Jim Pumarlo, Community Newspaper Training

Conflicts of interest? Be square with readers

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Publishers’ Auxiliary/July 2009

Avoiding ethical conflicts requires constant oversight in newsrooms. Navigating mine fields can be a full-time job for small-town journalists.

Newspapers should report the news, not publicize proclamations

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The Inlander/June 2009

The dairy industry is vital to the economy and central to the livelihood of thousands of communities. Its contributions are celebrated each year during June Dairy Month and provide a springboard for stories and commentaries in newspapers.

June Dairy Month, and the innumerable proclamations celebrated throughout the year, should give newsrooms pause to evaluate these press releases when they cross their desks.

Public affairs reporting much more than coverage of meetings

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Publishers’ Auxiliary/June 2009

Newspapers devote a great deal of resources in covering government meetings to keep readers abreast of decisions that affect their everyday lives. It’s little surprise that the coverage prompts its share of complaints.

Federal stimulus checks bring out the worst in reporting `whom' vs. `what'

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The Inlander/May 2009

Money is being distributed at record pace these days, courtesy of federal stimulus checks. And though the bailout prompted partisan debate at the Capitol, you’ll be hard pressed to find a lawmaker unwilling to reap the dividends.

Cut and paste content: the good and the bad

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Publishers’ Auxiliary/May 2009

Electronic delivery of information has revolutionized how newspapers collect and disseminate information.

Ground rules for columns written by public officials

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The Inlander/April 2009

What’s the impact of a legislative budget-balancing bill on local schools? How will a proposed change in the market value of commercial/industrial property affect city taxes on residential parcels? Will a proposed constitutional amendment on transportation funding pit metro vs. rural interests?

Newspapers provide broadest access to government records

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Distributed as a guest editorial by the Minnesota Newspaper Association in observance of Sunshine Week, March 15-21, 2009

A city seeks bids for road maintenance. A township announces its election and annual meeting. A county publishes its annual list of delinquent taxes.

All three items are of public interest, and all are prominently displayed under the “public notices” sections in Minnesota newspapers.

Plant the seeds now for 2010 election coverage

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The Inlander/March 2009

The conclusion of the 2008 political campaign – though one of the most memorable in U.S. history with the election of President Barack Obama – most likely brought a collective sigh to the general public and especially to newsrooms. Election coverage is among the most demanding and exhaustive tasks faced by newspapers.

Tips for gathering the tough news

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Publishers' Auxiliary/March 2009

Developing policies for tackling tough and sensitive issues is no easy task. It requires thorough and conscientious consultation with people within and outside newspaper offices.

Once guidelines are drawn, however, the hardest work still may lie ahead. Getting facts to report sensitive stories often is challenging, even if information is deemed public under state and federal laws.

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