I appeared on the Zev Brenner program for 2 hours this past Motzoei Shabbos. (To hear this program, click here: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz Audio.) There, I asked people, as I did in Friday’s column, to be respectful to our Gedolim s’hlita and not to engage in disparaging remarks of any kind.
One of the callers asked me what my thoughts were regarding possible improvements to the ‘Kol Korei’ process. I responded that after a number of negative, unsigned ads appeared in Monsey newspapers in the 2005 election campaign, I wrote an open letter that ran the following week in two local papers with my suggestions on how to improve the process of posting ads in the future. I feel that adapting some form of these guidelines for all our publications would be a good first step moving forward.
The caller asked to see a copy of the letter and I informed him that I would post it on my website. Below, please find the text of my letter. Some details that were only germane to that local election were removed from the letter. The rest of the letter is verbatim text that was published in the Monsey papers.
November 9, 2005
To the Editors of … (Monsey Newspapers)
I hope this letter finds you well. …
I am … deeply troubled by the toneof many of the ads that appeared in our local papers. Some were positive and expressed the need for our kehila to show hakoras hatov to elected officials who have served our community’s needs. However, many ads were needlessly negative and defamatory, and simply generate enormous animosity … Additionally, some ads were published with nebulous names of never-heard-before organizations with no accountability for their content. …
I respectfully ask all of our local papers to “Take the Pledge” and set clear, public, and transparent policies for the acceptance of ads in the future.
Here are my recommendations for possible published guidelines:
1) All political advertisements that appear in our papers are positive in nature, extolling virtues of candidates without negative attacks. The Editors reserve the right to reject any ads that do not meet these standards.
2) Every political or organizational ad that is run in our local papers must contain printed information with the:
a. Name of the sponsoring organization
b. The title and name of a high-ranking official in the organization, and a phone number or email address (I have run hundreds of ads for Project YES over the past nine years. Each ad contains text that reads, “Project YES, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director,” and our contact information)
3) No ads with signatures should appear in our local papers unless we receive a letter or fax WITH THE FINAL TEXT OF THE AD that is personally signed by the community leader. (That is the policy of virtually all graphic designers. I, for instance, must sign off on all my Darchei Noam and Project YES ads before they are submitted to the papers. This is done so that if there is an error in the ad, I cannot shift the blame to others.)
I respectfully ask you to publish your guidelines for the acceptance of future ads in a prominent location in your paper as soon as possible.
Please feel free to contact me to discuss this matter. I can be reached at …
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Menahel, Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey
To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.