As the community newspaper in Manchester, I understand that we at the Manchester Times are going to get some off-the-wall submissions for the newspaper.
Some of the submissions I get are, well, let’s say they are a little off the mark. Some are excellent. I want to let you know what you need to do to get something published in your community newspaper.
Better yet, perhaps I should give you a list of how to NOT get published in the paper and I think you will be able to figure out the rest.
Be messy. Over the years I have learned to decipher ridiculous shorthand that is so far off from anything I learned it’s almost a new language. But I’ve really stopped trying to do that because chances are, with a scribbled mess on a half-used napkin next to a photo, I’ll not be able to transcribe all of the submission and will publish bad information or have just wasted my time.
It’s almost like submitting a resume – if it has a typo and you are applying to be a copy editor, don’t expect a phone call. Same goes for submissions for the newspaper for announcements or news – if it’s messy, I’ll probably just throw it away. Sorry.
Go over my head. As in most all things in life there is a chain of command in the newspaper business. I answer to publishers and presidents of the company. I really hate this line when people call: “Yeah did you get what I submitted? I didn’t send it to you but the president of the company and I are great friends I just went ahead and sent it to him since we played golf together one time way back a few months ago in different groups.”
Good job name dropping. Bad job submitting something you really want in a good location in the paper. Not that I would lose your submission on purpose, but things do get misplaced …
Tell me how to do my job. Look, I watch “Criminal Minds” religiously but I generally don’t march into the Manchester Police Department and tell police chief Mark Yother how to do his job. I also am a fan of “Law and Order” but I don’t tell every lawyer in town how to practice law.
I think you see where I am going.
I take suggestions and I try, as well as anyone can, to take constructive criticism well because I’m not perfect and anything I can do to make the newspaper better for you I am for. But, I don’t take well to demands of how I should handle your particular submission. I know that birth announcement is the biggest news in the world to you but I’m sorry I can’t put it on page one. I want everyone’s submissions to be accepted and printed, but we do have protocols.
Submit incomplete information. I had a photo emailed to me not too long ago that was just a photo and a name. It did not say what this person was doing. Why they were in the picture. Or why they had an extremely painful look on their face.
I’m not sure what I was supposed to do with that. Curiously, I did take the time to email the sender and request some more information and I did eventually get it. Unfortunately, on a busy day or in a busy news week I may not have time to return an email very quickly. So please, submit complete information including the basic who, what, when, where and why with a phone number so I can reach you.
I hope we have learned something. Keep your submissions coming and we will keep trying to get them in the newspaper.
-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He is a Tennessee Press Association award-winning writer and photographer. His column, “From the editor’s desk” won TPA first-place honors for best personal humor column. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29