As your local newspaper, our goal during the election cycle is to present readers with the most comprehensive information about the local election through our Voters’ Guide and letters to the editor. I know a number of you pointed out errors, which were corrected in the following week’s paper.
I will not ask you to vote for Trump or Biden, because our paper doesn’t cover the national election. Our focus is at a local level. I’m asking you to vote for who you believe is right for our communities. It doesn’t matter what side they are on. What matters is if you believe they will make the right decisions at a local level for us, the local people.
If you missed the candidate profiles in our Voters’ Guide, visit our website at presspubs.com. The Voters’ Guides were published in the September 16 issues of the White Bear Press and Vadnais Heights Press. These are the most comprehensive candidate profiles available in our area. Share them with your family and friends. Get informed and get out to vote.
Paid letters to the editor
A couple of years ago we put into play another level of transparency with a new requirement for political endorsement letters during the election. Both positive and negative letters needed to be accompanied by a $25 payment and we labeled these letters in the paper as paid letters to the editor for the benefit of our readers. For years our newsroom sifted through the ugly battle that comes during an election. People are passionate, which is great. However, campaign volunteers put enormous amounts of stress on our team with letter-writing campaigns. Something had to be done about it. Our staff saw candidates handing out letters at city council meetings for people to submit. This last week, we had two situations where people had submitted letters and wanted to have multiple signatures listed, yet those individuals were not aware they were endorsing a candidate. Also twice this week two different candidate campaigns called in to pay for letters written by their constituents. We also had a letter-writer suggest that the “paid letter” heading makes it seem like the letter writer is being paid to write the endorsement letter, rather than paying to have the letter published as an advertisement in the local paper.
I’m so thankful we implemented this level of transparency for our community and our readers. I believe the vast majority of our letters are written by our readers in their own words who are genuinely passionate about their candidate or local topics. For those readers who have made calls, expressed concerns in writing and even requested a refund of a voluntary subscription because you disagree with our election guidelines for letters, I ask you one thing -- reach out to your candidates and ask about their letter to the editor campaigns versus killing the messenger. Those of you out there who support this next level of transparency, I seek your support in subscriptions. I seek your support so we can continue to produce a quality newspaper that reflects the community where we work, live, play and raise our families.
Carter Johnson is publisher of Press Publications.