Thornton: political ADs and the editorial separation of church and state

Over the last few weeks several readers, elected leaders and political hopefuls have been inquiring on why we run certain items, don’t run certain submissions, allow others, but also carry political advertising campaigns.

Terrance Thornton

The first and most prominent question I have been receiving has been in regard to the front-page sticker AD popular amongst political candidates. For some, they took the advertisement as offensive and provided the candidate a certain kind of political endorsement from Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA.

First and foremost, we don’t make political endorsements.

At the Scottsdale Independent we seek to uphold the standards of our founders who have put protections in place within our Newsroom Guidelines to curtail any erosion of our conscientiousness approach to local journalism.

Among those principles, three highlight our stance on why we don’t offer any kind of political endorsements or provide our opinions anywhere in our products:

  • We have faith in the public’s ability to eventually make good decisions if we provide them a solid understanding of the issues and a place to debate and develop their opinions.
  • When newspapers take editorial stances, the newspaper’s reputation for purposeful neutrality is jeopardized, and its news coverage, however even-handed, becomes suspect.
  • We believe our resources are better spent giving people the information they need to make their own intelligent decisions about important public issues.

But we do allow political advertising, those in the most traditional sense and as new and innovative print and digital methods emerge — the front-page sticker or the online newsletter direct-delivery method — we will offer those avenues for political candidates to get their messages out.

At the Scottsdale Independent, we believe:

  • Political advertising is a part of our newspapers’ public service mission to assist citizens in making intelligent decisions at the polls by providing issue-oriented messages from local candidates.

Furthermore, we define a political AD as, “any promotional message that refers directly to an election, a candidate for election, an election issue, a referendum, and partisan cause or lobbyist’s activities.”

We at the Independent maintain the vital separation between editorial and advertising departments to ensure our integrity can remain intact, which is paramount, we believe, to helping to maintain our American democracy.

Northeast Valley Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at tthornton@newszap.com

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