Jim Pumarlo, Community Newspaper Training

Why we published this letter

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A Red Wing resident sings the praises of the Outdoor Store in a letter to the editor elsewhere on this page. It’s a rare occasion when we publish such a letter.

We’re making an exception because the letter goes to the heart of a critical local issue: What will it take to strengthen Red Wing’s position as a regional retail trade center?

Private business rarely public business

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Brian Brady of Hayward, Calif., is an unabashed admirer of Red Wing. Don’t take our word; just read the letter to the editor elsewhere on this page.

It’s one of the rare times readers will see such a letter published in this newspaper.

It was difficult to reject the letter. Brady’s comments were genuine and extremely complimentary.

Favorite stores won’t be debated

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It’s a legitimate question: Should the Port Authority be doing anything to draw another discount retail department store to Red Wing? That question was raised in People’s Platform Wednesday.

But we’ll not permit a public debate on whether Target is better than Wal-Mart or Fleet Farm. Or which store has the best customer service. Or which stores have the best buys on a particular product.

Take complaints directly to business

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A woman called People’s Platform last week with a complaint against the Salvation Army Store in Red Wing.

Her comments will not be published but have been passed along to the store manager. The comments overstepped the bounds of the Platform on a couple of counts.

The Republican Eagle has a pretty strict policy against publishing comments about private businesses – whether the comments are in the Platform or a letter to the editor, whether the comments are positive or negative.

Don't wait! Start planning for your paper’s election endorsements

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The Inlander/December 2009

Quiz a roomful of editors and reporters about their most memorable editorials. Ask them which have generated the greatest reaction.

The noteworthy commentaries invariably delivered messages targeted at specific decision-makers who were in position to advance specific policies.

Improving relations with city hall is a two-way street

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Publishers' Auxiliary/December 2009

A fire chief is suspended without pay after he takes his nephew, and another firefighter off his working shift, for a joy ride on the city’s fire boat. Is this newsworthy?

Three local firms are vying to become airport manager in what has become a contentious process. A committee, on a 4-3 vote, recommends the existing vendor to the city council, even though the proposal exceeds the low bid by $100,000 over the life of the five-year contract. Should citizens know who voted for which vendor?

Prepare now for 2010 elections

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Publishers' Auxiliary/November 2009

U.S. federal elections are a year away. Numerous other jurisdictions will conduct elections between now and then. It’s not too early to begin outlining your election coverage.

Election coverage is one of the most demanding and exhaustive tasks that newsrooms undertake. The process will be smoother for newsrooms – and the coverage more relevant to readers – if you take early steps.

A checklist for evaluating, advocating coverage of sensitive issues

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The Inlander/November 2009

How many editors have faced reporting bad news – or, put another way – making an uncomfortable news decision? Pressed by a reader for the rationale, you’ve replied, “That’s our policy,” or “It doesn’t meet our guidelines.” Yet, in the calm and privacy of your office, you reflect, “We could have done a better job.”

Don’t bemoan your predicament: Localize the news

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Publishers' Auxiliary/October 2009

Survey community newsrooms and two frustrations are likely to surface with some regularity. Staffs are searching for substantive content on a slow news day, and they’re chagrined that the “big” stories are in that day’s statewide press.

Editors need not despair. The answer to their predicament is certainly not novel: Localize your stories.

When publishing salaries of public officials, do so responsibly

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The Inlander/October 2009

Publish the salaries of government officials and two reactions are almost guaranteed. Some citizens will express outrage at the level of pay for what they perceive as a lack of performance, and some identified employees will charge that the newspaper is invading their privacy.

Monitoring salaries of public officials is at the heart of a newspaper’s watchdog role. At the same time, even though most public officials expect a certain “nakedness,” they deserve responsible treatment of public information.

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