepticism about motives is met with defensiveness and derision. But I guess that's where we are in our culture today.

Anonymous said…
"Much like the public charter school initiative"?? Is she kidding with this? Yes, totally I hate PNB. They have been relentless in pushing their corporate ballet based testing regime on public dance school students, just like the education arm of the Gates Foundation. Honestly the snark at the end makes me reread the beginning, which I hadn't exactly noticed but now see as the mean girl, "well, me and my friends at KUOW decided it was ok, because we are friends, and I know all about this, and you aren't and you don't" posturing that it is.

She is a communications professional? Probably supposed to be a good one, if she got this job? Gross.

Anonymous said…
This is kind of off-topic, but I'd be interested in hearing what the deal is with the PNB, if anyone cares to share. What exactly is a "corporate ballet based testing regime" and how does it affect public dance school students?

There may well be something to be critical about regarding PNB, but it always makes me a little sad when arts organizations get hammered in this day and age, in which they're already receiving such a hammering under the current administration. Sometimes arts organizations need to make a deal with the devil to survive, so just wondering if it's that kind of thing.

-arts lover
Anonymous said…
Hey KUOW, here's a tip: The person/organization posing the question should not also be the one to answer it.

Reach out
NESeattleMom said…
Arts Lover,
I think that Sleeper was being sarcastic about PNB. I love PNB. I love their outreach. Sleeper (I think) was trying to make the same correlation that Martens mad,e and somehow correlate that to education reform, which the Gates Foundation has been behind, as well as other big corporations that are hiding behind things like the Seattle Times Gates-funded Education columns. I think if you didn't see the sarcasm it would be hard to understand. I love PNB, and am thankful for philanthropic support.
Anonymous said…
I was kidding. Of course no one hates PNB, and there is no ballet testing regime. Ms. Marten is implying the Gates Foundation and PNB are the same, just trying to do good in the world, and Melissa (and anyone who criticizes it) is just a crank who hates everything. In reality, PNB has a very focused mission and is just doing its arts focused thing. The Gates Foundation, on the other hand, tries to insert itself into broad areas of public policy and has a pernicious(or at the very least controversial) effect on public school students, so for that it obviously draws criticism, even while it engages in extremely laudable public health work.

NESeattleMom said…
Speaking of things I "hate", Local Wonder is an obnoxious program on KUOW, in my opinion. I like KUOW, but listening to an advertisement ad nauseum about what is at the bottom of Lake Washington or some other weird question repeated for a whole week makes me change the station. And, to find out it is a staged question posed by an employee makes me even more turned off to the whole concept. Martens response that she and KUOW "both" felt it was OK was weird wording. KUOW is not a person. There must have been either a team or a person who made the decision with Martens to use her posed question.
Anonymous said…
KUOW ? who cares because it's all propaganda I think you're just mad because the propaganda doesn't match your agenda.

End PC
I put this up at KUOW's Facebook page and, of course, they didn't put it up or respond. Boy, you have to wonder where it will all end.

PC, not about my agenda; it's about having transparency and honesty in journalism.
Anonymous said…
And speaking of KUOW programming - have noticed there is substantial programming about sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. during family time - weekend afternoons, for example.

One program I found truly objectionable was with a celebrity chef laughing about being drunk and cooking and what fun that was. Or the program about how much wonderful, easy money a girl can make webcamming.

KUOW no more. Almost rather listen to FOX.

Just keep in mind that the Gates Foundation's endowment is quite literally the money that should have gone to public schools and other services - including the arts. Where did all the money go that should have paid for public education? The legislature gave it to Microsoft and Bill Gates in the form of tax cuts. Just imagine how many classrooms could have been built or renovated with the money spent on building their gleaming HQ.

We could solve the education funding crisis by closing those tax breaks and then nationalizing the Gates Foundation endowment. It's our schools' money and should not be sitting in the Gates Foundation's coffers, enabling their attack on public education.
Anonymous said…
Cruickshank...please...please move back to CA. The residents of Puget Sound appreciate every job MS has produced here. The UW and WSU appreciate every dollar in tuition MS employees have paid these state universities.

