Jim Pumarlo, Community Newspaper Training
 
 

During election season, pay attention to who’s delivering the message

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Publishers' Auxiliary/May 2014 A regional arts council distributes funds to local artists, courtesy of a grant from the state arts board. A start-up company gets a boost from a venture capital fund. A local bike trail will finally connect two cities, thanks to support from a new state trails program.

Business news much more than grand openings

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Publishers Auxiliary/September 2007 A discussion of business news inevitably prompts editors to focus on routine Main Street occurrences. A clothing store celebrates its grand opening. A restaurant opens, offering a distinctive cuisine. A flower shop celebrates its 25th anniversary. These stories, though worthy of recognition, underscore an underlying point. Business news is much broader than those items which typically qualify for chamber of commerce newsletters. Coverage should be incorporated in the everyday news menu.

Editorials can serve variety of purposes

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Minnesota Newspaper Association Bulletin/September 2007 A newspaper has a responsibility, say, to identify all stores fined for selling cigarettes to underage youths, especially if the fines are assessed at a city council meeting. Nevertheless, the story will likely draw wrath from the businesses and from their employees. In contrast, a newspaper can be selective in topics it addresses on its editorial page. The positions are not welcomed by all, such as the decision to endorse or oppose a housing development or a school closure.

Press rights: citizens' everyday eyes and ears

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Distributed as a guest editorial by the Minnesota Newspaper Association in observance of Sunshine Week, March 11-17, 2007 Convene a discussion about press rights, and most people likely conjure up scenarios of editors and reporters at loggerheads with government officials over access to top-secret data. No doubt, that can be the case. On the national stage, we witness the Washington press corps pursuing information surrounding U.S. military initiatives in Iraq.

Candidate endorsements still provide benefits to newspapers

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The Inlander/Jan. 8, 2007 Quiz a roomful of editors and reporters on their most memorable editorials. The noteworthy ones invariably deliver messages targeted toward specific decision-makers who are in position to debate and craft public policy.

Don't close the books on the 2006 elections

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The American Editor - American Society of Newspaper Editors/March 2007 Mention election coverage in the aftermath of the midterm contests, and most newsrooms will likely turn a collective deaf ear. Yet this is the perfect time ñ before the files are formally closed - for editors and reporters to evaluate how they performed in 2006 and to identify steps for improved coverage in 2008. As a start, convene a brainstorming session to review and reflect on some of the basic aspects of election coverage. For example:

Rules of Endorsement

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Editor & Publisher Shoptalk (on-line edition)/December 2006 Coverage of the coming 2008 elections is already building. But it's vital to consider, at the same time, that editorial endorsements in local elections are becoming increasingly scarce among community newspapers. Newspapers like to tout their role as government watchdogs, so endorsing local candidates should be routine -- and free of pressure from "local interests."

Ethical situations should be part of your training

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Publishers Auxiliary/August 2006 Readers want assurances that stories are accurate, fair and not tainted by ethical lapses. A single error in judgment - Jayson Blair's fabrications at the New York Times, for example — damages the believability of that newspaper and all the press in general.

Elements of outstanding election coverage

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Publishers Auxiliary/May 2006 Election coverage is demanding and filled with potential pitfalls, especially in community newspapers where resources always are stretched to the limits and where editors face a battery of ongoing decisions and questions. Candidates regularly seek attention for their campaigns. It begins with the day they announce their intentions, and will continue with requests to publish press releases and photos.

Report feats, flaws of high school athletes

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Worthington High School forfeited its football opener this fall as school officials feared whether an inexperienced squad would be in physical jeopardy against its opponent. The team was shorthanded after "a large number of players" were suspended for drinking. The Worthington Daily Globe reported the story, minus player identities. The challenge in verifying student suspensions underscores one of the most illogical laws governing the privacy of Minnesotans.

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