WNC "Toasts" Governors at 4th Annual Gridiron West Dinner

Five former governors of Washington State -- Al Rosellini, Dan Evans, John Spellman, Booth Gardner and Mike Lowry -- were "toasted" at the Washington News Council's 4th annual Gridiron West Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2002. 

The event was a huge success and kudos are pouring in from those who attended. Gov. Gary Locke and his wife, Mona, also participated in the gala event at the WestCoast Grand Hotel in downtown Seattle. About 450 people came to the dinner, which has become a not-to-be-missed evening featuring tributes, comedy and songs.

Mike Egan, of Microsoft's Government Affairs team, emceed. Song parodies from "The Sound of Music" were sung by David and Lisa Koch of Cabaret Productions, with Bruce Hurlbut on the piano. Songs included "The Sound of Schmoozing," "You Are 92, Going on 22" (for Rosellini), "The Friendly Governor" (for Lowry), "Dough Re Mee" (for all the governors), "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Tim Eyman?" For lyrics,click here.

Journalist/politician teams "toasting" the governors were: (Rosellini) Adele Ferguson, longtime statewide columnist and Sid Snyder, State Senate Majority Leader; (Evans) Joel Connelly, political writer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Ralph Munro, former Secretary of State; (Spellman) Slade Gorton, former U.S. Senator, and John Carlson, KVI radio talk-show host; (Gardner) Joni Balter, Seattle Times editorial writer and Norm Rice, former Mayor of Seattle; and (Lowry) Shelby Scates, former Seattle Post-Intelligencer political reporter, and Sam Reed, current Secretary of State. The governors all had a chance to respond to their "toasters" -- and did so, with gusto! Some of the toasters even toasted each other -- such as Ralph Munro's reading of a hypothetical story by Joel Connelly. Click here.

The dinner was an all-Washington menu, with salad, entree and dessert featuring state food products. Washington wines were provided by Chateau Ste. Michelle, Stimson Lane Wineries. A wide range of guests from politics, media, government, business, foundations and academia attended again this year.

Table sponsors included: At the "Gubernatorial" ($5,000) level: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, King County Journal Newspapers, PEMCO, Microsoft, and Northern Trust Bank. (Northern Trust also generously hosted a private reception before the dinner.) At the "Judicial" ($2,500) level: The Boeing Company, The Gallatin Group, Puget Sound Energy, Sandy Schoolfield & John Kechejian, and Weyerhaeuser. At the "Legislative" ($1,000) level: The Benaroya Company, Carney Badley Spellman, Dan Evans Alumni, Gorton Legacy Group, Merriman Capital Management, Moore Ink., Premera Blue Cross, Republican Radio, Bill & Jill Ruckelshaus, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, State Farm Insurance, Wes Uhlman & Associates, University of Washington, Washington Agriculture Legal Foundation, Washington State Farm Bureau, Washington State Grange, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, Washington State University, and The Weiss Company.

The News Council thanks all of our table sponsors for your generous support! Proceeds from the event benefit the educational programs of the WNC, including public forums and the Dick Larsen Scholarship fund.

The News Council also wants to thank David Horsey, cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who did the marvelous drawing of the former governors for our invitation and program. The P-I also generously provided 500 reprints of a Sunday "Focus" section package on the former governors that were given to all guests.

Eastside Journal and its Publisher, Peter Horvitz, kindly ran two free advertisements about the Gridiron West Dinner the week before the event. Vintage photos of the former governors came from the files of The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer collection at the Museum of History and Industry. HistoryLink.org also provided photos. Finally, the Gathering of the Governors and its founder, Caroline Holmes, provided invaluable assistance and advice.

Past Gridiron West dinners have "toasted" prominent journalists including local television anchors Jean Enersen, Kathi Goertzen and Susan Hutchison (2001); veteran columnist Emmett Watson (2000); and political reporters Dick Larsen, Adele Ferguson, Mike Layton and Shelby Scates (1999).

