A FREDS GUNS advertisement on Page A10 Sunday contained a message saying “Vote on I-1639.” It didn’t reflect the advertiser’s wishes. FREDS Guns had intended the ad to read “Vote No on I-1639.”
The result failed FREDS Guns and failed our community.
How did it happen?
Initiative 1639 is a statewide gun regulation measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, so asking readers to vote no on it is a political statement.
Paid political advertisements cost more than the discounted rate given contract advertisers.
The reason the Peninsula Daily News (PDN) and other Olympic Peninsula News Group publications charge one rate for political advertising is to protect small businesses and individuals by ensuring that no one has an unfair advantage in expressing political views.
The objective is to level the playing field.
The contracted FREDS Guns ad was set to run in Sunday’s paper when the owners added a last-hour element — a message saying “Vote No on I-1639”— which was approved by FREDS Guns owners.
After adding the element to the ad, our advertising staff realized it changed its nature from standard advertising to political.
Staff members then sent FREDS Guns a new version of the ad with the word “No” removed so that it read “Vote on I-1639,” thus conforming to the advertiser’s contracted program.
No response was received.
The decision was made to run the ad with the compromise change without approval.
That was a mistake.
It fell short of the goal of good customer service.
The result was an understandable response from many in the community who interpreted the change as reflective of PDN opinion.
That wasn’t our intent.
Our standard as a newspaper, both in advertising and editorial content, is to bring the community all points of view.
It has never been our intent to put words into anyone’s mouth.
In our coverage of Clallam and Jefferson counties, we serve readers with a wide spectrum of ideas.
For example in the last presidential election, a majority of Clallam County voters opted for the Republican candidate — 47.63 percent to 44.8 percent for the Democratic candidate — while in Jefferson County, the majority voted for the Democratic candidate — 62.42 percent to 29.77 percent for the Republican candidate.
These viewpoints — and others — are reflected by PDN, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum staff because we are part of the fabric of our communities.
Although we are made up of many individuals with different political opinions, we hold to a standard of professional objectivity.
That means offering a variety of opinions on our Commentary Page and information in our news pages, while we deliver the messages of our advertising clients.
We failed in our mission in the FREDS Guns ad and we apologize.
— Publisher Terry Ward, General Manager Steve Perry, Executive Editor Leah Leach, Advertising Director Eran Kennedy, Circulation Director Michelle Lynn, Sequim Gazette Editor Michael Dashiell, Managing Editor Michael Foster