PROCTOR, Minn. (AP) – If you’re thinking of sneaking in a letter to The Proctor Journal that endorses your favorite candidate, you’ll have to pay for it.

Owner-publisher-editor Jake Benson is charging 5 cents a word for letters to the editor that back political candidates.

“After years of having candidates drop by the office, news release in hand but no ads, I just got tired of spending space and time and not getting any sort of advertising and then getting barraged with last-minute letters to the editor supporting issues and candidates,” said Benson.

The Journal, a 100-year-old weekly newspaper in northeastern Minnesota near Duluth, has a circulation of nearly 2,000.

The twice-weekly Echo Press in Alexandria has had a similar policy for letters to the editor for more than 15 years. “It seemed to work” and does limit the numbers, said editor Al Edenloff, although “we still get tons of them.”

Media ethics expert Bob Steele, of the Poynter Institute, didn’t like the idea. “I believe the letters to the editor forum is a valuable one for the public to express thoughts and ideas and concerns,” he said.

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