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I'll be honest with you. About this time last year I was concerned about the direction this paper was taking, so much so that I considered no longer writing my weekly column for it. The political rhetoric was, from my point of view, beyond what the general public considered interesting. I don't say this to cast aspersions toward the previous editor and/or publisher. I say them to set a new standard of this newspapers involvement in political campaigns. To clear the air, so to speak.
This newspaper will continue to cover every election and the candidates locked in battle within them. We feel an informed public is better equipped to make decisions. We will not endorse candidates. We will not slant coverage in one direction or the other. We will endeavor to cover all sides of an election in our news section without bias. However, we make this statement with the full understanding that anything written, or omitted, about a candidate will be scrutinized. Readers firmly entrenched in the political camps of the candidates can and will analyze, parse and deduce our coverage in an effort to seek motivation for the words contained on the pages. Let me save everyone some time by saying this...we do not have dogs in the fight. We will present the facts as we find them from as many parties involved as we can. We will include quotes without explanation of the words because we feel our readers can determine meaning on their own. We will keep all quotes in the context from which they were given. We will not run a story until we have done everything humanly possible to ensure fair and balanced coverage. We will question boldly.
With all this being said, I am opening the Opinion page of this newspaper to any candidate from the past two years who feels coverage here at the Saline Courier was not fair to them or that they feel was biased. We will run every letter we receive. Our standard Letter to the Editor policy limits writers to 250 words or less. Our standard for a Guest Editorial is limited to 750 words or less. In both cases, each submission must include the name, city and contact information of the writer in order to verify the information contained within. The Courier prefers typewritten or e-mailed letters. These formats ensure accurate reproduction on the page without attempts to decipher hand-written documents.
Letters are checked for libelous and/or vulgar language and may be edited for length or content. We will not accept form letters in support of or against any candidate for public office.
However, we will speak out on initiative that we feel will benefit the city, county or region. The proposed event center is a good example. We feel it is a sound plan, has the support of the community at large and would mark a turning point for the city of Benton. There will be other projects from around the county that we may chime in on from time to time. We welcome any and all individuals who may disagree with our viewpoint.
We make no apologies for the past. The past is over and done. It is what it is. To now state that we retract what was said or omitted would require time travel and omniscience regarding the individuals writing and approving the articles of contention. Since time travel is not possible and omniscience is reserved for the divine, we respectfully abstain from questioning the motives of those who came before.
Therefore, the invitation is extended as mentioned above to any candidate who felt we got it wrong on our editorial pages during election coverage over the past two years. We will print it, verbatim, as long as it fits the parameters we have spelled out.
But you must act quickly. This is a limited time offer that expires at the end of this year. After then, it will be considered a dead issue. We are moving on.