Election season about to start heating up

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 27, 2007

As the days of September wind down, there’s a lot more on the horizon than just October.

Yep, it’s about time for election season to start heating up.

The letters to the editor supporting candidates, the elected officials trying to put their best foot forward and the increased campaigning are right around the corner.

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For The Ironton Tribune, the objective is to give readers an opportunity to present their political views and to treat candidates fairly. It’s important for the newspaper, however, to have policies that don’t give any particular candidate an advantage.

This is particularly true when it comes to letters to the editor. The deadline to receive letters to the editor focused on political races is Monday, Oct. 15. That gives us enough time to process the letters and get them published well before the election.

Candidates are not permitted to write letters. Authors should keep in mind that letters should focus on opinions, not facts that cannot be easily proven or refuted. Information that cannot be verified will not be published.

For example, if a letter writer says a particular candidate is a criminal, it has to be documented. Authors are entitled to their opinions, but they are not entitled to make up facts that cannot be verified.

Let’s keep it clean.

An editorial page is a forum for legitimate political debate. The particular candidate a writer endorses or the particular side a writer takes on an issue is irrelevant —they will all be published as long as the author has a local tie and meets the guidelines explained here as well as the ones outlined in the information box on the Opinion page.

Besides letters, there are decisions about coverage that inevitably arise around election time. Newspapers guard against artificial news, the events that are designed for nothing more than exposure for a political candidate. Those types of events have dwindled because readers are savvy to notice them and can actually be detrimental to a candidate.

Submitted material is also an area of caution. If the newspaper receives submitted photographs of check passings, ribbon cuttings or the like, we’ll publish them, but we’ll publish them after the election.

In some cases, a candidate may be a key source for an important story. In this type of situation, they will not get preferential treatment but will not be excluded either. Each case will be judged on its own merits.

Of course, one of our obligations is to inform the public about the candidates. We will publish an election preview with biographical information on the candidates and we’ll provide information in editorials about our position on key races and issues.

Let the games begin.

Rick Greene is the managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1441, ext. 12, or by e-mail at rick.greene@irontontribune.com.