Elections and the newspaper

Aug 14, 2014

Summer does not officially end in our patch of Midcoast until after the Union Fair, but we are looking forward to the next big season, the final run-up to the election Nov. 4.

There are a number of important issues on the ballot this year, including the election of our state's next governor and whether to prohibit use of dogs and bait in bear hunting. We will also elect lawmakers to represent our interests in Augusta.

We thought it would be helpful to outline some of our policies going into the last part of this election season.

What to ask?

First of all, we are looking for feedback from the readers to help us as we question the candidates this year.

What would you like to ask your local candidate about? Health care? Property taxes? Funding for education? Retirement policy issues?

You can submit a question for a candidate by using your cellphone to scan the code below or visiting our online poll at knox.villagesoup.com/p/take-online-poll-what-would-you-like-to-ask-the-candidates/1222396?cid=8939323.

Letters

We will accept letters to the editor concerning the election up until Oct. 20. After that, we cut off the letters because we do not want to publish something right before the election that a candidate would not have time to respond to.

We will attempt to publish all of the election letters we receive up to that deadline, but we may be limited by space. For that reason, we ask letter writers to please limit the length of letters to 500 words or fewer. Letters may be edited for libel or other issues. Always include your name, town of residence and phone number with a letter. We will not publish the phone number, but we might call you if we have a question about the letter.

We also do not publish form letters or chain letters, where a group sends around a letter template and people who agree with it then sign it and send it in to us. Please, if you support a candidate or a cause, write your letter in your own words.

Candidates

We will write profile stories about all of the candidates in local races. Beyond that, candidates can submit one letter to the editor between now and the election to promote themselves. It is advisable to send those in early so we have time and space to publish them. One guest column may be allowed too per candidate, provided we have space, and that is subject to prior approval by the editor.

Incumbent candidates often send us press releases about what they are doing leading up to an election. In cases where this is not really news, but just election campaigning (such as a visit to the State House by a constituent pictured shaking hands with the smiling candidate), we will not run this material. If an event or activity is important and of interest to the public, we may write a story about it.

Our goal in making these kinds of decisions is never based on any bias or partisan politics on our part. Whatever we do for one candidate, we are obligated to do for all. We want to make sure every candidate is given fair and equal treatment in our pages and online.

Members of VillageSoup are able to publish blogs, and this includes candidates. We have decided not to censor those candidates who have chosen to have blogs with us, but we are not actively promoting these blogs, and we're not likely to publish any material from the blogs unless there is a valid journalistic reason to do so. Blogs, letters and columns may be edited or taken down from the site if they violate any of our policies, which prohibit publishing anything slanderous or libelous, personal attacks and false information.

If you have any questions about our election policies, call News Director Daniel Dunkle at 594-4401 ext. 122 or e-mail him at ddunkle@courierpublicationsllc.com. Letters can be sent to Courier Publications, 91 Camden St., Suite 403, Rockland, ME 04841. Mark envelopes "Letter to the editor." They also can be sent by e-mail to news@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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