Last month, The Seattle Times reassigned 27-year columnist Eric Lacitis to the paper's metro desk, where he has been writing news features. There was no real explanation by the paper or Lacitis, who wrote a farewell column on June 8, and many in the newsroom presume the move from his prominent place in the Northwest Life section was a demotion. How ironic, then, that Lacitis has received an award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, placing his work second-best among the nation's large daily newspapers. (First place went to a Wall Street Journal columnist.)
Are they practicing censorship over at the Washington News Council? That's what Helen Swenson, KIRO-TV news director, alleged last week. On June 14, the council found KIRO at fault in a complaint brought before it by the state's beef and dairy industries. They disputed stories last fall in which reporter Chris Halsne made accusations about the industry's introduction of so-called "downer" cattle into the food supply. The council found Halsne's work inaccurate and unfair and KIRO hit the ceiling, insisting that its reports were accurate and that the council was engaging in what Swenson termed "censorship." The findings of the nonprofit, unofficial council cannot compel KIRO to do anything. Still, the charge of censorship stung the council. Its chairman, former State Supreme Court Justice Robert Utter, and other council officials issued a statement, saying, "We have never seen a persuasive argument that a news council in any way threatens the right to a free press" and calling Swenson's censorship charge "unfounded." PHILIP DAWDY
Just because Hearst Corp. is paranoid about how its Seattle Post-Intelligencer is promoted or notby joint-operating-agreement overlord The Seattle Times doesn't mean the Times isn't out to get the P-I. Observed Tuesday, June 24, at First Avenue and Madison Street: a Times rack and a P-I rack, side by side as usual, but both displaying and containing that day's Times. (Note to Justice Department, which is investigating the papers in light of the Times' desire to cease publication and distribution of the P-I: Photo evidence available on request.) Of course, it's possible that some P-I person set this up, 100 feet from Seattle Weekly world headquarters, so we'd see it and write about it, thereby besmirching the Times. But that would be paranoid of us. CHUCK TAYLOR
Last week, the state GOP lost the only guy who was really going through the motions of mounting a serious challenge to Gov. Gary Locke in 2004King County Sheriff Dave Reichert. Reichert's stated reasons for bowing out: too many things to do in the sheriff's department. Odd for someone who had been traveling the state. Was Reichert getting out of the way of another bigger fish? The other two Republicans frequently mentioned as contenders are Western Wireless CEO John Stanton and state Sen. Dino Rossi of Issaquah. On Monday, Rossi remained firmly on the fence. Stanton friend and business associate Bob Ratliffe says he has been picking up little signs that Stanton might be interested. State Rep. Fred Jarrett, R-Mercer Island, explains why the GOP is having such trouble fielding a candidate: "Gary is the best Republican governor we've had in a quarter of a century!" (See Mossback, p. 9.) GEORGE HOWLAND JR.