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Our View: Guidelines for election letters and Viewpoints

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Like many newspapers around the country, the Woodbury Bulletin is receiving a steady number of 2008 election-related e-mails containing press releases, letters and columns -- as well as the occasional piece of "snail mail" -- from candidates and/or their supporters, extolling the virtues of respective office seekers.

We're also getting just as many "non-fan" letters, the ones that don't speak quite as highly of the various contenders.

You should know that the Bulletin will enforce a few rules about election-related letters, opinion columns and press releases. Here are our guidelines, which have been in effect since early August, that will be in place up to the Nov. 4 election:

Letters/Viewpoints from candidates

• Candidates will be limited to one letter or Viewpoint, unless they are responding to accusations raised in another writer's letter or column. Any negative allegation leveled against a candidate will require documentation before it is published.

• Letters/Viewpoints submitted by candidates will be limited to 600 words. Frankly, the average reader who encounters a wordy political dissertation's sea of gray newsprint will tend to skip it altogether rather than muddle through it.

• Aside from their single letter and any responses, in most cases candidates' press releases during the campaign won't be published. If we think it is "real" news, we will publicize it.

• Endorsement announcements of candidates by special interest groups will not be published.

• Political fundraisers will not be covered as news, although pre-event announcements may be printed.

Letters about candidates

• Letters regarding candidates, either pro or con, should be limited to 200 words. Correspondences of this type that exceed the limit may be edited -- or rejected outright -- for publication.

• All letters to the editor must be signed. Any anonymous letters will be immediately discarded. For verification purposes, letters must also include the writer's daytime telephone number and their mailing address.

• In order that we may hear from as many people as possible, there will be a limit of one endorsement letter per candidate from the same writer.

• Form letters will be trashed, mainly because they're a really lazy way to express opinions about candidates. Be original -- write your own letter.

• The Bulletin will print letters the week before the election. However, if a letter intended for the Oct. 29 edition makes accusations against a candidate or party, it will not be published because there would be insufficient time for a response to appear in newsprint prior to election day.

Questions or concerns not specifically covered by these guidelines regarding letters, Viewpoints or press releases, from candidates or other authors, will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

We want the Woodbury Bulletin to be a venue for open, lively and fair debate on topics related to the upcoming election. Likewise, we hope these guidelines will inspire readers and candidates to write intelligent, thought-provoking letters.

Make your opinions known

To submit a letter to the editor, use one of these methods:

• E-mail it to editor@woodburybulletin.com

• Send it by U.S. Mail to Woodbury Bulletin, 8420 City Centre Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125

• Fax it to (651)702-0977

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