Policy on Politics
THE TIMES ARGUS HERALD GUIDELINES FOR POLITICAL NEWS COVERAGE, ENDORSEMENTS and POLITICAL ADVERTISING
NEWS & EDITORIAL COVERAGE
— The newspapers no longer endorse candidates for local, state or national office.
— As a general rule, the newspapers do not cover fund-raising dinners or campaign events limited to particular candidates or political parties.
— When a person announces their candidacy, the newspaper will run a news story. Such announcements must be received no later than one (1) month after the filing date for a particular office.
— The newspapers will publish news stories about write-in campaigns. Since decisions to run write-in campaigns sometimes are made shortly before an election, there is no deadline set on receiving such announcements.
— Election-related news coverage beyond, or in exception to the above, will be at the sole discretion of the newspaper’s publisher and editor in the name of newsworthiness, reader interest and information.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
— Election-related letters MUST address pertinent or timely issues of interest to our readers at-large.
— The newspapers will not publish partisan letters that promote or endorse local political candidates based solely on their record, reputation and qualifications. This constitutes paid political advertising and is handled through our advertising department. (See below)
— Candidates themselves may not use the letters to the editor column to outline their views and platforms or to ask for votes. This constitutes paid political advertising.
— Our newspapers are particularly sensitive to organized “letter-writing campaigns” believed to be part of a contrived attempt by a political camp to use the editorial page for campaigning purposes, or to otherwise attempt to manipulate our policies for a political advantage. As with all letters and advertising content, the newspapers, at the sole discretion of management, reserves the right to reject any such letter.
— Either newspaper is likely to reject singular letters to the editor that are “signed” or submitted under the names of multiple authors. We will not publish such letters without information provided that allows us to promptly verify that each signatory is aware of and has agreed to the contents of the letter.
— The newspapers strongly encourage writers to limit election-related letters to 250 words. (As it stands, this is also our recommended length for all letters to the editor.)
— To help insure fairness, all letters to the editor of a political nature must be received at the newspaper office at least ten (10) days before the election. (Two Saturdays prior to Election Day.)
— The exception to the 10-day rule is a response to a previous letter of an attacking or derogatory nature. In the name of fairness, the newspapers will accept such a response after the deadline,
provided it is written and delivered promptly. Such responses may rebut charges, innuendos or misstatements of fact from the initial letter but may not present new charges or level inflammatory counterattacks on the opposing political camp.
— Under no circumstances will any election-related letter be published after the Friday immediately prior to an election.
— In the case of questionable content (e.g. unfounded allegations, statements of fact that are suspect, or assaults on a candidate’s character or moral standards), the newspapers reserve the right to verify such information before publication, or to edit letters. Any changes necessary to render a letter suitable for publication will be reviewed with the writer prior to publication whenever possible. (This is the policy for all other letters to the editor, as well.)
— All letters must be signed and include the address and telephone number of the writer. Phone numbers are for questions and verification purposes only and will not be published.
— All political advertising is charged at the prevailing open rate. (No discounts, special pricing or earned rates.)
— All political advertising must be paid for in advance. No exceptions.
— All political advertising must carry a line reading “Authorized By....” or “Paid For By….” If authorized by the candidate, an authorized political committee, or their agents, the ad must clearly state such. If not authorized, the ad must clearly and specifically state the name of the person, committee or organization who placed or financed the ad. (Personal identification may be requested.) In the case of citizens’ groups, committees and unofficial organizations, these must be established, registered and/or reasonably identifiable to the newspaper’s readers. If not, the name of the treasurer or another officer may is required.
— The phrase “PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT” must be placed above all political advertising but by itself is insufficient.
— No political ads may be placed on special discounted pages or as part of any standing advertising features or categories within the newspaper that carry discounted or flat rates or restrictions on advertising. (e.g. page 1, main sports, directories, editorial page, comics page, etc.)
— There is no guaranteed position or placement offered for any political ads. All political ads will be placed ROP – Run of Press – in our normal course of laying out the newspaper.
— No political ads of a derogatory or attacking nature will be published after Wednesday’s edition, six (6) days prior to the election. (Note: Production deadlines require that all ads be placed with our sales department at least two, and sometimes three working days prior to publication.) In the name of fairness and our responsibility to the local voting public, only responses to derogatory ads will be allowed after the Wednesday cutoff, but such ads must be placed immediately to insure placement prior to the election. Responses may rebut charges, innuendos or misstatements of fact from the initial derogatory ad, but may not present new charges or level inflammatory counterattacks on the opposing political camp.
— In the case of questionable content (e.g. unfounded allegations, statements of fact that are suspect, or assaults on a candidate’s character or moral standards), the newspapers’ management reserves the right to verify such information before publication, or to reject the material.
— All candidate endorsements must run as a paid endorsement notice, and include the name and town of the person making the endorsement.
— The paid endorsement notice can be purchased online in three sizes: 50 words or less for $15; 51-175 words for $50; or 176-300 words for $75.
— No exceptions to this policy will be allowed.