Jim Pumarlo, Community Newspaper Training

Plan now for endorsements, the final step of election coverage

Categorized under:

The Inlander/May 2012

Readers have been inundated for months with coverage of the 2012 presidential election. But newsrooms should also be brainstorming for ways to bring attention to local races.

Election coverage is one of the most exhaustive and scrutinized tasks facing community newsrooms. Substantive coverage also is vitally important to an informed and engaged citizenry.

Numbers, without interpretation, leave readers in dark

Categorized under:

Publishers' Auxiliary/May 2012

Spend any time in a newsroom and numbers readily become a fact of everyday reporting. Reporters’ eyes can easily become glazed by the stream of statistics.

Looking to invigorate your editorial page? Focus on letters

Categorized under:

The Inlander/April 2012

Newspapers frequently ask how they can promote a lively exchange of ideas in their communities.

There’s no silver bullet, but one premise is fundamental: Letters are the lifeblood of an editorial page. Take steps to ensure substantive letters, and you’re well on your way to making your editorial page a must-read. My apologies in advance to anyone who takes offense, but thank-you letters should be at the bottom of the pile – if they ever are published.

Newspapers should record, not rewrite, history

Categorized under:

Publishers' Auxiliary/April 2012

An individual is convicted of failure to comply with a police order; he pays his $100 fine plus $65 in court costs. The misdemeanor is reported in the newspaper’s police blotter, and, in most cases, that would be the end of the story.

How are you performing? Check in with readers

Categorized under:

The Inlander/March 2012

When is the last time a reader challenged the accuracy of a story? Or complained that a headline was misleading and sensational? Or charged that a major advertiser was given preferential treatment in a story? Or said a video posted on the website was selectively and unfairly edited?

Be aggressive – and responsible – in pursuit of news

Categorized under:

Publishers' Auxiliary/March 2012

Nothing is more important to establishing a community newspaper as the premier source for local information than being the first with the news. Hand in hand, however, is being responsible in your coverage.

Social media allows newspapers to deliver information 24/7. The landscape allows nondaily newspapers to level the playing field with their daily counterparts. At the same time, Twitter and Facebook and other tools demand constant oversight of editors.

Position editorial page at forefront of coverage

Categorized under:

The Inlander/February 2012

A newspaper praises the selection of the new city council president as the best person to lead the community through the year’s challenges. An editorial looks skeptical upon the school district’s choice to close and reconfigure school buildings as detrimental to student and family interests. An editor’s commentary applauds the compromise reached by all stakeholders on the proposal to develop valuable riverfront property in the downtown.

Give equal attention to criminal charges, follow-up coverage

Categorized under:

The Inlander/January 2012

Coverage of cops and courts is among the staples of community news. Though reports are vitally important to readers, the coverage by its nature is almost always done in piecemeal. Attention is typically given to the initial incident and charges, and possibly the first court appearance, yet it may be weeks or months later until a case is fully resolved.

Fairness to the parties and credibility of a news organization demand that each step of a case receives similar prominence.

Introducing candidates: Preparing for the yo-yo factor

Categorized under:

Publishers' Auxiliary/February 2010

Individuals arrive unannounced to launch their candidacy for an elective office. On another front, have you ever had candidates say the stories profiling their campaigns are biased?  Or how do you evaluate the barrage of photo requests during election season?

The realities and challenges of election coverage begin with proper introduction of the candidates to your staff as well as your readers.  I call it the yo-yo factor.

Ins and outs of Platform

Categorized under:

Comments about private business – whether positive or negative, signed or unsigned – are generally off limits for this page. That standard is adhered to by most newspapers.

But there are exceptions, the most usual being if a comment involves a public issue. That is the case for two comments about private business that appear in today’s People’s Platform.

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