Public media stations, journalists beef over the best Washington

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Which is the better Washington: Washington, D.C., or Washington state?

washington-dc-flagThat’s the subject of a debate between WAMU in Washington, D.C., and journalists in the Pacific Northwest, including at public radio station KUOW. The issue arose as D.C. voters prepare to weigh in next month on whether the city should ask Congress for statehood.

washington_state_flagLast week, the D.C. Council decided to pursue the name of Washington, D.C., for the new state, with the “D” standing for Douglass (as in abolitionist Frederick Douglass) and the “C” for Commonwealth.

Some in Washington state were not impressed.

“Dear D.C., you can’t call yourself ‘State of Washington.’ That’s our name” was the headline of a story by Seattle Times reporter Evan Bush.

Chiefly, you can’t steal our statehood name, add a few letters and expect us to just sit back and enjoy the sea breeze while sipping on lattes and wearing flannel. Yes, we’re renowned for our chill in the Pacific Northwest, but we can do cold, too.

There’s enough confusion already!

Thus began a rivalry between two Washingtons.

“Dear Evan,” wrote Tom Sherwood on the blog of The Kojo Nnamdi Show, which airs on D.C.’s WAMU. “Apparently the drizzle in the Seattle air has clouded your West Coast thinking.”

We get to choose our name like any other state jurisdiction. There are two Carolinas and two Dakotas, why not two Washingtons? No one will confuse the two. You’re way out there in another time zone. Enough said. We’re here at the center of the world’s greatest democracy.

But here’s the rub: Right now we are not part of that democracy.

The conversation continued on social media under the hashtag #WASvsWAS. Caryn Mathes, a longtime g.m. of WAMU and now g.m. of KUOW in Seattle, weighed in after WAMU baited the station.

KUOW said little, taking the high road.

WAMU reporter Martin Austermuhle, who’s been covering D.C.’s pursuit of statehood, stirred the pot when he laid out 10 reasons why Washington, D.C., is superior to Washington state. But he reiterated that poking fun at KUOW and starting a rivalry was all in jest.

“You want to play upon your own sense of identity and spur a little friendly competition,” Austermuhle said. “The key word being friendly. We’re not trying to pick a fight with anybody.”

With that kind of middle-of-the-road comment, Austermuhle’s starting to sound a lot like the Northwest already. That said, others disagreed. “There are people in the comments who are taking it a little too seriously, but that’s the internet,” Austermuhle said.

And for some, it was all too much.

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