Political candidates control a lot:  their appearances, their message, their ads.

If only they could control the news stories about themselves.

Well, there's a newspaper in Tennessee promising to do just that. The Memphis-based Tri-State Defender, an alt-weekly, is offering an advertisement/news combo, where candidates can purchase ads in the paper -- as well as favorable front-page stories:

Prices range from $500 to $3,000 for ads of varying sizes and articles that include front page, staff-written profiles that largely reflect the candidates' sentiments, said Defender publisher Melvin Jones.

For example, after paying the newspaper $3,000, candidates receive a half-page advertisement and two front-page articles in the paper's special election editions. For $1,500 they receive a quarter-page ad and two articles in the election editions.

It's really a terrific idea all around: Voters don't have to hear icky, negative campaign stories.  Candidates don't have to be bothered with a critical account of their performance. And the paper itself doesn't have to worry as much about actual reporting or, you know, the truth.

Great thinking, Tri-State Defender!