It?s not all free in the Free Press

After more than 13 years in business, we still have people asking how we can publish and distribute a newspaper at no charge. Let?s just say it has been Christmas in Marion County, and a few areas beyond county lines, every week since Aug. 12, 1998.

More seriously, though, the paper comes to you free each week solely on advertising revenue. Without the advertising support we would not be in business. And we sometimes get the impression that some people think that in a newspaper called the Free Press everything should be free.

In the broader sense, the ?Free? in Free Press refers to freedom of speech. It would make everything much easier if everything was free but that only works when your parents are paying the bills.

Many times we will get an e-mail or hear the statement that indicates the item being turned in for publication is intended for free news and not as an ad.

Basically, all news printed in the newspaper is at the discretion of the editor. How it is written is up to the editorial department. If the item is to be printed exactly as submitted, then the better choice for the person submitting the item would be a paid advertisement, where that person determines the content.

What follows is a guide to what we believe to be free, and what is not, since our Daily Life section news seems to be the area where the most clarification is needed. The policy for social news?such as births, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, etc?is more widely understood.

In regard to news announcements, the Daily Life section exists to build a sense of community by providing succinct information regarding events deemed to be of interest and value to readers within our distribution area.

As an editorial service, we do not charge for the information that appears in these news items. (In most all cases, we do charge for an accompanying photo, which would be sized according to editorial discretion.) All items in Daily Life will be edited according to journalistic style and judgment. These items will appear in print one time, except in unusual circumstances as determined by the editor.

Items that qualify for Daily Life (news) include announcements of:

(1) Regular and special meetings of tax-supported entities (schools, city, county, etc.).

(2) Approaching community blood drives.

(3) Fundraisers for service organizations and institutions that serve the broader community, or are directly connected to public schools.

(4) Church events of community interest beyond traditional weekly services and programs (i.e. notable speakers, themes, etc.). Exception: Events intended primarily for spiritual outreach/renewal.

(5) Upcoming cultural/educational events offered by our public schools or Tabor College.

(6) Major events and programs of our public and private schools (i.e., graduations, parent night).

(7) Events and programs sponsored by public libraries.

(8) Services offered by public entities to address the needs of children and families.

Items that do not qualify for Daily Life (news) include announcements of:

(1) Special events?grand openings, product promotions, etc.?sponsored by for-profit businesses.

(2) Gatherings of non-profit groups, organizations and institutions that feature for-profit presenters with a reasonable expectation of merchandise sales.

(3) Church-sponsored events intended as a fundraiser for general operations.

(4) Church-sponsored events intended primarily for spiritual outreach/renewal (includes VBS programs).

(5) Family reunions (prior to, or after).

(6) Holiday closure of public offices/services, institutions or businesses.

Since there is no way to cover every possible scenario, ultimately the editor will make the final call. While we understand the attraction of free exposure, keep in mind that a paid ad can draw more attention to an event and provides the opportunity to give more detail and prominence to certain portions of the message by the way it is designed.

In the end, advertising pays the way for our free community weekly to be produced and delivered to more than 6,000 homes each week plus an additional 1,000 to area businesses, convenience stores, nursing homes and other high-traffic areas.

If you wish to share your comments or ideas, my e-mail address is joel@hillsborofreepress.com.

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