Via Jim Brunner:

Frank Blethen
The Seattle Times

Dear Frank,

We write to express our frustration that The Seattle Times Co. is publishing advertisements endorsing one of the state's two candidates for governor, as well as a statewide referendum campaign.

We reporters, photographers, editors, columnists, producers and artists work every day to carry out this newspaper's mission to communicate the news to the Northwest in as fair and objective a manner as possible. We are proud of our stewardship role and your continuous support over the years, despite significant financial burdens.

That is why the decision to publish these ads is so disappointing. It threatens the two things we value the most, the traits that make The Seattle Times a strong brand: Our independence and credibility.

We know you value those things, too. The Seattle Times Company has done an exemplary job providing value to advertisers while also practicing independent journalism.

The company has explained this decision as a creative attempt to grow revenue during the political ad season. In this economic environment initiatives for more revenue are welcomed.

But consider its effect on The Seattle Times' core mission, journalism.

We strive to remain independent from the institutions we cover. We shine a light on the process from the outside. We are not part of the process.

This ad campaign threatens to compromise that integrity. By sponsoring an ad for one gubernatorial candidate, The Seattle Times—the entire company—has become one of the top contributors in support of that candidate's campaign. We are now part of a campaign's machinery, creating a perception that we are not an independent watchdog.

The publication of the first ad came one day after The Seattle Times showed its commitment to old-fashioned independent journalism by sponsoring a debate between the two candidates, moderated in part by one of our political reporters. During that debate, both candidates pointed to stories or editorials written by our staff to support their points. To the candidates and the viewing public, we weren't part of one campaign or another. We were the arbiters, a trusted, third-party source of information. That is core to our identity.

The ads undermine the work we do and threaten to muddy that perception with the readers who rely on us.