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Small paper editorial guidelines

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Cadet, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    I'm currently at a small paper. This is a new gig for me.

    I'm quickly realizing the need to have established editorial guidelines regarding written submissions, courtesy photos, corrections and the like.

    My predecessor had some rules of thumb but nothing written, and my ME really doesn't care what I do as long as he can go home early.

    I have an idea of what I want, but I would like input from others who have been there before.

    Those of you at small papers, do you have something concrete you can point to when the Soccer Moms bitch? What are those policies?
  2. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    Don't start printing corrections about stupid crap that was omitted from provided copy. It's a slippery slope.
  3. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Never print anything regarding cheerleaders. It opens the door to dance, and drill team, and flag team, and every other fricking thing under the sun.

    What needs to be done -- and I can't get my bosses to let me do here -- is to publish a sport/ not sport list. Anything that you might possbly do a feature on to fill a lazy June day makes the list. Anything that doesn't you don't take copy on.

    I'll have more thoughts later, but that one's at the top of my list.
  4. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    Note: We don't have a dedicated special section/day of the week for youth sports, so whatever we get ends up running in the regular section. If you are able to swing a youth sports section, your life will be immeasurably simpler.

    • Accepted submissions will run as space allows, and in the order in which they are received. If your submission is received during high school sports season, you may have to wait a while. If you want a guaranteed run date, buy an ad.
    • Submitted photos must be of newspaper quality -- in focus, tasteful, not back-lit and either digital files or high-quality scannable prints.
    • All submitted copy must be type-written or legibly printed. Faxed cursive is of t3h Dehbul. Please leave contact information if the staff has questions regarding your submission.
    • Athletes in said submissions must reside within the coverage area and/or have graduated from a high school or university in the coverage area.
    • Bribery, while encouraged, will not get your submission in the paper any faster.

    Above all, consistency is the key. All it takes is one Packrat Parent to dig out a few old copies and say, "Well, you ran photos for the Fifeton Faffers and their league tournament. We won districts!" for the floodgates to open. Once they're open, the gates are damn hard to shut.
  5. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    The first rule I've had is about photos (requested or submitted) because that drove me craziest first.  Our policy now is that team photos won't be run unless it is a provincial championship-winning community team, a city championship high school team, or a team that's a completely new entity in town (i.e. our first lawn bowling team).

    Following that in our photos policy, which also later became a submissions policy for copy and scores, anything that's more than a week old is dismissed out of hand.  If you can't report in timely matter, we won't go out of our way to get your kids into the paper.  Surprisingly it has worked fairly well.

    Also, if it's a house league thing where there are multiple divisions, i.e. our kids won the Novice title and want something in, I'm not doing it unless it's coordinated that all divisions have the opportunity.

    I also have a rule that reports must include full names or they aren't printed, and where possible, details about both teams and the games they played.  It has to be relevant, even if it goes in agate. And I reserve the right to edit and rewrite any submission as much as I like. We also offer submission forms, asking for the info we want.

    Generally, my rule for staffing is the fewer teams playing an event or the more elite the level, the more staffing they get.  Junior hockey or junior ball is a priority - one team, high interest.  So are all the high school teams, and we do offer fairly equal coverage to all of them -senior and junior.  Beyond that,  rep sports take precedent over house league and my motto is that youth sports get increasing coverage in playoff time.  

    Choice of sport is sort of a tough one.  It would be hard to put in an official policy that we cover football instead of volleyball because people actually give a damn.  Thankfully, no one has pushed me on those calls much.

    Most parents, when we've explained our rules, have been good with them. I agree that consistency is the hallmark. My editor and publisher want to give in and I hate the notion.
  6. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    As a joke, you should add "sucks cock" or something after some kid's name, just to see if the person after you laughs at the joke.
  7. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    They want to give in to the parental hordes? Fine.

    Make sure you describe, in graphic detail, all the extra space you're going to need when you start receiving a team photo for every division champion in every rec league. There's no reason for those folks to buy an ad, either, since they're getting their space for free through your management's kamikaze benevolence.
  8. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Well, considering there is no person after me, that's probably not a joke I want to try.  I think my rules and I would find ourselves out the door... and the next reporter might find the joke funny, at my expense.

    If I were to write jokes into the copy, I'd have to be a little more deft with my protocol, like secret codes in my headlines or something...  Fantastic underclassman captures karate meet enthusiasm   That sort of stuff.
  9. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Oh, been there, done that. I've gotten to the point where my editor will just send the people right to me and let me be the bad guy.  No, it's not as good as backing me up would be, but at least he's learning the value of the rules. 

    The publisher on the other hand, we just pray that we get to the issue before someone goes over our heads because it is a lost cause then — she caves really easily, and when we try to explain the concept of people buying the ad, it usually comes around full circle anyway.

    (And so far, my rule for rec leagues has worked brilliantly. There has yet to be one of these parents who is so incessant about their kid that they want to spend the time to coordinate with the other teams. Of course, that's probably because they can still go to the other rag in town who will print any damn thing they get.)
  10. TrooperBari

    TrooperBari Well-Known Member

    That's some real crackerjack support you're getting there, chief.

    Does your publisher know, or even care, caving for one wonky SportsParent paves the way to caving for all SportsParents? Maybe an entire page of three-column volleyball team photos would drive the point home.
  11. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    I like the idea of "if one, then all" for league submissions. That's a headache I haven't encountered yet, but now I know how to handle it.
  12. RedCanuck

    RedCanuck Active Member

    Perhaps it would, but then, she's really getting up there in age and half the time I don't think she reads the paper. Then, if she does, we'd probably get some comment about how it was nice we got all those pictures in there. ::)
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