Jim Pumarlo, Community Newspaper Training

The tough challenges of covering local businesses

Categorized under:

The Inlander/August 2013

Nearly 50 employees are out of jobs due to the decision of an out-of-state insurance company to close its local office. We caught word of the news through an employee and promptly carried a report. The company never made a public announcement.

In contrast, another company with headquarters in Red Wing opened a retail store at the Mall of America 50 miles away. Our staff worked with company representatives to prepare a story before the doors opened.

Don’t overlook the bigger issue of public records

Categorized under:

Publishers’ Auxiliary/August 2013

A reader complains: Why is it necessary to print the dollar amount of all building permits? Wouldn’t it suffice to acknowledge a household remodeling project without a price tag?

The reader didn’t say it, but the editor is certain the following thought was on her mind: “After all, the dollar value is only for snoopy neighbors.”

On the surface, the argument appears legitimate. Simply reporting that a permit was issued would serve the purpose of monitoring local construction.

Timelines help readers – and reporters – make sense of fragmented coverage

Categorized under:

The Inlander/July 2013

A city council approves tax incentives for a shopping center after a months-long process that provoked emotions from proponents and opponents alike.

A basketball team completes a perfect season, capping it with a state championship.

A jury convicts a local resident of a triple murder after rumors and legal maneuvers captivate the community for two years.

When crime is sensational, news coverage shouldn’t be

Categorized under:

The Inlander/June 2013

Ariel Castro has 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.”

The Intricacies of reporting labor strikes

Categorized under:

Publishers’ Auxiliary/June 2013

Newspapers continually are challenged to produce informative and probing business news reports. The problem is compounded when no one person is the designated business writer. That’s a luxury which few community newsrooms can afford.

Policies help guide reporting of sensitive stories

Categorized under:

The Inlander/May 2013

Editors are routinely challenged with making uncomfortable news decisions. Pressed by a reader for your rationale, you respond, “That’s our policy,” or “It doesn’t meet our guidelines.” Later in the calm and privacy of your office, you reflect, “We could have done a better job.”

Look beyond the immediate news, and stay relevant

Categorized under:

Publishers' Auxiliary/April 2013

Many newspapers do a great job of looking in the rearview mirror, and that used to be adequate for inviting readers into their pages. The old formula doesn’t work anymore if community newspapers are to remain relevant. The changing media landscape, coupled with the demands on readers’ time, require that newsrooms pay just as much attention looking ahead and around as to looking back.

Let me explain.

An endorsement for newspaper endorsements

Categorized under:

The Inlander/March 2013

The 2012 elections are in the rearview mirror, and newly elected lawmakers have settled into their routines. For most editors and reporters, the next cycle of elections is likely out of mind.

Use your platform to educate, preview - and apologize

Categorized under:

Publishers’ Auxiliary/February 2013

A reader questions your policy for reporting suicides. A local retailer challenges your staff to produce timely and relevant business news.  A reporter is confronted for printing a press release charging a candidate with unfair campaign practices without contacting the accused for a response.

All of these scenarios are excellent topics for newsroom discussion. And most editors will likely respond directly to the individuals who raise the questions.

Elections are over – so keep covering them

Categorized under:

The Inlander/December 2012

The 2012 elections are in the rearview mirror. Newly elected lawmakers will soon assume their duties, and newsrooms are returning to normalcy, however that is defined these days. For most editors and reporters, the next cycle of elections is the farthest thing from their minds.

Not so quick.

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