"Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues in a Small-Town Newspaper"
Identifying suicide victims and reporting names of suspended high school athletes are among the many challenging news decisions facing community newspapers. This session will teach participants how to handle these stories ethically and professionally. It will emphasize why it's important to print all the news - the good and bad - and will help participants understand the three-part process to effectively handling sensitive stories: Developing the policies, uncovering the facts, and explaining newspaper policies to readers.
"Elements of Outstanding Election Coverage"
Election coverage is one of the most demanding and scrutinized tasks that faces newspapers, especially if readers perceive a newspaper to have a political "bias" on its editorial pages. This seminar helps participants formulate a plan for covering elections - before, during and after - and to think through the impact of their decisions on readers. How do you handle letters to the editor? Why is it a newspaper's responsibility to offer editorial endorsements? What are some tips for election night and post-election coverage? These and other aspects of election coverage are explored.
"Vigorous Editorials: A Community's Conscience"
This workshop focuses on the importance of a strong editorial page and its role in community leadership. Vigorous editorial pages are the conscience of vibrant communities. The seminar identifies the principles integral to effective editorials and editorial pages. It identifies and explores avenues for reader participation on the editorial page. Participants also will learn the importance of using the editorial page to regularly communicate newspaper policies and procedures to readers.
"ABCs of Editorial Writing"
Locally produced editorials are becoming increasingly scarce among community newspapers for a variety of reasons. Editors are challenged enough with everyday responsibilities. Publishers are afraid of offending someone, especially a major advertiser. The task doesn't have to be so foreboding, and editorials don't always have to be structured as "us" vs. "them". But editorials must offer an opinion. This session offers basic and practical steps to gain the confidence to write editorials about the important issues facing your community.
"Developing Sources and Beats"
Confrontations are unavoidable if newspapers are doing their jobs reporting both good and bad news. Relationships don't always have to be rocky; however, connecting with sources is a two-way street. This session offers practical tips on how to develop community beats, and how to foster an understanding so traditional and nontraditional sources will be equally forthcoming with good and bad news.
"Covering Business News, the Good and Bad"
Business news - stories about employers and employees - has a big impact on communities. What happens at the workplace might even overshadow a decision of the local city council. Yet many newspapers struggle for consistent coverage of local business. This session offers practical steps to start on a path of substantive coverage, including helping businesspeople understand the importance of reporting the good news as well as the bad news. Developing business news is an important step toward increased advertising revenue as well.
Public affairs: “How to make meeting coverage relevant and timely”
Coverage of local governing bodies — school board, city council, county board — remains a primary responsibility of community newspapers. But newsrooms must change their approach if they are to engage readers — put more focus on previewing the meetings and report on government actions in terms of the practical impact on readers.