The Coastal Star

Editor’s Note: How we approach election coverage

It’s election season. Learn about your candidates and be sure to vote.
I wish it were that simple. It never is. This year the battles are already heating up and the mud of misinformation is getting thick. As a result, I’d like to clarify a few things about The Coastal Star:
• We don’t do candidate endorsements. Never have. Never will.
• This month there are campaign signs in front of our office. We didn’t put them there. Our landlord has allowed them and we made it clear all Ocean Ridge candidates are welcome to place their signs in the easement.
• Although a lot of information is passed along to the newspaper, we don’t write about it without verification. We use news judgment to decide what to pursue, but are less likely to chase anonymous tips.
• We have an editorial policy of not publishing articles that might be detrimental to a candidate in the month of the election, because it’s impossible for a candidate to respond in our pages if he or she believes we’ve made a mistake. Stories first reported in the daily news media, however, we will follow— if we think the information is of value to voters.
• We do our own public records requests. No one does these for us. We also pay our own legal bills.
• There are three principal owner/partners of The Coastal Star: myself, publisher Jerry Lower and sales manager Chris Bellard. Lower and I live and vote in Ocean Ridge. Bellard lives and votes in Delray Beach. We do not contribute to local candidates, nor do we campaign for them. You won’t see us at “meet the candidate” events. We take salaries from the newspaper and believe the integrity of our publication is at stake if we allow our personal preferences to show.
We do vote, of course; that’s our constitutional right.
• The other owners of The Coastal Star, Delray Beach residents Price and Carolyn Patton, are minority investors in our newspaper. They have long been politically active in Delray Beach and contribute to local campaigns. They do not draw salaries and are not involved in story selection or placement and do not play a role in our day-to-day operation.
• The other people who work with us are independent contractors, not employees. They do not make editorial decisions at the newspaper. If they want to work on campaigns, put yard signs up or have bumper stickers on their cars, they have the right to do that.
We do our best to cover elections fairly and accurately. Nothing in our approach has changed since The Coastal Star began.
Unfortunately, this year our newspaper is being misrepresented around town and on social media. Some of these uninformed postings can be written off as the general blood sport of local election politics; others are blatant attempts to undermine our reporting.
We stand by our reporting. That’s the bottom line. In light of today’s “fake news” environment, I believe we must not only be accurate and fair in our reporting, but we must also be transparent in how we conduct our business. I hope this helps explain how our newspaper approaches local elections.
If you have questions, email me at news@thecoastalstar.com.
You’ll find candidate profiles and related stories here: South Palm Beach, Ocean Ridge, Delray Beach, Highland Beach and Boca Raton.
Get to know your candidates and on March 13, go out and vote.

— Mary Kate Leming,
Editor

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