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home : opinion : editorial May 25, 2016

8/20/2014 11:02:00 AM
Our political policy
In case you hadn't noticed, the 2014 election season is well underway and as Election Day draws near, so does its impact on the community and this newspaper.
This is also the time of year the Citizen annually announces its political policy. The policy is not designed to stifle public opinion, but rather to allow a fair opportunity for everyone to address the key issues of this campaign.
From now until November, our job is to help readers wade through the political process. Our goal is to find out what candidates are like and where they stand on key issues.
The Voter's Guide
Once again, we will combine the vast majority of our election coverage in one pre-election package called the Citizen Voter's Guide.
A list of questions will soon be sent to local candidates who are involved in races (with announced opposition.) The candidates have a few weeks to carefully craft their answers and explain exactly how they would serve the public.
Our readers will receive the Voter's Guide on the week of Oct. 29, less than a week before the election.
One thing our readers will not likely see in the Oct. 29 Citizen is any type of political letter to the editor. Our long-standing policy not to publish letters the week before the election is there to protect the integrity of the election.
We've seen cases where newspapers have allowed letters in the final days before an election. What resulted, in some cases, were letters that raised false or misleading charges. The opposition had no opportunity to respond and those letters ultimately impacted the elections.
As always, we appreciate letters to the editor. However, letters pertaining to an election can be a bit tricky. We ask that letter writers separate what they know from what they think they know. In short, please double-check your facts and abide by the following policy.
Letters to the editor
The Citizen will not carry letters to the editor that simply endorse candidates.
The newspaper considers such letters to be advertising. They should be handled as such.
The paper will carry letters dealing with issues pertinent to the political campaigns affecting the area. We will not carry letters to the editor from candidates if the letters only outline the candidates' positions.
Candidates will be allowed to respond with letters related to the issues that were raised about them in earlier letters to the editor or in news stories that appear in this newspaper.
Candidate rebuttal letters serve as the lone exception to our policy on political letters the week before the election. The rebuttal letters can only be used if the candidate needs to respond to a charge or criticism that appeared in the previous week's paper.
All political letters must comply with the Citizen's existing guidelines - a 300-word limit, typed (not handwritten), name and address included and submitted prior to the Monday noon deadline.
The Citizen reserves the right to edit all letters for length, libel, clarity, accuracy, grammar and punctuation. We will allow no name-calling, unsubstantiated allegations or personal attacks - period. We will not publish form letters, petitions, quotations or anonymous letters.
Letters should be factually accurate and reflect the original thoughts of a single writer. Readers are permitted one letter per race. Requests for specific print dates will not be honored.
Email submission is preferred at citizen@windomnews.com. You also can send letters to Citizen Publishing Company, Box 309, Windom, MN, 56101, or fax them to 507-831-3740.
For verification, please include your full name, signature, full address and daytime telephone number. Only the name and city of residence will be published.
News coverage
The Citizen will provide news coverage of the election, list the polling information and carry profiles of candidates in our new Voter's Guide prior to the general election.
These policies are designed to be straightforward and to encourage an issue-oriented campaign.
We hope readers use us as a tool, both through letters and reading the campaign news, advertisements and profiles for the election.
If you have questions about this policy, please feel free to send an email to rahnl@windomnews.com, or call our office at 831-3455.
      - Rahn Larson

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