Effective immediately, The The Montevideo American-News will begin charging for political endorsement letters.

Effective immediately, The The Montevideo American-News will begin charging for political endorsement letters.

Our decision to charge for such letters is in line which policy changes adopted by newspapers across the country. Newspapers such as the Alexandria Free Press have already had this policy for several years, while other papers under the the RiverTown Multimedia umbrella in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin announced that they would also charge for political endorsements last week. The Willmar West Central Tribune has also announced that they will now  be charging for such letters.

The primary reason cited by newspapers that adopt this policy is that political campaigns increasingly abuse the purpose and intent of editorial pages. Newspapers also struggle to cope with the inundation of campaign letters, especially around election time. Although we welcome and celebrate the free exchange of ideas, campaigns often turn to professional writers to push campaign talking-points in what amounts to free advertising.

The new policy will also help the Montevideo American-News be fair and consistent in how we make editorial decisions regarding letters to the editors.

The new policy reads: “Election-related letters to the editor, advocating for or against a candidate, ballot measure or political party will be considered ads and are subject to a charge of $25 for the first 7 inches and $10 for each additional inch thereafter.

“As with other letters to the editor, they must be submitted with the writers name, address, and phone number (only the writer’s name and city are published).”

The editorial staff retain the right to reject any letter that doesn’t meet our publishing standards and will decide whether a letter is subject to the fee. The writer will then have the option to either publish or retract the letter.

The new fee structure is below normal business advertising rates.

The paid political endorsement letters may or may not appear on the Opinion page, and will be identified as such.