Friday, April 16, 2004
Readers question political ad policy
Political advertising policy was the hottest issue on the minds of Mosquito readers who attended the annual editorial review last Monday. Four Carlisle residents joined the board of directors of Carlisle Communications, Inc., the non-profit parent organization that publishes the Carlisle Mosquito, to offer suggestions and criticisms of content and policies of the newspaper.
Tim Hult of Audubon Lane, Cynthia Schweppe of School Street and Debbie Bentley of Heald Road all objected to a "misleading" political ad, opposed to the Benfield Parcel A purchase, published immediately before the Special Town Meeting (March 19, page 9), which suggested that a ballfield on the Benfield Parcel A will have chain-link fencing and night lighting. "The issue was significantly divisive," said Hult. "[The Mosquito] should have the insight to know that this is not right."
Mosquito editors stated they were not comfortable making that judgment. Board member Bret Bero objected to "trying to restrict free speech ... If you edit an ad, you would have to state that you edited it." Member Bob Orlando suggested that readers have responsibilty to evaluate content. "Do you believe everything you read in an ad?" he asked. Current Mosquito policy is to label political ads clearly, but offer no guarantee that the content is factually correct. The board will review the policy in the fall.
Schweppe also suggested that the Mosquito cover State House issues that have direct impact on town budgets. Betty McCullough of Mill Pond Lane would like to see a wider range of points of view on important issues, perhaps as "On the other hand...." commentaries by citizens.
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