Heinzman: Why do we give our space away to politicians?

Heinzman: Why do we give our space away to politicians?

By Don Heinzman

This is the political season when community newspapers should make money on advertisements.

Now political campaign treasurers are looking for ways to get their candidates free publicity.  They send the media press releases and place letters to the editor week after week.  Of course editors look for news nuggets in the press releases and the letters that are fair game to contact opponents for response.  That is good local journalism.

Year after year, however, I am dismayed on how we give away our space in Voters Guides.  We typically send out questionnaires and print their answers ad nauseum.  And we publish them in guides that many times contain no ads by the candidate either in the paper or the Guide.

Let me be clear, we have an obligation to keep our readers informed.  So, in the issue containing the Voters Guide, we should tell the readers on Page 1,  the basics like date and details of the election and names of the candidates and a little about them.

In the Voters Guide, however, we should make it clear that candidates who want their answers in the Voters Guides must buy an advertisement of some size either in the Guide or in the paper.

As for the letters, we should edit them and perhaps restrict the number by the same writer or the messages that are similar.

We should instruct our ad sales persons to develop a package of print and on-line advertising and explain to the campaign chairs what new rules and buys are being offered.  The sales persons should also tell the campaign chairs the insert rates. They, of course, are planning to spend their salvaged money on brochures and flyers they plan to MAIL.

There will be some protests about freedom of the press, but you are in charge of special sections.  As long as you report the news fairly, use the special sections to make money.

Respond to : Consultant Donald R. Heinzman at  dhein0219@aol.com. , 325 W. 98th St.,Bloomington, Minn., 55420.