The event was televised statewide by TVW. Please check www.tvw.org for rebroadcast schedule or information on how to view the archives or order a videotape.

NOTE: If you're not on our mailing list and would like to receive an invitation to next year's event, please send your mailing address to mailto:info@wanewscouncil.org or call our office at 206-262-9793.

Jim Lehrer endorses WNC.
The host of the popular PBS program "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" strongly endorsed the Washington News Council at a Seattle luncheon hosted by KCTS-TV at the Harbor Club on Oct. 2. Asked what he thought of news councils in general and the WNC in particular, Lehrer
said: "It's a great idea. I fully support what you're doing."

Lehrer said news councils can help the profession of journalism. He noted that journalists criticize what everybody else does, but when someone criticizes them they object. "That's hypocritical," he declared.

"I don't know what journalists are afraid of," he added. He said many journalists hide behind the First Amendment and say no one can criticize their work. "That's nonsense. That's not what the First Amendment says."

Lehrer said he supported news councils on one condition: That they don't have any enforcement powers. "They shouldn't be able to order the media to do anything. But to hold the media up to public discussion and hold them
accountable is fine. That's healthy."

He said that public exposure and feedback are good for journalism and journalists should welcome that. "They are free to report the results of a Council decision, say they disagree with it and stand by their story. That's fine."

"The media may not like news councils, but they should be more willing to admit mistakes, make corrections and explain themselves," Lehrer concluded. "That's where a news council like yours can help. I strongly support what
you're doing."

Five New Members Named to WNC

For photos, click HERE.

The Washington News Council has added five new members. They are:
    Suzie Burke (Public Member), President and Owner, Fremont Dock Company.
    John Dimitriou (Public Member), Owner/Operator, Jazz Alley.
    Carver Gayton (Public Member), former Commissioner, Washington StateEmployment Security Department.
    Cyrus Krohn (Media Member), Publisher, Slate.com.
    Ted Van Dyk (Media Member), Columnist, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
For a full list of Council members and their biographies, click

Luncheon Held to Honor Dick Larsen Scholarship winners

This year's Dick Larsen Scholarship winners were honored at a WNC luncheon on June 28: Steven Freiderich, a junior at the University of Washington, and Sarah McGuire, who will be a freshman at Washington State University this fall. Each was awarded a $2,000 scholarship by the Council in May. The scholarship was created in 1999 to honor the career of Dick Larsen, longtime political writer, editor and columnist for The Seattle Times who was known for fair, accurate and balanced reporting. Larsen also worked in politics and public relations. He died in April 2001. Attending the luncheon were Deanie Larsen, his widow, and Grant Larsen, his son, along with several members of the Washington News Council. Freiderich's editors at the Puyallup Herald, where he works part-time, and McGuire's parents also attended the luncheon at the Pyramid Alehouse in Seattle.

Tickets to Gridiron West Dinner Given Away at Muni League Lunch

Two tickets to the WNC's 4th Annual Gridiron West Dinner were presented as door prizes at the Municipal League's annual Civic Awards luncheon on June 21. The News Council donated the tickets to the Muni League. More than 500 people attended the luncheon at the Westin Hotel in Seattle, including WNC President Eddie Reed and Executive Director John Hamer.

WNC Co-Presents CityClub Forum on Talk Radio

The News Council was a co-presenter of a CityClub forum on "Talk Radio: Who Are These Guys?" at Town Hall Seattle on June 7. The panel included John Carlson of KVI, Dave Ross of KIRO and Steve Scher of KUOW, and was moderated by Joni Balter of The Seattle Times. About 100 people attended the panel discussion, including WNC members Herb Robinson and Mike Poulson, and Executive Director John Hamer.

