The sponsor of the ad received a clarification from the newspaper:
First of all, I'd like to apologize for any inconvenience The California Aggie has caused you. I've talked to a few of my staff members and I've decided that we will run your ad on two conditions:
1) We put the words "Paid Advertisement" at the top of the ad.
2) The Aggie will run a box next to the ad giving readers their response options (Where to buy an ad of their own, where to send a guest opinion, etc...)
If you think these sound reasonable, let Kevin [the advertising manager] and I know as soon as possible and he'll help you finish the ad-placement process.
Again, I apologize if my decision to not run your ad caused any problems.
My preference is that The Aggie takes no sides in issues like this, but there is no harm in running your ad if we make sure to point out that anybody can write a guest opinion or run an ad.
Thank you for your time,
Editor in Chief
The California Aggie
I personally have no problem with the first condition, although from looking at back issues it seems the only time they included the words "Paid Advertisement" was for full-page ads. They have plenty of smaller ads without that disclaimer.
But the second condition again presupposes that somehow a pro-Israel ad is "controversial" and the newspaper must go out of its way to allow those that hate Israel to have ample opportunity to respond. Would a similar pro-Canada ad have the same conditions attached? Or an ad made by a pro-choice group?
The sponsor of the ad replied:
Thank you for writing to me.
You said that The Aggie would run my ad on two conditions, and you asked me to tell you and
Kevin whether I thought those conditions were reasonable.
Before answering that question, I have several questions of my own:
(1) What other ads have met those conditions in the past?
(2) For what other ads have those conditions been required in the past?
(3) For what other ads will those conditions be required in the future?
(4) Who has approved requiring that my ad meet those conditions?
I hope that you will let Kevin and me know the answers as soon as convenient.
I'll keep you posted.