Column: Endorsements are ads, so we'll treat them as such

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Our opinion pages have been overwhelmed by campaigns promoting or taking to task candidates, political parties and referendum measures during past campaign seasons. Many of the letters read like advertisements because they were advertisements.

So during the runs up to the Jan. 16 Wisconsin Senate District 10 and the Feb. 12 Minnesota Senate District 54 special elections this year, RiverTown Multimedia papers tested a policy to charge fee for such endorsements. People quickly adjusted and now the policy is in place for the 2018 primary and general elections.

This will be a big change for Red Wing Republican Eagle readers, but there are a couple of key benefits.

• As any race wears on, writers tend to submit letters that repeat what others have said. In the past, we rejected or severely edited these "echoes." Now writers can reiterate points made in previous paid endorsement letters as often as they choose.

• Writers no longer are limited to a single endorsement letter for or against a certain candidate or the ballot issue. A writer could run three letters, for example, explaining three reasons for how he or she intends to vote.

• There also is no word limit. If you want to write more, you'll pay more.

These letters will be clearly identified as paid endorsements and appear on the pages immediately following the opinion page. They also will appear online.

To place an endorsement letter, go to https://classifieds2.forumcomm.com/forumcele/WFCategoryClassification.aspx

• Select the "Political Letters" icon, then select "Next." Note: You do not need to create an account.

• Click "More Packages" until you reach RiverTown Zone B. Select this and your letter will appear in the Eagle and the Pierce County Herald.

• You then may enter your headline, your name and town, and type your letter.

• Finally, follow the steps to payment. You'll pay $15 for 7 column inches or approximately 125 words.

If you don't have internet access or if you prefer, you are welcome to mail or to drop your letter and payment off at our office, 2760 North Service Drive, Red Wing, MN 55066. The deadline is noon Monday for publication in the Wednesday edition and 3 p.m. Wednesday for the weekend edition. Our intention is to have any letters published in the Eagle's weekend papers appear the following Wednesday in the Herald.

Please note the policy applies only to letters that endorse or criticize candidates and ballot questions.

We urge you to write traditional letters to the editor about issues that focus on pertinent, timely concerns. We also will continue to run opinions that might praise or criticize the potential actions coming before local, state and national elected bodies. We need citizens to be vocal and involved.

And, as always, we welcome your opinions.