WNC Presentation to Green River CC Journalism Students

John Hamer spoke to three journalism classes at Green River Community College on June 5. This is the third year in a row that Journalism Professor John Knowlton has invited the News Council to make presentations to his mass-media and media-ethics classes. Hamer explained how the News Council works and answered questions from students.

Des Moines Rotary Club Learns About News Council

John Hamer spoke to the Des Moines Rotary Club on May 29. About 50 people attended the luncheon event. Hamer explained how the News Council began, how it operates, and answered questions from club members.

April a Busy Month for Washington News Council

April was an extremely busy month for the News Council. On April 9, we co-presented a CityClub Luncheon with Daniel Schorr, National Public Radio commentator, at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel. Several Council members attended the luncheon and a private reception. On April 10, John Hamer flew to Pullman for the Edward R. Murrow Symposium at the Murrow School of Communication, Washington State University, where Schorr received the Murrow Award at a dinner. Hamer met with WNC Member John Irby, Journalism Professor at WSU, and with members of the Murrow School Advisory Council. He also hosted a WNC information table during the symposium. On April 11, a Student Mock News Council Hearing was arranged by John Irby. His class considered a hypothetical complaint against KCPQ-TV (Channel 13), which in November 2000 broadcast a report that suggested drug and alcohol abuse was rampant at WSU. Former Spokane Spokesman-Review Editor Chris Peck moderated the hearing. The students upheld the "complaint" by a unanimous vote.

Students in Prof. Tomas Guillen's journalism class at Seattle University on April 17 considered the case of Hubert Locke vs. The Seattle Times, which was adjudicated by the WNC last October (see Complaints Resolutions page for details). One student played the role of Locke and another played Mike Fancher, Times executive editor. They based their arguments on the actual letters between Locke and Fancher, which are part of the official WNC case file. The student panel denied the complaint by a 4-2 vote, which was the same conclusion reached by the full Council last year. About 30 students observed the hearing, which was moderated by John Hamer, WNC executive director.

On April 29, John Hamer spoke to WNC member Cliff Rowe's media-ethics class at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. The next day, Rowe held a Student Mock News Council Hearing in his class. As a result of these visits, several students applied to be summer interns at the News Council, and two were ultimately chosen: Sally Scott of WSU and Hazen Hyland of PLU.

"Media Coverage of the War on Terrorism: Is It Accurate, Balanced, and Fair?"

 That was the topic of a Public Forum on Feb. 25 co-presented by the Washington News Council with the World Affairs Council (WAC). An experienced panel of journalists discussed the role of the news media and how journalists responded to the events of September 11. The panel included Enrique Cerna of KCTS-9, Jim Mallery of The Seattle Times, Dave Ross of KIRO radio, and Joshua Trujillo of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. John Hamer, Executive Director of the Washington News Council, was moderator. The event was filmed by TVW and a videotape is available. Call 206-262-9793 for details. In addition, the WNC and WAC jointly produced a 45-page curriculum guide for high schools, "Teaching Media Literacy Through the Topic of Terrorism." For copies, call 206-441-5910.

WNC Annual Meeting Held in Seattle

The News Council's Annual Meeting was held on Feb. 23 at the Pyramid Alehouse in Seattle, downstairs from the WNC's office. A quorum was present, and the following officers were elected: President - Eddie Reed; Vice President - Herb Robinson; Treasurer - Walt Howe; Secretary - Sue Frause. The Council discussed a wide range of business items and program activities. Glenn Drosendahl, Reader Representative at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, joined us to talk about his new job and to answer questions from WNC members from 11 to noon.

Mock Student Hearing Held at Everett CC

A Student Mock News Council Hearing was held on Jan. 25 at Everett Community College. Journalism Professor Mert Marrs' class considered the case of "Hubert Locke vs. The Seattle Times," which was adjudicated by the News Council in October 2001. Marrs represented The Times and Cliff Rowe represented Locke. The student panel denied the complaint, John Hamer, WNC executive director, and Marisa Dorazio, WNC spring intern, also attended.