Jim Pumarlo, Community Newspaper Training

During election season, pay attention to who’s delivering the message

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Publishers' Auxiliary/May 2014

A regional arts council distributes funds to local
artists, courtesy of a grant from the state arts board. A start-up company gets
a boost from a venture capital fund. A local bike trail will finally connect
two cities, thanks to support from a new state trails program.

Set your ground rules now for the coming barrage of election letters

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The Inlander/April 2014

Election season poses a host of questions for editors as they sift through the natural upsurge in letters. For those in the midst of spring elections, editors are likely making many decisions on the fly. For late primaries and the November general election, it’s not too early to set the ground rules.

Be sure to share your policy with as broad an audience as possible, including candidates and their campaign managers. It’s an excellent topic for a column to readers.

Withholding public information creates double standard

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Publishers’ Auxiliary/April 2014

A woman calls to say her son was whisked to the hospital for a routine matter. Must the ambulance run appear in the paper? It causes so many unnecessary phone calls.

Another woman asks that her shoplifting conviction not appear. Her mother is sickly, and, if she reads the court report, it may adversely affect her health.

Introducing candidates: Preparing for the YOYO factor

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The Inlander/March 2014

This even-numbered year launches another election cycle. Some newspapers are well into the mode with spring elections. It’s not too early for everyone to convene a brainstorming session for the general elections this fall. In all cases, it’s essential to pay attention to the central figures: the candidates.

Political advertising: Don’t forget the ‘ask’

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Publishers' Auxiliary/February 2014

Another election season is under way, and newsrooms are gearing up for campaigns that last weeks and even months. Coverage will consume the news pages from candidate profiles and community forums to photo requests and letters to the editor. And don’t forget the steady barrage of press releases.

Step-by-step coverage of political campaigns likely prompts more than one publisher to utter: Why are we giving the candidates all this free publicity? Where are their ads?

What newspapers can learn from public relations pros

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The Inlander/December 2013

Nearly every editor can likely relate to this phone call: “Hi, I’m in charge of publicity for the Lions Club. I’ve been asked to contact you about a story to promote our upcoming rib fest.” You insert the organization and the event.

Author may be the most revealing part of a letter

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Publishers' Auxiliary/November 2013

A reader complained about a published letter that supported teachers in their contract dispute: Did the editor know the writer was the spouse of a teacher? Why wasn’t that noted since the writer has a self-interest in the outcome of negotiations?

Many editors have likely fielded similar questions at one time or another.

A lesson in reporting tragedy

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Publishers' Auxiliary/October 2013

A family’s farm is devastated by a tornado. A reporter is on the scene moments afterward to record the events, including talking with family members.

A student commits suicide and, understandably, it’s a shock to many people. A story documents the community’s response; the family relives the episode, blow by blow.

A child is murdered. Within days, an interview with the grieving parent is published.

When ‘paid’ letter-writers warrant a voice on your editorial page

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The Inlander/October 2013

A reader denounces the newspaper for shortchanging the “honest comments of a longtime local resident” by publishing a rebuttal from an out-of-state resident – “a professional who has a vested interest, a doubtful local connection to the Red Wing community.”

The complaint crossed my desk as editor of the Red Wing Republican Eagle. The conversation  began wreferenced an exchange of letters on our editorial page.

When crime is sensational, news coverage shouldn’t be

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Publishers’ Auxiliary/September 2013

Ariel Castro immediately become a household name after being arrested in connection with the three women held captive for years in his Cleveland home. His trial is probably months away, but it’s a safe bet that if you poll Americans today, the resounding public verdict is “guilty as charged.”

Pumarlo.com • Jim Pumarlo • Community Newsroom Success Strategies • 1327 W. Sixth St. • Red Wing, MN • 55066 • (651) 380-4295