In the 11 years I’ve covered politics in our communities, I’ve not seen a city election season start as early as this one.
The good news is, people are engaged in our local governement and want to take on the tough job of governing. And make no mistake, it is a hard job. Regardless of whether you personally like or dislike certain candidates or elected officials, they all work very hard on our behalf. And if you don’t like them, well, that’s what elections are for.
The bad news is, when elections start early, from my perspective, the rules of engagement change. Every candidate running for election or re-election who last year was tackling an important issue or fighting for a cause this year is viewed as doing everything for political reasons, at least in the minds of some.
So I thought I’d provide some rules of engagement for how we will be handling this year’s elections, so that our readers, the candidates and their supporters can understand our decision-making process.
Candidate events: We will cover an announcement of a candidate’s candidacy as well as the official launch of a candidate’s campaign. Fundraisers or related events following those official announcements will not be covered, but we will run briefs announcing the time and place of those events ahead of time if they are supplied by candidates or their campaign managers via email. This does not include events of general community interest that a candidate or candidates happens to be participating in. We will cover those regardless.
Letters to the editor supporting candidates: You are welcome to send these letters until the date ballots are mailed for both the primary and general election. These letters must include the letter writer’s full name and city of residence. After the ballots drop, those letters will no longer be published.
Candidate advertising: Any paid advertising for candidates will be clearly labeled as such. Advertising is handled by our Advertising Sales Director Kathy Hashbarger and does not impact our editorial coverage. We will cover all candidates the same regardless of whether they buy advertising.
Our pledge of fairness: We do our best to provide fair and equal coverage of all candidates. We don’t endorse candidates or ballot measures. If anyone feels this pledge has been violated, please email me at email@example.com.
Our commitment to correct errors or omissions: If we’ve made an error in our campaign coverage (or any coverage), email me. If you believe we’ve omitted important facts or viewpoints, email me. Despite what some people think (or have implied, particularly on our Facebook page), omissions of information are not intentional. Usually, it’s because our writers or the editor (me) are moving too quickly and overlook something. We always have — and always will — update an article by supplying missing information as soon as we learn about it. We are not perfect. We always strive to do better.
Speaking of missing information, I’ve compiled some guidelines below outlining how to best send news and photos to us, to ensure we are as fair and accurate as possible in our coverage. Email is absolutely the most efficient way for us to receive submissions. Don’t rely on us having a complete understanding of your event from a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram post. Chances are we will either 1) miss it entirely or 2) miss the pertinent facts that you want included. Having it all in one place, in an email, with a link for more details, if applicable, ensures better coverage.
As always, thanks for helping us make our publications the best they can be.
— Teresa Wippel, Publisher
Our guidelines for submitting news and photos
If you have news of an event you would like us to publicize or if you have a story idea for us to follow up on, here’s the best way to submit:
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include all information regarding your event — consider the who, what, when, where, why and how. If there are event sponsors that you want highlighted, please list them in the email.
- An official press release is not necessary, but if you have one, either 1) copy and paste the content directly into the email or 2) send a Word document attachment. Do not send a PDF, as that format is difficult to manage and often the formatting does not transfer correctly.
- Photos or images can either be embedded into a Word document or attached separately. Low-resolution photos are fine since we are a digital publication. If you have trouble sending a photo file because it’s too large, it’s larger than we need — resize it before sending. Please send a caption describing the image that includes, if appropriate, the date and location where it was taken.
- Fliers of events are OK to send if they provide additional background information on the event.
- Do not assume that a Facebook event listing alone will suffice for getting the word out. While these are helpful for reaching Facebook followers, keep in mind that not everyone has Facebook. We don’t always see information on Facebook either, and we may miss pertinent details if the only way you announce your event is via Facebook. If you want to ensure we capture your event properly, send us an email at email@example.com with the information to be included.
Our guidelines for submitting letters to the editor
- Letters to the editor must be labeled as such and signed by an individual that includes city of residence.
- We do accept letters from organizations but they must include the signature of an individual representative or representatives, noting they are writing on behalf of the organization.
- We can’t run photos or other images with letters to the editor.
If you have questions about other types of submissions not covered here, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Note that these guidelines also live on our About page, for future reference)