Jim Pumarlo, Community Newspaper Training

There's no shortage of opinions these days, so make yours count

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The Inlander/February 2011

The complaint is frequent and directed at nearly all newspapers: Your editorial is “biased.”

The complaint misses the point that editorials, by definition, advance a singular point of view. In a way, editorials are similar to courtroom arguments. Opposing attorneys may begin with the same set of facts but are selective in what they use to try to persuade jurors to reach a certain conclusion.

Criminal charges, follow-up deserve equal coverage

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Publishers' Auxiliary/ Feburary 2011

An individual charges two police officers with assault. The story was carried prominently on Page One in the local newspaper.

It prompted the question: Will the follow-up story, especially if the officers are acquitted, receive similar prominence?

The comment goes to the heart of fairness and credibility of the press. The point commands attention in all newsrooms, especially those that are aggressive in coverage of cops and courts.

Prepare for news interviews, or your stories will likely fall short

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The Inlander/January 2011
Remember when you interviewed for a job? You likely had a list of “dos” and “don’ts” firmly ingrained in preparation for the line of questioning.

Among the dos, dress appropriately and be on time. Among the don’ts, avoid rambling answers and be wary of combative responses.

Business coverage should be addressed in everyday news gathering

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The Inlander/December 2010

A brainstorming session on business news inevitably revolves around the familiar Main Street stories. A hardware store celebrates its grand opening. An Italian restaurant opens, the first of its kind in the community. A florist celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Multiple voices better than a single source

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Publishers' Auxiliary/December 2010

Most reporters can likely relate to this scenario. Someone appears before a city council or other governing board to unleash criticism about an individual or organization. Reporters have little difficulty presenting a balanced report – recording all sides of the story – if the accused is at the meeting.

But what happens if the individual is not present? And what if deadlines do not permit time to get the other side of the argument?

Can newspapers survive? Sure, by delivering the basics to readers

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The Inlander/November 2010

The phrase is familiar, “There’s nothing worse than a reformed smoker.” Here’s my version, “There’s nothing worse than a retired editor.”

The premise of this column: Editors and reporters must be well grounded in the basics of journalism if newspapers are to remain relevant. In other words, present the news in a manner that engages readers – especially in public affairs reporting.

Covering fatal accidents requires newsroom policies to be consistent

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The Inlander/October 2010

A city dump truck collided with a motorcyclist, killing the cyclist immediately. A clearly distraught truck driver sat at the scene, consoled by passer-by. The local newspaper’s photographer happened to pass the scene, capturing the full emotions in a photo.

It’s a classic example where a picture indeed is worth a thousand words.

Statewide candidates deserve your attention, too

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Publishers' Auxiliary/October 2010

A former mayor announces her candidacy for state lieutenant governor. Another local resident is running for Congress. Both are logical stories for a hometown newspaper.

On the other hand, numerous candidates seeking regional or statewide offices visit local newspapers, seeking, at minimum, a news story and/or photo to elevate their campaigns. An editorial endorsement by the local newspaper is a bonus.

Strengthen public affairs coverage to stay relevant and competitve

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The Inlander/September 2010

The challenging economy and its ripple effect on all budgets – from governments to businesses to households – demands that newspapers brainstorm how best to improve coverage of local public affairs. The decisions made by public bodies, especially as they affect taxpayer pocketbooks, warrant more attention than ever.

Tips for taking a pre-emptive approach to handling election letters

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The Inlander/August 2010

Election season represents the best and worst of times for editorial pages. It’s an opportunity to welcome new authors during a lively debate on the pros and cons of candidates and issues. At the same time, editors face the grind of sorting through orchestrated letter-writing campaigns.

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