LFTE: Ads in our paper don’t mean endorsement

Forrest Czarnecki and Austin Fleskes

Dear readers,

You may have noticed in some recent editions of the newspaper and on The Collegian website there have been a lot of Mike Bloomberg political advertisements.

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In the paper they are hard to miss — they take up the entire third page, a space that typically delivers campus news and advertises a local business. The Bloomberg ads are found across our website and are even appearing in our newsletter, The Stump

As the independent news source for Colorado State University students, faculty and the Fort Collins community, we want to make one thing clear: We don’t endorse Mike Bloomberg or any other political candidate who advertises with us. 

Our role is to serve the community as an unbiased news outlet. This means we will not be taking any sort of political stance, endorsing any candidates or pushing for ballot measures during this election cycle. Doing so would compromise our position as an independent and unbiased publication.

We also understand that there may be a question of “How can they be an unbiased news source if they are running advertisements for a certain political candidate?” We want to take a moment to answer that and provide you with a little insight into how advertisements are separate from the news we print. 

Even though Bloomberg’s campaign has purchased an ad in our paper and on our website, it doesn’t mean we are endorsing him for the nomination, presidency or any other political endeavor.

Funding The Collegian requires some financial input from outside sources that purchase ads. This usually looks like advertisements from local liquor businesses, classified ads for bicycles and even the occasional personal announcement. All of the funds generated from selling those ads go toward printing the paper and paying students at Rocky Mountain Student Media for their work. 

A large portion of the newspaper advertisement funding is from local businesses, such as Covenant Tattoo and C&C Liquor, among many others. But our ad space isn’t limited to tattoo parlors and liquor stores — almost anyone can advertise with us, as long as they are willing to pay for the space and follow some guidelines developed by our advertising department. 

One important thing to note here is that our advertising department is completely separate from the editorial side of the paper, which writes and photographs the news you read. The advertising department has no affiliation or control over the editorial department. This is what makes us an independent news outlet. 

While most people and businesses can take out an ad with The Collegian, there are a few rules they need to follow. Here’s an abbreviated version of the rules: 

According to Collegian advertising policies, all advertising, underwriting and public service announcements should:

  • “(Be) truthful and make an honest effort to be as accurate as possible, such as in the portrayal of the products or services being sold or offered and in the assertions of fact in political or similar ads. Ads or underwriting that are potentially libelous, demonstrate careless disregard for the truth or malicious intent or invade privacy shall not be accepted.”
  • “(Be) devoid of sexual exploitation or derogatory comments.”
  • “Avoid encouraging destructive behavior to oneself or others, or encourage participation in illegal behavior or acts.”
  • “Not promote alcohol or drug use, pornographic movies or related material and prostitution or any pornographic services.”

While there is a general list of rules when it comes to advertisements, underwritings and PSAs for the newspaper, there are even more specific guidelines for inserts and political advertising. 

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According to the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation’s advertising and underwriting policies, all political advertising must not imitate The Collegian style or format. 

All inserts that may be confusing to readers and could be construed as Collegian editorial content must state, in at least 18-point font: “The content of this paid political advertising supplement is the sole responsibility of the political sponsor and does not imply an endorsement by The Collegian, its staff or Colorado State University.” 

Pages with political ads must also state that content is a “paid political or advertising supplement.”

So as long as the Bloomberg campaign continues to follow our advertising rules, they can run an ad in our paper or on our website. In fact, any political candidate can do this as long as they stick to the rules within The Collegian’s advertising and underwriting policies. 

Part of our jobs as journalists is to be transparent with our audiences, and it’s pretty common for politicians to run ads with news outlets. The Collegian is no different, and we wanted to acknowledge the difference between our advertisements and news. We strive to serve our readers as best we can, and one way to do that is being transparent and acknowledging any potentially misleading or confusing content. 

We wanted to touch base with our readers to make sure that you all understood where we stood. We don’t endorse any political candidates, and we will remain an unbiased news outlet, serving the campus and Fort Collins communities. 

Sincerely, 

Forrest Czarnecki, editor-in-chief 

Austin Fleskes, managing editor

Forrest Czarnecki and Austin Fleskes can be reached at editor@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.