It is just a political ad
Just like the signs you see on every street corner, the billboard on the outskirts of town and what seems like every other front yard in Woodcreek, it is a political ad.
It is the political season. You will see plenty more over the next few months and prepare to see more on the front page of the Wimberley View. In this case, at least you have the good fortune of being able to peel the sticker off the page if you want.
Deciding when to run or not run an ad is a difficult decision and is one that we don’t take lightly. When it comes to political ads, the Biden Harris sticker on the front page of last week’s Wimberley View was pretty easy to approve. After all, the only two words on the ad, besides the disclaimer about who paid for it, were the last names of the Democratic nominees for president and vice president. If someone would like to pay to put “Trump 2020” on there, we’ll give you the next available spot.
This was in no way an endorsement by the Wimberley View of either side. In my six years at the helm of this paper, we have never endorsed a candidate in any election local or nation. This year is no different.
But, after dozens of phone calls and emails complaining about the ad, we had some long and honest conversations about whether we should ban political advertisement on the front page of the paper. We have run political ads in this exact space before, but this year does seem different in many ways. It was worth a full-throated discussion. We came to the conclusion that banning political ads on the front page would be an overreaction and would push the limits that we have already put on advertisement too far. I’m sure we will continue to discuss this decision in the coming days, weeks and months as we continue to have an open dialog with our readers.
We spend a lot of time trying to balance the ability of people to speak in the pages of our newspaper with the careful control of curating appropriate content. We have the constitutional right to decide what graces the pages of the newspaper. This isn’t Facebook where you can say whatever you want about whoever you want and hit send. We have an editing process, and we decide what we are comfortable publishing. We also have a public duty to do so fairly and to allow for as much latitude towards free speech as we deem possible.
In the run up to this election, it became pretty obvious that tensions were high and people were going to try and use the pages of the newspaper as a way to spread their political opinion. We encourage people to do so, but we decided we were going to put some pretty firm lines in place this year to make sure we weren’t adding fuel to the fire of name calling and mudslinging you see all over social media.
So we decided that we would not be running any ad we felt was inflammatory. We have turned down a few on both sides of the aisle so far, and I expect we will turn down quite a few more before November 3.
But that made this decision to allow the Biden Harris sticker on the front page pretty straight forward. The ad was not inflammatory. It passed our editorial review. I would expect to see more in the future. And if you don’t like it, feel free to peel it off. After all, it is just a political ad.