Questions You’ve Raised

Jim Pumarlo welcomes your questions. Click here to submit your question and receive a response.

Recent Writing

Start now to craft fresh, unorthodox election questions

Attention newsrooms: It’s time to get serious about 2024 elections coverage. I hear the collective groan. The reaction is likely shaded by the strident national contests and their seemingly never-ending campaign cycles.

One checklist for evaluating, advocating coverage of sensitive issues

Editors are routinely challenged with making uncomfortable news decisions. To be certain, there is no universal right or wrong call on whether to publish a story and in how much detail. Several factors may be in play including community norms and longstanding newspaper policy.

Use your platform to educate, preview – and apologize

A reader complains that a youth sports story was too negative. Someone questions why a particular quote wasn’t included in a report of a contentious public hearing. Your newsroom brainstorms how election coverage can be more substantive and meaningful. A reporter is rightfully embarrassed for basically writing a press verbatim that charges a local official with unethical conduct without contacting the accused for a response.

Omissions as damaging as glaring errors to credibility

Newsrooms collectively cringe at the obvious errors when an edition rolls off the presses or is posted online. A misspelled word in a headline, especially on page one. A wrong score in a sporting event. An incorrect date of an upcoming event.

Deliver more than votes and quotes from government meetings

The city council concludes debate and acts on an issue at community forefront. You record the quotes that highlighted a lively exchange and the final vote. Your story is ready to roll.

Step away from your desk and enrich community coverage

A reporter monitors the livestream of a city council meeting, taking advantage of the opportunity to multitask on assignments.

Be responsible in exercising rights to public information

The subjects naturally raise two questions: What constitutes these items as news? Why is there such a delay in the report?

Editorials can serve a variety of roles

Newspapers regularly report items that are unflattering to the newsmakers. You have a responsibility, for example, to identify businesses cited for selling tobacco or alcohol to underage youths, especially if fines are assessed at a public meeting. The reports still will likely draw wrath from the businesses and their employees.

Take the offense when advocating for FOI

Preserving and promoting the public’s right to know was a priority during my tenure as an editor. We regularly jousted with public officials, educating them on the letter of the law in circumstances of open meetings and public data.

Take steps now to report on 2024 budgets

We’re halfway into 2023, and many local governments are well involved in exploring 2024 budgets. Are your newsrooms aware of the process? Are you keeping readers abreast of the dynamics?

Book endorsements

Anyone who has edited or published a community newspaper knows the most challenging and, often, agonizing part of the job is dealing with sensitive issues. I dealt with many issues like this during my career as an editor, and wished there was some type of guidance...

Seminar endorsements

I would like to thank Jim for contributing to the success of our first virtual convention. He delivered an engaging, well presented, and valuable online workshop for our membership! We had great attendance and I think that everyone took away a vast amount of...

 Who is Jim Pumarlo?

Community newspapers, at their best, are stewards of their communities. The news columns are a blend of stories that people like to read and stories they should read. The advertising columns promote and grow local commerce. And the editorial pages are a marketplace of ideas.

Jim Pumarlo understands that energized newspapers are at the foundation of energized communities. His message is straightforward: Community newspapers – whether delivering information in the print or on the Web – must focus on local news if they are to remain relevant to their readers and advertisers.

Click here for more info on Jim Pumarlo.

You’re welcome to reprint these columns with the appropriate tagline:

Jim Pumarlo writes, speaks and provides training on community newsroom success strategies. He is author of “Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues in Small-Town Newspapers,” “Votes and Quotes: A Guide to Outstanding Election Coverage” and “Journalism Primer: A Guide to Community News Coverage.” He can be reached at and welcomes comments and questions at




9 – Online Media Campus
Webinar: “Business News as an Everyday Beat”



Minnesota Newspaper Institute and Bethel University, St. Paul

Five-part online course to train citizen journalists

Assisted in developing curriculum, and presented session on public affairs coverage and meeting reporting


8 – National Newspaper Association Foundation

Webinar: “Interviewing Skills: Techniques and Improving Observation in Volatile Situations”

Co-presenter with Corey Hebner, Michigan State Police community service trooper

2-3 – Texas Center for Community Journalism, Management Boot Camp

Presenter: “Finding Time for Editorial Projects”

Presenter: “Delivering What Your Community Wants: Connecting with Your Readers”

Panel participant: “Leading the Newspaper, Leading in Your Community”


5 – National Newspaper Association Foundation

Webinar: “Your Role in Election Coverage: Why You should be on the Front Lines”

Co-presenter with Al Cross, director of Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues

19 – National Newspaper Association Foundation

Webinar: “Outstanding Election Coverage: Identifying the Elements”

Co-presenter with Al Cross, director of Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues


28 – Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention

Panel participant: “Reconnecting with Your Community”



21 – Colorado Press Association/Kansas Press Association Joint Virtual Convention
Webinar: “Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues”


11 – Alabama Press Association Media Summit & Winter Meeting
Webinar: “Business – an Everyday Beat”


15 – Wyoming Press Association Convention
Webinar: “How to make public affairs coverage relevant and timely”



30 – New England Newspaper and Press Association
Webinar: “Covering Business News in Challenging Times”

30 – California News Publishers Association
“Finding Time for Big Editorial Projects”