Do you want to know how best to get information about your group or organization into the pages of The Sealy News?
If so, read on.
Each week I face the same old conundrum: Do I take the time to edit wordy and poorly worded press releases or skip them in favor of things that are concise and well-written? Actually, it’s my job to edit the stuff that readers send in, so it’s not much of a conundrum at all, unless space in the paper it tight and I have to carefully choose what gets in and what waits a week.
If you want to make sure your submission gets in rather than hold for another week, please consider the following tips.
First and foremost, keep it simple. I can’t stress this enough. Any submission should contain who, what, when, where, why, and how. Here is an example: The Local Nonprofit Agency (who) is holding a fundraiser (what) at 2 p.m. on Aug. 31 (when) at the Local Community Center, 123 Main St. (where) to raise money for charity (why). The agency will sell items and collect donations for the cause (how).
Next, please include contact information, including a phone number, email address, or website, as appropriate. That way if anyone needs more information or wants to register for an event, they can do that.
The next most important thing is to make sure you submit your item in a format that I can copy and paste into a Word document. That means either writing your information directly into the body of an email and/or attaching a Word document in your electronic message to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a computer, please, as much as possible, avoid using PDFs. Some are in a format that permits the ability to copy and paste text, but many are images and do not allow that.
If you have a photo to send, please send it as an attachment to the email as a JPG (JPEG) file. Please do not attach it to a Word document or PDF, as it is more difficult to extract those photos and they lose image quality in the process. Also, please provide the names of people in the pictures. That is important.
As you can see, we rely heavily on email for submissions and the exchange of information. I know not everyone has a computer and for those who don’t, we do welcome submissions that are mailed or dropped off. In those instances, we ask that items be typed or printed legibly.
Although we will take information over the phone, please keep in mind that using the phone is very problematic. For one, I am hard of hearing and I have a difficult time with phones. Secondly, it is very easy to make a mistake with information given over the phone. Third, without written confirmation, we have no way to make sure information given over the phone is correct.
These guidelines also apply to people submitting letters to the editor. We require that the writer include their name and city of residence. In extremely rare instances we will run an anonymous letter, usually to protect the safety of the writer. In any case, no letter writers are anonymous to us. If we don’t know who you are, your letter – or any submission for that matter – will not run. (Remember, even Woodward and Bernstein knew who Deepthroat was.)
The final thing I need to note is our deadlines. We need everything in by Friday for the next week’s paper. I know it seems like a long time before the Thursday paper, but keep in mind that your item, and dozens like it, must be edited, sent to a page designer, and then sent to the press on Tuesday. Most of that work is done on Monday, in addition to things that we have planned ahead to write and report on Mondays. Plus, by Friday afternoon we are planning out the paper and need to know what needs to get in. If we don’t have your information we can’t make plans for it.
I hope that this information will be helpful to you. It’s most definitely helpful to me. In this day and age of instant digital communication, I, like many journalists, do the work that three or four people used to do just a few years ago. We do not have typesetters. I’m it. In addition to editing the paper, I’m also half the reporting staff. My time is limited, as is space in the paper.
We want very much to get your information in print, but to do so we need you to help us out as much as possible. If you have any questions about how to submit something, please feel free to call me (regardless of what I just said about the phones, I can usually carry on a conversation as long as I’m not trying to take notes). I’d rather take two minutes to explain it to you than take 15 to re-write something.
In the meantime, please keep sharing your news. It’s important to us and to the community.