Guides for enhancing and extending your resources for reporting, editorial, photojournalism and other content generating areas.

Commas: Now you see them; now you don’t

August 8, 2014

Do you like magic? Commas are the magicians of our language. They can transform the meaning of a sentence.

Giving your sources a preview of the story

August 8, 2014

It’s probably happened to every journalist as least once. You’ve just completed an interview, one that took an extra coaxing to land. As you’re wrapping up, the subject asks, “Could I see a copy of the story before it goes to print?”

Even here in America, grammar can be fun

July 8, 2014

My brother’s English mother-in-law grew up in a culture that values all things proper, but she lives in the U.S., so she’s constantly assaulted by American “anti-grammar,” and she reads my column for relief of the mental anguish it causes. She asked if I dared tackle the usage of lay versus lie. I told her it would likely fall on deaf ears, but I would do it anyway, so here goes:

Be careful not to squelch reader exchange

July 8, 2014

We’ve all received letters that give us pause as to whether they should ever see the light of day on our editorial pages. In the editor’s mind, there are numerous reasons to dismiss the letter out of hand.

‘If someone’s soles are worn thin, he must be doing a good job’

July 8, 2014

If you told Eric NeSmith that his shoes are starting to show some wear and tear, he’d take that as high praise.

Holding court with your news sources

June 9, 2014

A newsroom’s lifeblood is its ability to keep a pulse of the community and deliver timely reports. Uncooperative news sources often create detours and roadblocks.

Family Reading Night The Joy of Reading

June 6, 2014

Each year on the first Friday in March, hundreds of people squeeze into the middle school in Washington, MO, to celebrate the simple pleasure of hearing a book read.


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

May 6, 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.

The Rural Blog is an aggregator of events, trends and ideas

May 6, 2014

My hope in publishing The Rural Blog is to give rural journalists ideas, sources and approaches for their own stories, but you’re certainly welcome to publish the items as stories. I start out with that reminder because of my friend Max Heath’s warning in his column last month about newspapers exceeding the 75 percent ad content rule. If you’re looking for professional, independent and newsworthy material to fill the space between the ads, you’re welcome to use Rural Blog stories, with the same type of proper credit we give to original sources.

Adverbs sometimes behave badly

April 11, 2014

I have an irrational fear of spiders. Most of them can’t hurt me, but I lash out and kill the poor things every time I see one. I like tarantulas though, despite the fact that they could harm me. Maybe their “fur” disguises them as mammals just enough to fool my subconscious and keep me from panicking.

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