On May 9, we published our “ground rules for political letters this election season” so everyone would know what we’re trying to accomplish at our newspapers as we head toward November.
In recent weeks, some questions have been raised about the policy and a feeling by some that we are violating our own rules. Some have suggested we let letter writers publish their opinions without identifying them as advocates for one political party or another. We are certainly not knowingly allowing that.
Fairness in politics, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder. But we can establish some common guidelines for all parties and stick to them.
To sum up, here are the ground rules:
Individuals are limited to two letters per calendar month. We, of course, have the right to edit those letters. Letters to the editor are not the proper place for self-promotion and résumé dropping. Check with our advertising department for that.
For op-ed guest column submissions, please focus on a single topic or event and weigh in on that topic once. Your opponent may respond in a subsequent letter or guest column — with no additional back and forth afterward. That last part is the most important.
Of course, keep all your submissions civil. That’s not a prohibition against tough criticism — politics isn’t child’s play, after all — but it is a ban on personal attacks or rumor mongering.
If you belong to a political committee, or are working on behalf of someone’s campaign, identify yourself as such. Our readers deserve to know who is behind a certain campaign, and we can’t always know who’s who and what side they are working for.
No political letters or op-ed pieces will be published after the Oct. 24 edition. We may allow online-only submissions beyond that date, but only for newly raised issues.