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Kissing the Blarney Stone: Newspaper ads during campaign season
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I have been in the newspaper business for close to 50 years. It’s not that I’m that old (in case you’re thinking I am using a fake picture; if you think I look even older than that, tell me and I will stop dying my hair grey). I actually started when I was 14.

The one thing in this business I have found to be always true is that half the readers are always going to disagree with you, and if the paper is being fair, you’ll get criticism from both sides of any issue.

This is particularly true during the heat of election campaigns.

I have also found, after these many years, that most of our readers never think of us as a business, and again, that is good too.

The truth is, the reason you can read the paper for pennies is because of the advertisers who are our partners who feel that the money they invest in our paper brings them results.

Of course, we think that these folks have made some wise business decisions.

The support of these wise business decision makers allows us to employ five full time people, maintain an office, provide the equipment to run the office and pay the taxes which helps support our community.

In other words, what our advertisers put into our paper goes back into the community to help support their business.

For many years in our industry, it was a sacred rule that you didn’t run paid ads on your front page. I don’t know how that started because until the 40s and 50s most newspapers ran paid ads on their front pages. It was probably some pious graduate from journalism school working some place like the New York Times, who never ran a business, who started that tradition.

During the last 10 years the practice of running ads on the front page has started again, especially in community newspapers across the nation. I am sure this practice has caused some of those old pious editorial buzzards to turn over many times in their graves.

Many large papers still have kept up with self imposed purity of not running ads on their front pages. Many of those purists are no longer in business or have been reduced to becoming community newspapers only.

We have a policy that allows businesses or individuals who are willing to pay a premium to run ads on our front page. That practice started before this political season began.

When this campaign season started, we approached every local candidate who filed for office and presented our rates, including rates for our front page, which was offered at a high premium.

Only one of those candidates chose to run his ad on the front page. That was Courtney Dillard. He agreed to our terms, paid his money, and he runs on our front page. We called his competition and offered her the same spot to alternate with Dillard. She chose not to take it.

When we run ads either for businesses or during political season, we don’t question what political party they represent or what their policies are. We look at it as a business decision.

Some of our readers, because Courtney Dillard made the decision to pay the price and promote himself on our front page, have told us that they feel we are in the Dillard camp, so to speak, or that we surely are the pawns of the Democratic party. Neither is true.

Much to Mr. Dillard’s dismay, we in fact have broken the stories on his past history that we know he didn’t want seen. In fact, his campaign people feel we are now the tools of the Republican party, solely bent on ruining his candidacy. Actually, we have done the same due diligence on the Republican candidate, much to her displeasure.

In today’s paper we have again expressed our opinions on his candidacy.

I personally think that in today’s world there are no secrets that you can keep hidden permanently in your past life. I don’t understand why anyone who has any history he would not want made public would subject himself or his family to the public scrutiny that comes with running for political office.

We are not a political paper and are not controlled by anyone. We do take and will continue to take strong stands on what we believe is right for our community. You are welcome to disagree; we will always provide you space to do so as long as you are willing to sign your name to your opinion.

If you would like to know who is responsible for the editorials on this page it is the editor and publisher. Both of our names are listed clearly on the top left of this page.

If you want to talk to me about this column or would like me to come talk to your club or organization about our policies, I am always available to accommodate you.