Kevin Roche: My struggle with the Star Tribune (2)

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On Monday morning Kevin Roche wrote the Star Tribune at [email protected]: “I want to put an issue ad in the paper.” The following email exchange ensued:

On Mon, Mar 23, 2020 at 9:20 AM Place Ads wrote:

Hi Kevin,

Please send over the text you’d like to publish and we can get a rate and proof set up for you.

From: Kevin Roche
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2020 9:23 AM
To: Place Ads Subject: Re: Star Tribune Media Kit Contact

The text is attached, it is not so much an ad as a public opinion or commentary kind of piece. I am assuming that with what has happened the rate for publication will be pretty good. I would appreciate advice on which section it is best to place the ad in so it gets the most attention. Please feel free to call me at [number omitted].

On Mon, Mar 23, 2020 at 9:47 AM Place Ads wrote:

Hi Kevin,

Unfortunately, Star Tribune is not able to publish your commentary based on our policy guidelines.

Let me know if you have questions and I can relay them to our policy team.

Thanks,

[Name omitted]

From: Kevin Roche
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2020 10:18 AM
To: Place Ads Subject: Re: Star Tribune Media Kit Contact

Yes can you do that, I see other ads that are basically commentary, so I don’t understand the refusal to publish this.

On Mon, Mar 23, 2020 at 11:08 AM Place Ads wrote:

Hi Kevin,

Excerpt from our policy team is quoted below.

“We review all ads for standards of acceptability; particularly those stating opinions on political or social issues. We don’t accept ads that attack, criticize or cast negative reflections against any individual, organization, business, profession or other group of people.”

All advocacy advertisers are required for prepayment, a typical rate for a Full Page Sunday ad is around $36k.

Your best bet is writing into our Opinion Editor, he would be able to consider your commentary in that section of the paper. Letters from readers in the Opinion section are no cost.

Thank you,

[Name omitted]

From: Kevin Roche
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2020 11:19 AM
To: Place Ads Subject: Re: Star Tribune Media Kit Contact

So what the heck is wrong with what I wrote? Can you give me specifics? Looks no different than advocacy ads I see you run all the time by labor groups, business groups, etc.?

On Mon, Mar 23, 2020 at 12:03 PM Place Ads wrote:

Hi Kevin,

We welcome your participation in these pages, whether in letters for the Readers Write section or commentaries for the Opinion Exchange page.

The best way to contribute is through the Submit a letter or commentary link on our website, at startribune.com/opinion. You can also submit by email to [email protected]

Submissions must be exclusive to us in Minnesota. All must include the writer’s real, legal name, address, occupation and phone numbers. Letters and rebuttals become the property of the Star Tribune and may be republished in any format. Letters should be brief, up to 250 words.

Articles should be fewer than 700 words. Because of the volume of submissions, we cannot respond to all writers.

Thank you for reaching out to Star Tribune.

[Name omitted]

From: Kevin Roche
Date: Mon, Mar 23, 2020 at 2:07 PM
Subject: Re: Star Tribune Media Kit Contact
To: Place Ads

If you can’t give me some specifics on what is wrong with the proposed ad, so that I could address it, I must assume that you are merely attempting to suppress a viewpoint with which you don’t agree. So please give me specifics.

* * * * * *

On Tuesday the Star Tribune Director of Advertising Sales interceded:

On Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 7:01 AM [Name and email address omitted] wrote:

Hi Kevin,

I wanted to reach out to you as I’m aware that you were going back and forth with our advertising team on something that you wanted to run in the paper. As [name omitted] stated, we were unable to take the ad and I wanted to make sure you understood why we arrived at this decision. Based on our policy guidelines: “We review all ads for standards of acceptability; particularly those stating opinions on political or social issues. We don’t accept ads that attack, criticize or cast negative reflections against any individual, organization, business, profession or other group of people.”

I am around all day if you would like to discuss further or if you have any questions.

Thank you for your business and readership.

[Name omitted]

Director, Advertising Sales

On Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 7:22 AM Kevin Roche wrote:

I still don’t understand what specifically is wrong with the ad and you certainly take advocacy ads on issues of public interest, like school funding, environmental matters or other issues. I believe you have run ads in regard to mining in Northern Minnesota recently. I know [the Star Tribune general counsel] and I have asked her if she can explain this me.

From: Kevin Roche
Date: Tue, Mar 24, 2020 at 5:41 PM
Subject: Re: Star Tribune Follow Up
To: [Star Tribune Director of Advertising Sales]

First let me thank you for your kindness in reaching out to me to attempt an explanation of why the ad would not be taken. I have attempted to take out anything that might be considered harsh or negative in the attached version. So I am hopeful it will be acceptable. I would think that at a time of unprecedented crisis the paper might be eager to aid in the promulgation of information and suggestions of courses of action, especially when it is being paid to do so. And while it should not make any difference in regard to the opinions being expressed, I was General Counsel of UnitedHealth Group, founder and CEO of its Ingenix Divison and I have since been an investor in and sat on the boards of a number of health care companies, including public companies. I also write a daily blog on health care research, which you can find at www.healthy-skeptic.com….



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