2020 Election Season — Letters Policy


The 2020 Election Letters Policy

From now through Nov. 3, our newspapers welcome letters about the 2020 election, the races and issues of local public interest. While we may accept letters about the U.S. Presidential race, we want to encourage and prioritize all letters that are local to the communities we cover. These will always be given priority in our newspapers and on our website.

For candidates - Newspapers

  • Throughout the campaign season, we will NOT publish letters from candidates.
  • We are NOT accepting Political Statements from candidates.
  • Candidates are welcome to submit press releases about campaign events that are open to the public.

For candidates - EastBayRI.com

  • In August, we will be launching a new feature on our website that outlines all races and candidates. It will be a permanent fixture on our home page through Nov. 3.
  • Every candidate will be invited to create her or his own profile and upload a photograph. This will be a free service for every candidate.
  • Candidates will “own” the profile themselves and have the opportunity to enhance their profile (statements, videos, links, etc.) for a fee.

For readers

  • Readers are welcome to submit letters about the election and the races.
  • We WILL NOT publish letters of pure endorsement for candidates. We reserve the right to reject letters even if they talk about a local issue but overtly convey a “please vote for [insert candidate]” type of message.
  • Letters can focus on candidates, both for or against, if the subject is relevant to how a voter might form an opinion about that candidate. This is a subjective publishing decision that will be unique to each letter, based on its own context and message. Here are examples:
      1. A letter describes an extraordinary grassroots campaign that this candidate led and how it made a difference in her community … This is likely to be published.
      2. A letter lists the 12 civic organizations that a candidate belongs to … This is likely to be rejected.
      3. A letter criticizes the way an incumbent candidate voted on an important issue … This is likely to be published.
      4. A letter criticizes a candidate for having a messy yard and being a bad neighbor … This is likely to be rejected.
  • We also may reject letters if we feel there is a coordinated campaign (for example, by a single political party) to submit a series of letters on similar or redundant topics.
  • In all cases where we reject or cannot publish a letter as written, we will notify the author and explain our decision. Everyone will have a chance to revise or rewrite the letter.
  • We require both a name and home address for the author of each letter, and we reserve the right to reject a letter if we cannot confirm that person’s identity. Please provide a good phone number to contact you if necessary.
  • We will enforce a 500-word limit.


  • If a candidate is attacked or written about in a way that we deem is worthy of a rebuttal, we may allow a candidate a chance to respond, in comparable length and format.
  • If a candidate is given a chance for rebuttal, their response MUST focus only on the content of the original letter; it cannot be used for new ideas or topics.
  • In cases like this, we will include a succinct “Editor’s note” explaining our decision.

Editorial Judgement

Many of these publishing decisions will not be simple, and we will use our best editorial judgement to be fair, balanced and equitable to all candidates and all parties.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.