OF POLITICAL ADVERTISING. Newspaper publishers do try to prevent the use of advertising for political ambushes. They try to block eleventh-hour attack ads, whose timing prevents the target from mounting an effective response. But some preventive policies are poorly conceived.
Mr Cotten pointed that out recently, in a letter to Roger Coleman, publisher of Hudson Valley Newspapers. “Your policy on political ads,” he said, “makes no sense.” The rule is that copy for all political advertisements must be submitted by the last Thursday before a Tuesday voting day AND that those ‘final’ ads be re-runs of previous messages. One consequence of that policy, Mr Cotten pointed out, would be that a new “Vote Today!” ad suitable only for polling day would be unacceptable. Worse yet, if Candidate A submits an attack ad on the ‘final’ pre-election Wednesday, for publication on Thursday or afterward, his opponent is precluded by the publisher’s rules from mounting a retort. If he submits his reply by the end of the day on the final pre-election Thursday, it would be fresh material and hence would be unacceptable. “Thus,” says Mr Cotten to Mr Coleman, “your rule makes no sense”; “it does not meet your stated goal of preventing last-minute attack ads.”
A “more compatible system,” says Mr Cotten, would be to notify all candidates that all their contemplated advertisements must be submitted no later than seven days before an election. On that ‘final’ day, all candidates are invited to review each others’ ads and, if they wish, to prepare, within 24 hours, “counter-ads.” “If they don’t come in and review the Ads, then that is their choice.”
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MAUL NOTES. “MAN HOLDS REAL ESTATE HOSTAGE OFFICE FOR 3 HOURS” = top page-one headline,