Paid letters

Sunday, June 13, 2010

There are those reading the editorial above who may be thinking that all of the Southeast Missourian's claims to be open to all viewpoints are somehow muddied by the newspaper's relatively new policy regarding Paid Election Letters. In fact, this new policy opens our opinion pages to more viewpoints about political candidates.

Before the new policy took effect earlier this year, the Southeast Missourian policy was simple: No letters to the editor or Speak Out comments about or from candidates. This was an easy-to-police policy, and candidates for local, state and national offices accepted it.

In an effort to allow input on candidates without opening the newspaper to outright abuse by candidates and their supporters, the Paid Election Letter policy was instituted. This policy was based on those of other newspapers that have a tradition of charging for campaign letters the same way they charge for political advertising.

As a result, the Paid Election Letters policy affords those who support or oppose candidates to have a voice in the Southeast Missourian. Rather than excluding those voices, we have chosen to provide an outlet. And it appears to be working. Several candidates and their campaign staffs, as well as voters interested in those candidates, have submitted Paid Election Letters.

It is our hope these letters will contribute in a positive way to a better understanding of candidates' philosophies and positions. But some Paid Election Letters will be negative. That has always been a reality of American politics dating back to the Founding Fathers.

We encourage participation in our political process. We hope Paid Election Letters will accommodate that.

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