Local cartoons offend readers who criticize lack of evidence, authorship; policies changed

By Polly Lynn Mikula
In last week’s edition, Sept. 21-27, an advertised political cartoon was published that offended many readers. While the cartoon (in addition to all letters and op-eds we publish) does NOT necessarily reflect the opinion of the newspaper or any of its staff members, many readers and businesses were confused about this distinction. For this reason we find it necessary to offer an explanation and update on our policies.
First, policies for submitted content differ from advertising. Submitted content must be authored because we believe that accountability makes for responsible debate. All submissions are printed at the editor’s discretion. Advertisements, on the other hand, are taken for a fee and responsibility of the content resides with the advertiser as along as they do not libel another person or institution.
Second, as a policy we do not censor or discriminate against advertisers or opinion submissions (letters or op-eds) based on their political points of view — for example: ads, letters and op-eds from both Democrats and Republicans have an equal opportunity to appear in the Mountain Times.
That being said, we understand why folks were offended by last week’s political cartoon which ran as a paid advertisement on the opinion pages. The cartoon was a jab at the KPAA and specific businesses without offering facts or explanation, which is the main problem with political cartoons as a genre.
Since publishing last week’s political cartoon paid for by Jim Haff, I have spoken to and researched other local paper’s policies on this matter. Many, including the Addison Independent and Seven Days, have run into similar opposition to local political cartoons in the past and, therefore, rarely include them, opting instead to have articulated debates about local issues through letters to the editor.
Moving forward we will adopt that same policy of not publishing local cartoons and instead encourage our readers to articulate their opposition or support for town policies, local issues and/or comments to the Mountain Times via letters to the editor and/or op-eds.
The opinion page of the Mountain Times will remain an open forum for our community where all viewpoints can be articulated. As has always been, the opinions expressed there do NOT necessarily reflect the opinion of the newspaper or any of its staff members. The only exception to this is when we label an opinion expressly as an “editorial.”

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