Local Florida weekly Conch Color is to charge City Commission election candidates for campaign coverage in their weekly publication.
Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida pointed out that a ‘pay to play’ approach will not only leave some of the less wealthy candidates out of the race (even more so in light of the current economic climate), but will also leave the public in the dark as to who actually is the best candidate for the job.
Despite candidate Marquardt’s protestations for Oosterhoudt to reconsider, reminding the publisher that ‘freedom of the press is a guaranteed right under the Constitution’, Oosterhoudt wrote that ‘freedom of the press does not ensure campaign coverage, just a level playing field. And you have to pay to play.’
Although Oosterhoudt told The Citizen that he will publish a photo that shows all candidates, without giving preference to those who advertise, it has done little to calm the flames of outrage from parties and fundraises – who attribute the reality of the situation to little more that the pragmatics of a capitalist system at work.”