Bill Gates attempted to work with SPS many years back, but there were too many Silas Potter Jr's that kept getting in the way.

Trying to shame wealthy people into overly supporting public ed is ineffective and in my opinion immature.

Maybe if you calm down McGinn will bring you back into the fold for McSchwinn 2.0?

End PC

Flat Tax said…
I would not go so far as to nationalize any private entity. But I could support changes to the tax code that would eliminate tax deductions made to nonprofits and foundations. I wonder how many of these "philanthropic" creations would exist if we didn't give the founders and the donors tax deductions.

If someone wants to support something...why do they need a tax break?
The UC and CSU systems also appreciate every dollar that Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Larry Ellison, and the other tech titans of the Golden State dutifully pay in taxes to help fund the state's public education system. As WA has two of the richest men on the planet living here, they surely can pay what they owe in order to help our public schools.
"The UW and WSU appreciate every dollar in tuition MS employees have paid these state universities." I think UW and WSU appreciate EVERY dollar that every WA state resident has paid to those universities.

As for shaming wealthy people, Gates is trying to run the show. No shaming needed. That he thinks he can do it and get away with it is the shame. But he has so few wins on his public education side shows that he just isn't able to get it done.
Anonymous said…
@ End PC, I'm sure UW and WSU appreciate, even more, every dollar in tuition that residents from OUTSIDE of WA have paid to those universities. That would include students who come here and pay out-of-state tuition on top of the state income taxes their families also pay in their home states.

MS employees in WA with students at WA universities are getting their educations partially subsidized, so don't act like they're doing the public a service by going there.

fair share?
Anonymous said…
"Gates is trying to run the show" If SPS is a show then it has got to be in the horror genre.

Really, how you can sit there with a straight face and say Mr. Gates doesn't pay an enormous amount of taxes? Lets take a look at just one of his tax liabilities,

2017 1836 28,296,000 96,698,000 124,994,000 2,124,898

Just on this one property Mr. Gates pays over $2,000,000 in local taxes every year.

and the original construction fees and taxes were around $4 million.

In 18 years that single property has generated over 30 million in taxes, so how much have you contributed?

Your socialism is showing.

End PC
End PC, I did not mean SPS - I meant then entire public education system in the U.S.

I didn't say Gates doesn't pay taxes; does he pay his fair share? I doubt it.

And, I'm not the richest man (or even woman) in the world.

You like him, great. The rest of us don't have to nor kiss his feet.
Answer please said…
How much tax is a fair share?
That's All said…
The communication specialist for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation tried to pass herself off as a listener. I'm still laughing.
Anonymous said…
Really big-hearted spenders:

Beloved singer and songwriter John Legend has just helped to ensure that Seattle students won't go hungry while at school.

His quiet contribution of $5,000 towards a GoFundMe page raising money to pay off student lunch debt in the Seattle Public Schools district is being hailed as a grand gesture of compassion throughout Washington state. (more)

Anonymous said…
Amen EPC! The Gates - Microsoft haters are ridiculous. Sure, we can all agree that that KUOW shamefully misled listeners. But the Gates Foundation is not Microsoft. And neither is one person pretending to be a listener. Gates and Microsoft pay plenty of taxes and support philanthropy throughout the region. Without them, the regional would be a podunk sleepy hollow with precious little tax base for anything. We can all argue until we're blue in the face about how much tax someone else should pay. If not for Microsoft and the incredible wealth in Seattle due to it, and all tech ecosystem it originated, there would be no tax base to even consider spending.

Get Real
BUT the Gates Foundation is...the Gates Foundation. And I will challenge Gates on every public ed front because he has spent so much money with no real visible lasting outcomes.

He doesn't know what he is doing, doesn't really talk to parents and teachers and just keeps flailing around.

Of course, Microsoft has done a great deal for this region; that does not give him carte blanche to run public education in his vision.
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