VTDigger now accepting campaign and advocacy ads

VTDigger’s mission is to provide Vermonters with daily access to beat reporting on state government, business and issues that matter to Vermonters.

We are a nonprofit under the aegis of the Vermont Journalism Trust, and our operating budget is based on a three sources of revenue: memberships, grants and underwriting.

As part of our strategy for building a sustainable nonprofit business model, we have expanded our underwriting program to include advocacy and campaign ads.

For information about our rates and to design an underwriting package that best fits your budget and needs, contact publisher Diane Zeigler at 802-839-6520 or 802-225-6224.

VTDIGGER UNDERWRITING GUIDELINES

VTDigger.org endorses no political candidates or causes and seeks to present a broad spectrum of views. All sponsorship placements are subject to VTDigger.org approval and should include verifiable sources of funding.

TAXABLE ADVERTISING

VTDigger accepts a limited amount of taxable advertising, based on allowable guidelines under federal tax law for nonprofit organizations. Taxable advertising is accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the yearly taxable threshold is met, we cannot accept more.

Allowable taxable advertising is of the following nature:

  • Ads that directly promote a political party, candidate, or reference a specific piece of legislation by name.
  • Ads that contain deadline-driven pricing incentives – such as “Act now to receive 10% discount”, etc.

CONDITION OF MESSAGE FOR POLITICAL ADVERTISING 

VTDigger does not endorse or warrant the accuracy of political messages. Political ad copy must include the previous statement at the bottom of any ads of this nature.

VTDigger will not accept taxable advertising that contains puffery (“Candidate X is the greatest candidate for women”) or direct comparisons.

NONTAXABLE UNDERWRITING

Issue messages must stick to the topic and may not be directed at a political figure or promote a political candidate or party. VTDigger does not accept material that contains: sales pitches, puffery (“This is the best flashlight ever made”), comparison advertising or deadline-driven pricing incentives; ads that reference a specific piece of legislation by name; messages in support of or against a specific political figure.

VTDigger will decline any underwriting or advertising material that it deems to be in violation of its policies.

VTDigger.org is a project of The Vermont Journalism Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. VTDigger maintains editorial independence from its underwriting program, which has no influence whatsoever on the direction or content of our reporting.

Diane Zeigler

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4 Comments on "VTDigger now accepting campaign and advocacy ads"

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Moshe Braner
2 years 2 months ago

Any advertisement that is actually paid for is guaranteed to be a sales pitch or a candidate push, even if it is lightly dressed to obscure that. E.g., just on this page, the first two ads I noticed are from Fairpoint and from Lang McLaughry real estate, both of which appear to contain mostly “puffery” in support of what they are selling.

I worry that, becoming dependent on advert income, VTDigger would slide down the slope that has defanged all “commerical” journalism.

Jeff Potter
2 years 2 months ago
I don’t disagree, and it’s always a good thing for a news operation to worry about conflicts of interest and the issues you raise here. It’s always a good thing for readers to raise the possibilities and keep publications on their toes. But I have several observations. 1. The hairsplitting distinctions are clearly designed to accommodate IRS rules for tax-exempt/deductible nonprofit status and what sort of advertising the site can or cannot accept in accordance with the provisions of its 501(c)3 determination. 2. If its readers supported its journalism efforts sufficiently, I bet this website would be glad not to… Read more »
Hinda Miller
2 years 2 months ago

I think this is not a good decision to accept advertising. It changes the whole nature of VT. Digger. i assume you have contacted your donors about this change of policy. this is the first that I have heard of it.
Happy New Year to all.
Hinda Miller

2 years 2 months ago
Thanks, Hinda, for writing. We are notifying everyone at once, through this post, as part of our commitment to transparency with all our readers, donors and underwriters. We’ve had the advocacy ad policy for a while. The campaign ads are an extension of it. The campaign ad policy does not allow candidates to include comparisons with other candidates. We will not be accepting attack ads of any kind. The messages must be educational in nature. As other commenters have noted, we need to raise money in order to maintain our staff of reporters and editors. This is one way to… Read more »
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