Tom Stangl

The 2020 election cycle is in full swing and with its return, you can be sure that many others things will follow.

Arguments at the dinner table, irate messages on Facebook and a general increase in blood pressure are all on the way for many households.

In addition, endless television commercials, lots of robo calls and emails and many candidate ads popping up in your internet browser can be expected.

We will be covering elections in our pages as well, focusing on local races and giving some general information about regional and national races. We understand that our job is to sift through the noise, distilling the issues so you can make an informed decision on election day.

What this also means is it’s time for a reminder about letters to the editor, especially ones that seek to influence the outcome of an election.

Last fall, we implemented a policy that differentiates between political letters and all others. Letters that endorse a candidate or a position on an issue are now considered paid advertising.

For years, folks have been making their views known about many issues on our opinion pages. Our local readers have written to us on a number of issues over the years, ranging from abortion to fluoridation to immigration to civil, worker’s or religious rights.

We welcome the civil discourse on a wide variety of issues on our pages but recognized political campaigns used our letters section to get the word out about their cause or candidate. The campaigns were able to do this and save their marketing budgets for other forms of media, leveraging the news coverage to reach their target market — you.

So, we did what we thought was best. We decided to start charging for letters to the editor.

Will we still publish letters complaining about the actions of the school board or city council? Sure will. But if you want others to vote for someone or against a ballot issue, you will need to pay a fee. Not a large fee - $25 for up to 250 words, a dime a word for anything over the 250 word limit.

If you feel passionate about your cause or candidate, $25 for a letter shouldn’t be a hardship.

Everything else is free game, as long as you meet the word count limits, keep it civil and avoid language that could get anyone sued.

Here is the official policy regarding paid endorsement letters to the editor.

Paid endorsement letter policy

“We accept election letters endorsing or advocating for or against a ballot measure, party or candidate as paid advertising announcements. The fee is $25 minimum for a 250 word letter and 10 cents a word for additional words over 250. Like other letters to the editor, the writer’s name, address and phone number are required. Phone numbers are not published. We have the right to reject letters which don’t meet publishing standards and will determine if the letter qualifies as a paid endorsement. Paid letters will be identified with a label and may or may not appear on the opinion/letters page.”

If you have questions or concerns, drop me a line. I am happy to help.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

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