Archived Story

How The Outlook covers elections

Published 2:37pm Monday, July 9, 2012

I’d like to take a few moments to explain how this newspaper handles election coverage.

First, it’s important for our readers to understand the three basic types of political messages found in the paper: news, opinion and advertising.

News stories are written by the newspaper staff. We work hard to make our news stories as objective as possible, reporting the facts without bias. Sometimes a news story will contain opinion, but it is somebody else’s opinion, not the newspaper’s. For instance, we may ask several candidates why they are the best person for the mayor’s job. Their answer will certainly be  their opinion, and we will report what they say as accurately as possible. These factual stories will be published in the news pages of the newspaper.

If anyone has a question about the election, please write the newspaper at editor@alexcityoutlook.com or call 256-234-4281 and let us know, and we will work hard to get a factual, unbiased answer published in the paper.

Opinion – both the newspaper’s opinion and the public’s opinion – will be published on the Opinion page, which is page 4 in our Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday editions. It’s clearly labeled “opinion” at the top of the page. If you would like to share your opinion about the election or a candidate, we welcome your comments in the form of letters to the editor or guest columns. The main difference is that letters to the editor are best suited for brief comments and a guest column is for longer pieces and includes a photo of the writer. All opinion pieces must include the name of the writer, and if you need help expressing your opinion, our staff will be happy to help you write it. We reserve the right to edit or not publish any opinion that contains libelous or slanderous comments or uses inappropriate language. Remember that thousands of people will read these opinions. Our best advice is, “Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in front of your mother.” At the same time, we think it is very important for people to write and share their opinions. This page is a public forum, and when we hear what each other has to say, it helps us all make the better choices for the people who will lead our local government.

We will stop publishing opinions about the election on the Saturday before election day because it’s not fair to candidates to have a “bombshell” dropped on election day when it is too late to respond.

The newspaper’s opinion will be published as an editorial, on the top left side of this page. On the Saturday before any election Tuesday, the newspaper’s editorial staff will make endorsements for our local races, explaining who we think is the best candidate for each race after interviewing and considering all who are running for each office.

Our staff writers also have the option to share their opinions about the election – just as all our readers do – in columns on this page.

The newspaper will publish an election special edition, with profiles of each candidate and their stands on the major issues in each race, during the week before the election. That issue will also include a sample ballot, stories about the election and stories about how to vote.

The paper will cover the election night with multiple updates live on our website and print the election results, interviews with the winners and complete box-by-box results in the Wednesday newspaper after election night.

Placing a political ad in this paper, or working with Tallapoosa Publishers, is – in my opinion – the most efficient way for candidates to get their message out. Our products reach more than 75 percent of the residents in the Lake Martin area. We offer ads printed in the paper and on our website, as well as ads in our magazines. We can even print special political fliers that could be inserted in our newspapers and distributed door-to-door or at events by candidates.

These ads represent the opinion of a candidate or an organization. All political ads will contain a notification saying it is a paid political advertisement and identifying who paid for it. We charge the same rates to every candidate and work hard to do the best job possible to make each ad effective for our advertising customers, without bias.

We do all this to try to help our community elect the best candidate for each office. It’s every citizen’s responsibility to participate in the election and help our community forge a local government that’s of the people, for the people and by the people.

If you have any questions about our election policies, please give me,  General Manager Roger Steele or Managing Editor Virginia Spears a call.

Boone is publisher of The Outlook.

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