Editor’s Column: Things we shouldn’t have to explain, and yet, here we are

Niki Turner

Purchasing advertising is similar to buying an airline seat, or renting a hotel room or getting a table at a popular restaurant. You make a reservation and then that seat or room or table is held for you. In some cases, you have to pay in full in advance, or make a deposit.

When you want to advertise, you reserve space (before deadline) in accordance with your ad budget. Some ads, like the ones on the front page, are what’s referred to as “prime real estate” in the newspaper business. They cost more per column inch and there’s a limited number of them. Ads found within the paper, excluding those in the classified section, are referred to as “ROP,” or run-of-paper. Unless an advertiser requests specific placement on a particular page (for which there is an extra 15 percent charge), ads are placed randomly. If you’ve ever been on a deadline, you’ll understand what I mean by “randomly.” No emotion, opinion, or personal preference goes into where ROP ads land, it’s a matter of making sure everyone fits somewhere before the pages go to the printer.

Political advertising is treated the same way, except we don’t solicit political ads. Candidates come to us. A paid advertisement, regardless of where it ends up in the paper, is not indicative of our endorsement of a candidate just like running an ad for a particular brand doesn’t indicate our endorsement of that brand.

As per our policy, the newspaper does not endorse candidates. As our readers have seen during the last few months, we provide editorial space (for free, by the way) to candidates who are running for an office. The Q&A for the rec district board was worth nearly $800 of print space, just to give you an idea. Last week’s Q&A with the two Republican candidates was worth $850 in paid advertising space, as well, at no charge to either candidate. We also provide editorial space (again, for free) for letters to the editor from the candidates or from their supporters, as you’ll see in this edition.

In my opinion, political advertising—as much as we appreciate the revenue—is not how we, as citizens, should make our voting decisions. Our ballot choices should be made in accordance with what we know about the candidates professionally and personally: their platforms, their ethics, their experience, and the skills and values we sincerely believe they will bring to the office they seek.

Paid political advertising serves the same purpose as a front yard campaign  sign: name recognition. It has no bearing on a candidate’s integrity, ethics, or how they treat the people they interact with on a daily basis. Those are the things we have to ferret out for ourselves as voters, because it’s those attributes that will determine what kind of elected official that person will be.

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Bullies don’t just exist on the elementary school playground, they grow up, and they tend to still be bullies. I don’t know if their parents didn’t teach them any better or if their parents were bullies, too.

Signs of adult bullying? Adult bullies won’t let you finish a sentence. They don’t listen when you attempt to respond to their accusations. Their ultimate goal is to be heard, not to hear. They have no desire for reconciliation or—heaven forbid—compromise. Graciousness (being merciful and compassionate) is not in their vocabulary. Adult bullies deny, defy and sometimes outright lie in their efforts to defend their indefensible positions. In their opinion, they are right and therefore no one else can be. And they’re prone to temper tantrums. There are few things more pitiful than watching a grown man or woman have a temper tantrum because he or she didn’t get their way.

I had a bully neighbor when I was 3. My parents advised me to punch him in the nose. Being an obedient sort of child at that age, I did. He never bothered me again. Unfortunately, punching adult bullies in the nose isn’t generally an option, since they do most of their bullying now through the safety of the telephone, email, social media and (the most yellow-bellied method of all) gossip and backbiting, and they are the most likely to become litigious if you cross them.

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Some good news for the newspaper industry in Colorado this week (finally!): Governor Hickenlooper vetoed HB-156. You’ll still be able to access the county’s disbursements in public notices in your local newspaper. You won’t have to have an internet connection and be web savvy to check up on the spending of your county officials, for at least another year.

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All our HT stringers and staffers were otherwise engaged last weekend (and none of us have mastered the ability to be in two places at once)  during the annual Fishing Derby at Kenney Reservoir last week. We’ve been told the event went well, but as of press time have not received photos or results. Maybe next week.