Editorial: Silly season ground rules

05/19/2017 5:55 AM |

Local nominating conventions will begin this coming week and with that comes the start of what has long been dubbed “silly season.”

With that in mind, we’ve dusted off our biennial editorial outlining election season rules.

We have long prided ourselves on providing coverage of town and county races through our newspapers and websites, and we will continue to do so this season, including a candidates debate we plan to host with our friends from southoldlocal.com.

We understand that candidates and committee members sometimes want to reach our readers in their own words. This can sometimes be a slippery slope, with the newspaper’s editors often having to play referee — rejecting op/eds or cutting unproven and potentially libelous facts from letters and political advertisements.

In the coming weeks, our opinion section will undoubtedly carry considerable commentary about the individuals on the November ballot.

We ask those who seek office to stick to the issues and abide by our general letters policy. That means keep it to under 350 words and prepare to be edited as we deem fair and appropriate.

Aside from a single introductory letter from each candidate, this isn’t the place for self-promotion and résumé dumping. We ask that any additional letters or op/ed submissions focus on a single topic or event. You should also expect that we will allow your opponent to respond in a subsequent letter or equal time piece, with no additional back and forth beyond that. We also will not allow a single candidate to hijack our opinion pages with repeated editorials or letters, so choose your words wisely.

For letter writers who do stick to the issues and call out officials or others on their actions or positions, remember to keep it civil. We live in a small town and today’s adversaries can be tomorrow’s friends and neighbors. That’s not a prohibition against tough criticism, but it is a ban on nasty personal attacks.

Also, if you belong to a local political committee or work for someone already in office, we ask that you identify yourself as such. If not, we’ll do it for you.

We also ask that political advertisements from fringe committees be submitted with the name of an individual on them. Our readers deserve to know who is behind a certain campaign.

Lastly, we ask you to keep in mind that we will not accept political letters for the print edition beyond Monday, Oct. 23 — with the exception of allowing a nominated candidate to address a claim made against them in that week’s paper. We may allow online-only submissions beyond that date, but will limit it to newly raised issues.

Let the silliness begin.

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