Brian Blackley

Last week an oversight occurred in The Tullahoma News and we want to set the record straight.

During this feisty Tullahoma mayoral election season, there has been a covering or a “flap” over a portion of the front page, paid for by a candidate for mayor. That flap covers the left-hand side of the front and is designed and produced like every other page in the paper – as a single page unto itself.

Separately, the front page is designed. Little or no thought is given to the flap by our front page designers, as different people are responsible for different pages and the various aspects of producing those pages. In short, they’re separate from one another.

Here’s what happened. Last Wednesday, the flap covered a portion of an ad for another candidate that was on the front page. Either in a stroke of cleverness on the part of the campaign that designed the front page ad or in a weird case of happenstance, the ad underneath the flap showed the words “Tullahoma News endorsing” and then the name of a candidate. Of course, folding back the flap, you see that it’s a paid political ad and the complete text is quite different when viewed in full. It wasn’t noticed on the layout board because, again, pages are designed separately from one another. The first sighting of the issue would have been when the paper was coming off the press.

Our terrific press crew does a great job of running the press and managing all the moving parts, but, and I say this with all respect for the amazing work they do, they are not editors. They’re pressmen. They often catch bad datelines or wrong page numbers, but they’re looking to make sure color lines up, not at what context shows up underneath an ad.

So it slipped through.

We apologize to the other mayoral candidates and to the community for this oversight and we want to use this space to set the record straight.

We do not endorse candidates in local elections. Whatever our past policy has been, we’re not willing to side with any one candidate over another in a local race. This newspaper is a vehicle for news and advertising, and we want to be impartial and fair to all candidates. Some of them have spent money with us, and we’d be hypocrites if we took a stand either way. We could rightly be said to either be pandering to our advertisers or biting the hand that feeds us depending on whatever endorsement we made. We think it’s our role to report what is happening and run the ads the campaigns pay us to produce. After all, that is our business; it’s what we do.

In the case of the front page flap, we acknowledge the oversight and we take responsibility for it. And in that vein, we are denouncing any perception of any endorsement of any candidate in Tullahoma’s mayoral race on the part of The Tullahoma News.

We want what’s best for the people of Tullahoma, and while there are differing opinions on what that is both among members of the community and our staff here, we will stand behind and support whomever wins this race as best we can while holding them accountable to the people of the city. We do that because we believe in the will of the people. We trust the election process. We believe in the residents of Tullahoma, and we stand with them to make Tullahoma strong and to help our city continue to thrive and prosper.

Signed,

Brian Blackley, Publisher

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