Idaho Publisher Explains Why His Paper Ran A Front-Page Anti-Gay Ad

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January 29, 2015 5:17 p.m.

An Idaho newspaper publisher justified the company’s decision to run an anti-gay ad on its front page as an effort to “offer the same advertising opportunities regardless of the opinion shared within the advertisement,” according to media reporter Jim Romenesko.

Amidst a debate in Idaho’s House of Representatives on whether to accept a bill that would add protections to the state’s Human Rights Act, the Idaho Statesman, along with three other local papers, ran an ad condemning the bill on Wednesday.

The ad played off the popularized “Add the Words” title which had been applied to the bill and read: “ADD NO WORDS Stand up to bullying!” The ad included a link to a website which denounces homosexuality, transgenderism, and “other forms of sexual deviancy.”

On Thursday the bill was halted in the state House. Had it passed, the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” would’ve been added to Idaho’s Human Rights Act.

The Statesman’s publisher Mike Jung posted a note online explaining that it was “unfortunate” that the advertising had “created hurt and anger among some readers.” He also noted that the paper “strongly” supported the bill’s passage.

Jung’s note is below:

It’s unfortunate the advertising Post It note that appeared on the front page of the Statesman has created hurt and anger among some readers. That was not the intent.

We welcome and encourage open discussion and dialogue among many topics, including the legislation to ban discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people, commonly referred to as Add the Words. In fact, if a company or individual wanted to communicate they were in favor of the legislation, we would have accepted their paid advertising. Our position is clear on the bill as we strongly support its passing.

Regarding the paper accepting the ad, we provide a platform for both sides of every issue. I would have accepted the same Post-It note if it had read, “Add the Words, Stop the Bullying.” We offer the same advertising opportunities regardless of the opinion shared within the advertisement. That said, we reserve the right to refuse advertisements that include slanderous or defaming statements. Wednesday’s ad was marked as “Paid for by Lance Wells.”

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