FLEMINGTON, NJ – The TAPinto group of hyperlocal news sites is committed to accuracy and fairness in all of its reporting. The covering of elections is no different.

TAPinto Flemington-Raritan editor Curtis Leeds said this week that when it comes to local elections, unbiased and fair coverage is especially important.

“Big elections such as the presidential campaign that’s now underway interest many people, and that’s certainly understandable,” he said. “This year’s colorful presidential candidates have raised the season to an especially theatrical level,” Leeds said, so even some people with little interest in politics are following the campaign closely.

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But things are different on the local level. “For one thing, your local mayor, or borough council member, can have a profound influence on our lives,” he said. For example, decisions made about planning and zoning, and how local tax dollars are spent, can have an impact on our daily lives in a way that decisions made in Washington often don’t,” according to Leeds.

And candidates in local elections are our friends and neighbors, Leeds added, and with the stakes so high, it’s not uncommon for emotions to run high. “TAPinto Flemington wants to encourage dialogue on matters of local interest, but we insist it be done in a way that provides everyone an equal platform for discussion.”

Leeds added that the establishment of the TAPinto news franchise system by founder Michael Shapiro was rooted specifically on the premise of fairness, so while “I’m obligated as the local editor to promote that fairness, it’s a part of the company’s culture that’s especially easy for me to embrace.”

The following are the rules TAPinto Flemington-Raritan will follow during this election cycle:

Candidate Statements: Candidates can submit a maximum of one candidate statement per week (including photos) from Labor Day up through the week before Election Day. Publication of candidate statements is at the sole discretion of the editor of that town’s site. No statements will be published from the Sunday before Election Day through Election Day. Statements must be factually accurate and not defamatory. Should there be questions as to the factual accuracy of a statement, the candidate will be asked to provide documentation for their claims. Should they fail to do so, the statement will not be published until the candidate revises the statement accordingly. Similarly, should a statement be deemed factually inaccurate or defamatory it will not be published and the candidate will have the option to revise their statement accordingly. If a statement is published and later is alleged to be factually inaccurate, the statement will be temporarily removed from the site and the candidate will be asked to provide documentation for their claims. Should they do so, the statement will be republished. Should they fail to do so, they can revise their statement accordingly or it will remain unpublished. Statements should be submitted on the site directly.

Letters to the Editor: Anyone can submit Letters to the Editor at any time up until the day before Election Day. Publication of Letters to the Editor is at the sole discretion of the editor of that town’s site. They must be factually accurate and not defamatory. They must not be anonymous. The letter writer must submit their phone number with their letter. The phone number will not be published – it will be used for verification purposes. Should the letter be deemed inaccurate or defamatory, the letter will not be published and the letter writer will be offered the opportunity to either provide documentation for their claims or to revise their letter accordingly. Letters should be submitted directly to the site using the author’s registered user name.

Press Releases: Anyone can submit a press release. Publication of press releases is at the sole discretion of the editor of that town’s site. The press release must be factually accurate and not defamatory. Should the press release be deemed inaccurate or defamatory, the press release will not be published and the author will be offered the opportunity to either provide documentation for their claims or revise the release accordingly. Press releases must be submitted directly on the site under the author’s own username for consideration for publication.

Advertising: All candidates are able to purchase advertising on the site. All candidates in a municipality are charged the same amount for the same sized ad for the same time period. To advertise, contact the editor for your municipality’s site.