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Seattle Times editor wins SPJ ethics award



Chad Hosier, SPJ awards coordinator, (317) 920-4791, chosier@spj.org
Ellen Kobe, SPJ communications coordinator. (317) 920-4785, ekobe@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — David Boardman, executive editor and senior vice president of The Seattle Times, has received the Ethics in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for the manner in which he and his newsroom handled a controversial situation over political advertisements paid for by their own company.

In the 2012 election campaign, The Seattle Times Co. paid for newspaper ads on behalf of the Republican candidate for governor, Rob McKenna, and in favor of Referendum 74, a ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage. Executives on the business side of the company, who made the decision to sponsor the ads without involvement from Boardman and the newsroom, described it as an experiment to demonstrate the power of newspaper advertising.

Under Boardman’s direction, The Times’ News Department reported thoroughly and aggressively on the decision, even going so far as to publish a “truth squad” piece pointing the factual errors in the ads.

Additionally, Boardman authored a column explaining the newsroom’s independence from the ads and vowing to readers that reporting on the campaign would remain fair and impartial.

“Boardman’s courageous actions prevented most, if not all, of the damage that the ad could have done to the credibility and utility of The Times,” said John Michael Kittross, who nominated Boardman. “My hope is that recognition of this fact will encourage other editorial employees of news organizations to take an ethical stand if (or when) such a situation faces them. Our responsibility is to our readers — past, present and potential — and we must earn their trust in order to serve them. David Boardman did his part, and did it well.”

As a member of the company’s senior executive team, Boardman contributes to overall company operations, strategy and long-term planning of Washington state’s largest newspaper. Specifically, he is responsible for the news department and website. Under his leadership, The Times won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. In previous years, Boardman directed two other projects that won Pulitzers, and 10 stories that were Pulitzer finalists.

Before joining The Times in 1983, Boardman was a reporter and editor at several papers in the Northwest, and worked on a construction project in Liberia, West Africa. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and has a graduate degree from the University of Washington. He is president of the American Society of News Editors, and serves on several national boards, including the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Boardman was recently named the new dean of Temple University’s School of Media and Communication and is expected to begin his new duties Sept. 1.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information on SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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