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Seattle P-I: No, we won't help the FBI…we'll hold a haiku contest instead! Update: FBI flooded with tips Update: Seattle P-I admits haiku contest was bone-headed idea

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 22, 2007 09:31 AM

Update 2:00pm Eastern. The Seattle P-I responds to the blogosphere. Monica Guzman announces there will be no haiku winner contest:

The paper’s decision not to run photos of the two Seattle ferry passengers sought by the FBI didn’t take long yesterday to become part of a widespread debate that provoked readers around the country.

It also spread throughout the blogosphere. While most blogs pointed directly to the debate, some made some poignant comments about the topic of yesterday’s Daily Haiku contest, a topic that — considering the sensitivity of the issue — was probably not the best we could have come up with.

While the Big Blog mixes fun and news on a daily basis, in this case we undermined a serious issue and a serious debate, and made it seem as if we in the newsroom didn’t acknowledge its importance.

So thanks to all the bloggers who pointed this out. We agree it was a bad call and will learn from the experience.

P.S. — We’re not going to pick a winner.

Yep. We all know who the loser is, though:

pisymbol.jpg

The paper still refuses to run the FBI photos.

Update 11:15am Eastern. John Does are coming forward to assist the FBI. The feds say they have been flooded with tips.

FBI agents are working through tons of tips they received after releasing a photo of two men who they say were acting suspiciously aboard Washington state ferries.

Publicizing the photo of men who haven’t been accused of a crime was an unusual move by the FBI. Officials with the Bureau say they just want to talk to the two men.

The State Patrol says investigators started by showing the pictures to ferry workers, Then they showed them at a fire and police training exercise.

With no new leads, they decided to get all the ferry riders involved by publicizing the photos and asking, “do you know who these men are?”

Ed Morrissey votes for his favorite P-I reader haiku so far by Dani B.:

Don’t be proactive
More readers if ferry sinks
Post pictures after

***

At 6am yesterday morning, I posted the FBI photo of two men who have been spotted by ferry employees and passengers acting strangely aboard Washington State ferries recently. I noted that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer refused to run the photos. In a follow-up story, the P-I explained its decision further:

The P-I elected not to publish the photos, citing civil liberties and privacy concerns, which editors felt outweighed the newsworthiness of the images. “We have no confirmation that these men’s behavior was anything but innocuous, and to forever taint them by associating them with terrorism under these circumstances is not consistent with our policy,” said David McCumber, P-I managing editor.

There’s no taint if there’s no terrorism. Were their actions nefarious or misinterpreted? The men could clear that up in a split second by coming forward and saying so. Bill Hobbs weighs in at Newsbusters:

Of course it would be easier to find out which is the case if the FBI could find the guys. And it would be easier to find the guys if the Seattle P-I would publish the photos, so that Seattle-area residents would know what the men look like whom the FBI has asked the public to help them find. As it stands now, in the name of being politically correct, the Seattle P-I has decided to alarm the people of Seattle and leave them looking suspiciously at just about anyone who fits the general description of male and looking like they might be from the Middle East.

So, how else is the P-I covering the story (or rather, not covering the story)? By holding a haiku contest, of course! (Hat tip – Bill Hobbs, who has more here).

The P-I’s Monica Guzman invites readers to share their feelings in verse:

haiku.jpg

You’ll love some of the entries. A sample:

Possible danger?
Political correctness!
Paper fails duty.

Seattle P I
Is a joke to sane people
God help Seattle

a magical place,
where 9/11 never
happened. Seattle.

PI wants Haiku
To justify its dumbness
Task Impossible

And my favorite:

Who are these ‘masked’ men?
Michelle Malkin has pictures.
Get your news from her.

Hey, thanks! Feel free to post more.

ferryfbi1.jpg

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