General Advertising Policy

Newspapers have almost total freedom to regulate themselves and generally may deny particular advertisements for any reason, or no reason at all. Whether the advertisement is purely commercial or involves a noncommercial public issue, the First Amendment creates no obligation for a newspaper to publish every advertisement that is offered.

Given the freedom to evaluate and limit the types of advertisements that are published, many newspapers go beyond the requirements of law and impose additional internal policies on the acceptance of advertisements. Such policies serve many purposes, including permitting the newspaper to control its own image by refusing advertisements that readers may regard as inappropriate and helping the newspaper avoid legal liability for particularly risky types of solicitation.

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The PRT limits advertisers to those based in Santa Cruz County and the surrounding communities that serve our readers.

The PRT may decline to accept advertising that is misleading, inaccurate or fraudulent; that makes unfair competitive claims; or that fails to comply with its standards of decency and dignity. In addition, an advertisement must sometimes be declined because of the applicability of laws dealing with such matters as libel, copyright and trademark, the right to privacy, the sale of securities, the sale of real estate and political advertising.

The PRT maintains clear separation between news and editorial matter and its advertisements. Accordingly, ads that include elements usually associated with editorial matter will not be accepted (for example, but not limited to: headlines, bylines, news-style column arrangements or typography). Additionally, The PRT reserves the right to label an advertisement with the word “advertisement” when, in its opinion, this is necessary to make clear the distinction between editorial material and advertising.

Advertisements that, in our opinion, simulate PRT news or editorial matter or that may be confused with our news or editorial matter are unacceptable. The difference between editorial content and marketing messages must be transparent. In borderline cases, an advertisement will be slugged with the word “ADVERTISEMENT.” Keep in mind, however, that the use of the slug, by itself, is not sufficient if the overall appearance of the advertisement tends to confuse the reader. The rule of thumb is this: if it confuses, it’s unacceptable. 

Each advertisement must be judged on its own merits: we do not evaluate advertisements comparatively. This means that copy and illustrations found acceptable in one context may be found unacceptable in another. Advertisements that are, in the opinion of the PRT, indecent, vulgar, suggestive or otherwise offensive to good taste are unacceptable. Taste is judgment in which time, place and context make vital differences. Each advertisement must, therefore, be judged on its own merits. In this respect, the task of determining the acceptability of advertising is more an art than a science.

The PRT makes no judgments on an advertiser’s arguments, factual assertions or conclusions. We accept advocacy/opinion advertisements regardless of our editorial position on any given subject. We do not, however, accept advocacy advertisements that are attacks of a personal nature, that seek to comment on private disputes or that contain vulgar or indecent language. We do not accept advertisements that are gratuitously offensive on racial, religious or ethnic grounds or that we feel to be in poor taste. We do not verify, nor do we vouch for, statements of purported fact in advocacy/opinion advertisements. We reserve the right, however, to require documentation of factual claims when it is deemed necessary. In addition, we do not accept advocacy advertisements that promote illegal activities or actions. We do not accept ads that are libelous or might be legally actionable.

Advertisements that include photographs of individuals or the names of individuals as signatories, or which state or imply that named individuals support or endorse the messages, must be accompanied by a signed release wherein the sponsors certify that no one’s name or photograph has been used in the advertisements without his or her consent. The sponsor’s name must be in the advertisement. If the advertiser is not known to our readers, the sponsor’s mailing address or telephone number, email address or Web site address (that leads to direct contact with the advertiser) must appear in the advertisement.

Note: Political advertisers should refer to the Patagonia Regional Times Policy on Political Advertising.

Political Advertising Policy

The Patagonia Regional Times does not endorse candidates for political office. We do accept political advertising, as a business transaction, from all candidates for any public office and from all registered political committees and organizations supporting or opposing such candidates or ballot measures related to our coverage area. We also accept public issue advertising related to issues that affect our coverage area. Political ads will not be discounted and must be paid in advance.

We believe that political advertising can and does inform voters, and our publication is committed to fairness and freedom of expression.

We follow generally accepted journalistic policies, and all candidates have equal opportunities to advertise. An advertisement will be considered political if it involves a political figure, party or government issue, regardless of whether an election is taking place. As a neutral platform, we welcome political advertisements regardless of the political views they represent. Because of the necessity to maintain a clear separation between news and advertising content, any advertisement that we believe blurs this distinction will be declined. The Patagonia Regional Times reserves the right to decline to accept any advertisements that we deem are inflammatory, libellous or in bad taste. The ad must contain a line that identifies who has paid for the ad.

The Patagonia Regional Times will post, at no charge, this disclaimer on or adjacent to all political advertising banners: “The Patagonia Regional Times does not endorse political candidates, specific legislation or ballot measures.”

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