Policies, guidelines for our election coverage
Published 11:16 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2016
In the weeks to come, voters in Selma, Valley Grande and Orrville will no doubt be inundated with campaign signs, billboards, mailers and other materials. After all, all three municipalities will hold elections in August and decide their next mayor and city council.
While those elections may be four months away, candidates have already begun campaigning, and I think it’s time to share how the Times-Journal plans to cover the election. This will allow candidates and their supporters to know upfront what our policies will be. Above all, we want to be fair and consistent.
Every candidate and his or her supporters will have the opportunity to buy advertising in the newspaper to share his or her platforms with readers, but everything that is not paid political advertising will fall under one of the following policies.
Every candidate who has qualified for office can submit a political announcement and photo to introduce himself or herself to the community. Qualifying begins July 5 and runs through July 19.
We will publish one announcement for free as a public service.
Announcements must be 300 words or less and will be published primarily on the bottom left hand of page 1A on any day other than Sundays before the Aug. 23 election. Our staff may edit any announcement for style, clarity, grammar and length.
No announcements will be published the week prior to the election. The deadline to submit an announcement and it publish before the cutoff is Aug. 10.
An announcement can include biographical information, experience and qualifications and platform issues. A photo of the candidate should be included, but is not required.
As a public service, candidates can have their portraits taken at the Times-Journal studio for free. All portraits taken by Times-Journal staff need to be scheduled by Aug. 10. My contact information is below in the column.
Letters to the editor
Readers, including friends and family of the candidates, are invited to write letters to the editor about the upcoming race. Our only rule is to play nicely.
We will publish letters in favor of one specific candidate, but not publish letters bashing another candidate.
We will only publish letters containing provable facts and character options, not speculation or untruths.
We will not publish letters from the candidates themselves.
No letters regarding the election will be published the week of the election. The deadline for submitting any election-related letters is also Aug. 10.
No candidate running for office will be allowed to write guest columns or letters to the editor on any topic during the election season. Election season is defined as the period from July 5 through the day after any runoff elections.
Our reporters will work to provide voters with as much information as they can about each and every candidate but will only present facts, not opinions. After qualifying, the newspaper will begin publishing news stories profiling candidates in each race, allowing candidates to discuss their platforms, and asking them questions about how they will govern should they be elected.
Candidates will have ample opportunity to speak to readers through these stories. We also plan to publish an election guide with biographies and platforms from each candidate.
Readers who have questions for any of the candidates are encouraged to submit them to us at email@example.com or by calling (334) 410-1730.
The newspaper’s editorial board will conduct in-depth interviews with every willing candidate in the major contested races. After giving every candidate a chance to explain their goals and answer the board’s question, the editorial board will make endorsements in the races on the Opinion page of the newspaper.
If any candidate or their supporters have any questions about the policies listed above, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (334) 410-1730.