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Everyday Ethics by Jim Pumarlo

Jim Pumarlo writes, speaks and provides training on community newsroom success strategies. He is author of “Journalism Primer: A Guide to Community News Coverage,” “Votes and Quotes: A Guide to Outstanding Election Coverage” and “Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues in Small-Town Newspapers.” He can be reached at www.pumarlo.com and welcomes comments and questions at jim@pumarlo.com.

What’s happened to nuts and bolts of public safety reporting?

Crime and public safety are garnering more headlines across the country. Law enforcement and racial disparities in the criminal justice system are under increasing scrutiny. Newspapers play a key role ...

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Use your special insight to recommend election choices

If the newspaper as a community institution advocates for or against a position taken by an elected body, why not advance equally strong convictions about the people who ultimately will make those decisions?

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Seize opportunity to moderate election noise

Newspapers should step up and fill the void — use your community knowledge to provide an inside look at candidates, to set a framework for constructive debate on issues. It takes work, and now is ...

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Examine, evaluate reporting shortcuts

Editors and reporters necessarily must explore and implement shortcuts, but you should keep two questions at the forefront: Are you really saving time considering the extra legwork that might be required ...

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Are you ready for the new year? Take inventory, prepare calendar

Many of the things you cover spanning hard news and features are the same year after year. Use the opportunity to explore new ideas and approaches for coverage. When is the last time you’ve really ...

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Don’t rely on advisories to be first with the news; engage in social media

All newsrooms should set aside time to identify and share the social media platforms most relevant to and visible in a community.

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Educate and engage readers with public affairs reporting

The strongest meeting coverage boils down to three steps. 

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Don’t let shortcuts thwart quality content

Many newsrooms, already strained by lean staffs, have seen resources exacerbated by the economic toll of the coronavirus. Circumstances have prompted editors and reporters to take shortcuts in gathering ...

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The ‘blue shirt’ won — is that the best we can do?

“Nameless” photos always have bothered me. When I sat behind the editor’s desk, photographers and reporters knew better than to submit photos without identification. The unfortunate ...

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Are you telling your own stories?

Journalists climb this wall every day, I replied. Community newspapers are far from perfect, I added, but said I find it disappointing and misleading when community press gets branded under the broad brush ...

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Special projects energize staff, community

But special projects also can mean generating more substantive reports in everyday news. These projects can be just as “big” in terms of providing expanded coverage. And they can be done without ...

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Sharpen your editing with these press releases

Such exchanges are commonplace at all levels of government as omnibus bills are cobbled together to include anything and everything. It makes great campaign fodder for incumbents and challengers alike ...

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Start benchmarking performance of politicians

That’s why election coverage should not shut down when the winners are announced. It’s a worthwhile exercise for staffs to review the election edition periodically and refresh themselves about ...

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A salute to those who wave the editorial banner

I have a passion for vibrant, local editorials. I believe energized, local editorials are at the foundation of energized communities. The Golden Quill recognizes the top 12 editorials written among nondailies. The ...

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Initiate conversations with your readers

Fresh off a contentious election season, this is an excellent time to review and identify ways to communicate with readers. Election coverage always prompts questions from readers on everything from candidate ...

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Make public affairs coverage relevant and timely

Editors and reporters constantly evaluate how they deliver the news, especially when it comes to public affairs. The most meaningful stories are those that interpret the practical impact of policy-making. ...

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Don’t close books just yet on 2020 elections

Most readers were likely fixated these past months on the presidential matchup. In the end, however, community newspapers should remember they are the primary source of information for local races. That’s ...

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Execute your strength: Put names, faces behind the stories

Developing relationships with subscribers and advertisers is imperative to success in today’s fractured media landscape. The stakes are even higher as many newspapers navigate the economic impact ...

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Pandemic no excuse for lazy reporting

Logistics are demanding enough to connect with your regular corps of newsmakers. Then consider everyday readers — the local names and faces who provide so many distinctive stories — who may ...

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