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How to get your write-up in the paper

You almost never hear the word "newspaper" today without the word "community" in front of it. What does it mean to be a community newspaper? It means we should reflect a diverse chorus of views every week. It means we need a lot of voices to make it work.

But too often the rules of getting something you want in print put up a barrier. Some of the rules make obvious sense, such as you can't libel anyone (that's the printed form of slander). Others are just to create a general sense of fairness, such as making rules as to which news releases get printed when space doesn't allow for everything to fit. We don't expect anyone to understand exactly why we do everything we do, but most people agree after hearing our reasons that they're pretty sound ones.

The point here is this: don't assume we're not interested in printing what you have to say. We need that variety of voices in the newspaper to reflect the variety of voices in our communities.

If it weren't for the thought-provoking letters to the editor, the church gatherings, the sports briefs, the quirky birthday ads, the fun promotions from our advertisers, the strange crime news, the laughs from our columnists, we wouldn't have the "community newspaper" we're so proud of. We need you all.

So here are a few tips if you're interested in getting something in the paper.

1. E-mail is the best way to send things, because it means our staff doesn't have to re-type what you've brought in, and if we have questions, we can fire off a quick reply. But e-mail is not a requirement -- we will happily type handwritten, faxed, mailed items.

2. Our deadline to submit anything is 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. If you can get it in even sooner, that's great, but that's the normal cutoff.

3. News releases or "neighborhood news" listings of any kind are subject to editing. There hasn't been a week in years where we didn't have more to put in the paper than we had space to put it. So sometimes we shorten things up by removing unnecessary words, but we always try to preserve the content as you have it. We only run these items one time -- we can't repeat them.

4. Short items are better. If we have to make the difficult choice of putting your one item in, or five other people's items in because those five are shorter, we're going to usually go with the five. So brevity increases your chances by a lot!

5. We're happy to print things like a benefit dinner or special event as news copy, which is free. Some people choose to also put an ad in the Intercom, which has a larger circulation but no news content. You don't ever have to buy an ad to get something in the paper like that, but some people do and we offer a deep discount to non-profit organizations or individuals promoting a good cause.

6. Write when you're happy, not just when you're mad. Too many people only think of writing the newspaper when they're upset about something, but rarely do it to point out something good. We have our namedroppers section (free of charge) and letters to the editor (free), and just a small charge (starting at $7) to place a "thank you" ad.

7. If you have photos to send, send them one at a time in separate e-mails. Sometimes people load up one e-mail with so many photos, the e-mail server (either yours or ours) won't send the e-mail through. Worse yet, neither you nor we usually have any idea the e-mail didn't work. Send one or two photos at a time and you can rest assured they're going to go through.

8. If you're not sure whether we'd print something, send it! We're more than happy to take a look. Too often people assume we're not interested, when we really are.

There are more things, of course, that make the whole process work more easily, but following these really helps. Remember, you're part of the "community" in "community newspaper," and your input is both valuable and appreciated!