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Election letter guidelines for the Messenger-Inquirer

April 7, 2010

With the primary campaign season heating up, we’re starting to receive letters to the editor from readers who want to sing the praises of a particular candidate they’d like to see in office.

Daviess County Commission western district candidates, from right, John Warren and Randy Booker, share a light moment in January as Daviess County Clerk, David "Oz" Osborne, left, draws candidate names to set the order of ballot positions for the May 18 primary election.

We have additional requirements for these campaign letters beyond the guidelines we use for typical Readers Write letters, and we’ll be running them periodically in our print edition.

What we’re trying to avoid is an influx of letters that do little more than ask that voters support a specific candidate – readers are looking for more than just a “Vote for Jim” letter, and want to know why one candidate stands above the rest, or why another candidate doesn’t deserve to be elected.

We think these are fair guidelines – if you think otherwise, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an e-mail – my contact info is listed below.

Here they are –

Election Letter Guidelines

The Messenger-Inquirer is accepting letters to the editor concerning the May 18 primary election. Here are our guidelines:
• Only letters of depth, substance and originality that relate to relevant issues and candidates’ views on them will be published. Simply writing a letter does not guarantee its publication. Letters that only provide an endorsement and do not deal with specific campaign issues will not be published.
• The limit for election letters is 200 words. Letters that exceed the limit will be delayed from publication while editing is completed.
• Letters that raise serious new allegations about a candidate must be submitted early enough to allow the candidate time to respond. Commenting on a candidate’s publicly spoken viewpoint or vote does not fall into this category.
• Candidates, their families and campaign officials may write letters, but they must adhere to the same guidelines as all other writers. “Form letters” — those that are mass-produced to say essentially the same thing, then distributed to people so that they can sign them and send them to the newspaper — will not be accepted.
• The deadline to turn in hand-written, typed or e-mailed letters is 5 p.m. on May 7. All letters will be published by May 16.
• Please include on the letter your name, address and daytime telephone number. All letters must be confirmed before publication.
You can reach us at P.O. Box 1480, Owensboro, KY 42302; by fax at (270) 686-7868; or by e-mail at readerswrite@messenger-inquirer.com. For more information, contact Editorial Page Editor Owen Covington at 691-7296.
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