Media

Media

On April 7, public KCTS-TV announced a reprieve from fiscal distress, saying it had received a $7 million loan from “a longtime friend and supporter of the station who at this time wishes to remain anonymous.” The money will be used to pay off and consolidate debt, including dues for PBS. The right of a nonprofit to keep a donor anonymous is well established, but as a matter of principle, KCTS is a special case. It is publicly supported by tax-deductible donations, gets some money indirectly from taxpayers, broadcasts over the public airwaves, and in many ways helps set the national and local public agenda. It’s not too much to expect a public media outlet to make its finances transparent, especially a media outlet that has a recent history of misappropriating large donations. More troubling is the unknown extent to which such a donor or lender—and the leading candidates we all know well—might have business before the public that could be influenced by media coverage, or lack of it. As long as we don’t know who the source of that loan is, KCTS has a credibility gap that transcends its reputation for bookkeeping. CHUCK TAYLOR

Contrary to a recent report that had journalists’ tongues wagging across the country, Michael Kinsley still works at Slate magazine, according to publisher Cyrus Krohn. Last week, citing inside sources, the New York Post reported that Seattle’s most famous journalist had ended his affiliation with the online magazine he founded. “It’s not true,” says Krohn, adding of Post writer Keith Kelly, “I don’t know where he got that.” Probably from the fact that Kinsley is on a three-month sabbatical, a perk of employer Microsoft after eight years of service. NINA SHAPIRO

Last week’s King County Superior Court verdict that the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center was not liable in the deaths of four patients in an experimental cancer treatment trial in the 1980s looked to many like a repudiation of the Seattle Times‘ “Uninformed Consent” series. But that’s not exactly right. The 2001 investigative articles alleged that the Hutch had not properly informed patients of the risks of such a trial and that doctors had conflicts of interest because of their involvement with companies making the drugs. More than a dozen patients died. The series was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2002. The court jury ruled that patients had given informed consent, and that the Hutch had given them enough information to do so. (The Hutch was found negligent in the death of a fifth plaintiff, but not as a result of uninformed consent.) Did the Times get it wrong? Bill Leedom, an attorney for the Hutch, says yes. “They ought to print a retraction, but they won’t do it because they are the Times.” Not so fast, says David Boardman, managing editor of the paper, who edited the series. “This was a trial about a very specific set of facts concerning five plaintiffs on specified points of law. It was not a trial of our journalism as much as The Wall Street Journal would like it to be.” The Journal attacked the series in a 2002 opinion piece that might have spoiled the Pulitzer chances for Times reporters Duff Wilson and David Heath. “We see no need to retract anything,” says Boardman. “We stand proudly by the story.” The plaintiffs have 30 days to file an appeal. PHILIP DAWDY


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