Seattle Chapter Member: Frank Blethen

Frank Blethen is publisher of the Seattle Times/seattletimes.com, the second largest newspaper/website on the West Coast.

The Times is known for its strong local coverage and its aggressive investigative reporting.   The Times has won eight Pulitzer Prizes and has been a Pulitzer finalist 15 other times since 1990. The Times was just awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.

The Seattle Times is one of America’s last independent and locally owned newspapers.  It is a values-based journalism/community service family business in its 115th year of Blethen family stewardship.

Frank is a member of the fourth family generation. Currently, there are nine members of the family’s fourth and fifth generations active in the journalism company’s management and governance.

He is a strong advocate for independent journalism, family-owned businesses and a longtime active participant in the national grass-roots movement in opposition to newspaper and media ownership consolidation.  In 2011, in recognition of Frank’s leadership on behalf of quality journalism, he was the first publisher to be awarded the American Society of News Editors’ News Leadership Award.

Frank has frequently received significant recognition for his leadership on diversity, inclusion and gender equity, including in 2011 receiving the Asian American Journalists Association’s Special Recognition Award and the Northwest Journalists of Color Diversity Award.

The Blethen family and the Seattle Times are known as advocates for diversity, education and community service.  They also own the Yakima Herald-Republic, the Walla Walla Union–Bulletin and several Seattle-area weeklies, including the Issaquah Press.

Q&A

What’s your life motto?
Stay true to your core values and always try to do the right thing.

Advice for up-and-coming journalists?
Journalism matters now more than ever before. Learn you skills well and never lose sight of our mission to help individuals build community.

How did you become involved with AAJA?
I became involved in AAJA through Seattle Times members of the Seattle Chapter. Mainly as a contributor and supporter of the journalists of the Seattle Times.

Why did you decide to become a journalist?
I actually came up on the business side initially but had been a publisher in Walla Walla and Seattle for a combined 26 years and deeply involved in news and editorial. My inspiration has been community service. There’s simply no greater community service whether in regards to the big picture of democracy and self-government or the small picture of your local community.

Why is media diversity important to you?
Media diversity is critical to me for two reasons: simply basic fairness. Trite as it sounds, we’re all created equal and deserve the opportunity and access to achieve our dreams. It is a basic premise of the American Constitution and the Founding Fathers, who also created the environment for a free and independent press so that all peoples and point of views could be represented. (I’m not naive, inclusion initially was restricted to wealthy white land owners, but the magic of America is the way the definition has expanded and become more inclusive over the decades even if we still do have much work to do.)


Learn more about other AAJA members profiled for AAPI Month.