Washington News Council Programs
- We hear complaints against news media organizations from individuals or organizations who believe they are the victims of false or unfair stories.
- We maintain an interactive website for citizens to discuss media performance and ethics, plus active Facebook and LinkedIn pages for open public discussions.
- We sponsor a "TAO of Journalism - Transparent, Accountable and Open" pledge and seal that journalists may post as a way of meeting high standards and earning public trust. This is spreading worldwide, especially among young journalists.
- We give scholarships every year to students of communications in Washington state colleges or universities, as a way of promoting excellence in future journalists.
- We have pages on our website where citizens can report media errors and have them addressed, and where they can nominate high-quality stories for public review and rating.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Our most recent success was handling two major complaints in 2012 -- one against KUOW 94.9 FM from the Vitae Foundation and one against KIRO7 TV from the Leschi School Community. The complaints concerned serious factual inaccuracies in broadcast stories. Each complaint led to a three-hour public hearing by the News Council at which the quality of the stories was examined in depth, followed by an open public vote of the Council's members. In each case, the complaints were upheld by near-unanimous votes.
Our current need is to replace the three-year $100,000 annual "challenge grant" from Bill Gates Sr. at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which ended in 2012. That means we need to raise a total of $100,000 from other donors in 2013 to sustain the WNC's vital services. Our phone keeps ringing with potential complaints, but funding is a challenge.