Alex Goldman is a producer for On the Media. One time he got run over by a car.
Cancelling Seattle Times Subscriptions in "Protest"
Friday, November 09, 2012 - 11:30 AM
UPDATE: Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna has conceded Washington's governor's race.
Last week, Bob spoke to Eli Sanders of The Stranger about the Seattle Times advertising on behalf of political campaigns.
This week, we received a letter from a Seattle Times subscriber and OTM listener named Diane Civic, which read:
I called today to cancel my [subscription] because of this ad and was told that a lot of people were calling and I could instead put my subscription on a "protest hold" which would send a message to the Ad Dept and editorial board about the impact of the ad. The Customer Service Dept did not appear to be happy about the decision. Might be interesting to investigate how many "protest holds" there were and the response of the editorial board.
There actually was some discussion of this in our interview with Sanders, that didn't make it to air. Here's a transcript of what he had to say about "protest holds."
ELI SANDERS: I’ve had people come to me and say “Should I do this, should I not do this? I don’t know whether I want to hurt the news gathering staff, but I do want to send a message to the publisher.” And actually, the Seattle Times themselves seem to have picked up on this ambivalence out there, and they’ve been offering – we’ve heard – something called a protest cancellation. So you can call up the Seattle Times and say “I’m furious about this, I’m cancelling my subscription,” and they’ll say “OK. Hang on. How about you just do this protest cancellation. It’s for two weeks until the election. You’ll lodge your complaint, we’ll hear your protest, and then you’re back with us.” Symbolic cancellation. When you’re in the position of having to do that as a newspaper, it’s not good.
I e-mailed Jill Mackie, VP of public affairs for The Seattle Times to ask her if the paper plans to continue these kinds of ad buys, and whether the Seattle Times had seen many people take up the offer of "protest holds." "This was a pilot program and there are no plans for repeating it in the future," says Mackie about the ad program. "A significant number of subscribers who contacted us with concerns about the pilot program opted for the protest stop to make their feelings clear but continue to receive The Seattle Times once the election was over. With the election just ended it is too soon to determine if there were any long term impacts on our subscriber base."
As for the candidate and referendum endorsed by the Seattle Times ads? Referendum 74, which legalizes gay marriage in the state, passed with 52% of voters in favor of legalization. Rob McKenna, the Republican gubernatorial candidate lost the vote with a 51% to 49% margin, but he is now contesting the election results.