Across the Universe: Election season and your opinions
During every election season, I get several requests about our policy for political and reader endorsement letters.
This year, my inboxes have been filled more than ever before, thanks to concerned citizens wishing to opine on recent decisions from the Placer County Planning Commission and Placer County Board of Supervisors about the Martis Valley West and Village at Squaw Valley development proposals.
So with that in mind, I want to take time to remind people of a few guidelines we have for our Opinion pages, for SierraSun.com, as well as the print editions of the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun.
In terms of election-focused items, our Opinion pages are a forum for comments on candidates and political issues. However, we will not publish personal attacks, and we reserve the right to limit the number of rebuttals.
If a letter is written as part of a campaign, the affiliation must be clearly stated. If a letter is written by an elected official or a candidate for election, his or her affiliation must be clearly stated (even if you choose to share your thoughts “as a private citizen”).
Political letters/columns for the Nov. 8 general election will not be printed after the Wednesday, Nov. 2, print edition of the Sierra Sun (including online at SierraSun.com) unless deemed necessary for a reply to a previous issue. For the Bonanza, that date is Thursday, Oct. 27.
Those are the key items relative to elections. There are additional guidelines to know that impact all submissions, some of which are published within the fine print at the bottom of our Opinion page. Here are a few highlights:
Limit for a letter is 300 words. My Turn/Guest Columns hold a 700-word limit. Letters will be prioritized, and columns will take a backseat and run the risk of not publishing due to space and time limitations.
Sometimes, it may take us a few days to respond to a letter submission, and/or publish your item, mainly due to space or time issues. But we do try to run as many opinions as possible — while still reserving the right to limit opinions on a certain topic, or for multiple submissions from the same author.
Items should be emailed for consideration a week previous (or more) of desired publication date. The hard deadline is Friday noon for Wednesday’s print edition (Sun), and Monday noon for both the Thursday (Bonanza) and Friday (Sun) editions.
This last point has been criticized by some readers who’ve really wanted an opinion piece published in print before a public hearing, or for other time-sensitive reasons.
In a perfect world, I’d run them all as fast as I can and pack our pages with as much as possible. These days, however, as we continually embrace the digital world and engage audiences beyond those who read print, we plan our editions several days in advance.
In a nutshell — whether election-related or not — we do our best to get most opinions published, although some may be online-only if deadlines are missed, or space is at a premium.
And speaking of elections, this year the Sun will again publish a local candidate guide online Friday, Oct. 21, and in print (as space allows) Wednesday, Oct. 26. In it, we’ll feature short bios and statements for candidates in the following races: Truckee Tahoe Airport District, North Tahoe Fire Protection District, Truckee Fire Protection District, Tahoe Forest Hospital District, North Tahoe PUD, Tahoe City PUD, Truckee Donner PUD and the Squaw Valley PSD.
As for the Bonanza, look for similar content online Oct. 21, and in print (as space allows) Thursday, Oct. 27, for the following races: Incline Village General Improvement District, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Washoe County Commission (Seat. No. 1) and Washoe County School District, At-Large Seat G.
In the meantime, should you have any questions about the above, don’t hesitate to email me to discuss.
Kevin MacMillan is managing editor of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.