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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.

Are you transparent in your operations?

The principle is equally applicable to newsroom operations. Do you practice what you preach?

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Robust public affairs coverage requires more than recording meetings

My formula for shaping newspaper content is straightforward: Present a blend of stories that people like to read and stories they should read. Under the “should read” category, consider me ...

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Go beyond ‘votes and quotes’ when delivering election results

In short, newspapers put incredible resources into laying the groundwork for elections, but then they often fall short in translating what voters said. This is an excellent time to think how best to examine ...

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Keep eye out for 11th-hour election volleys

The stakes are ramped up even higher in the final weeks as candidates and their camps seek to level charges at the last possible moment in press releases and letters to augment — or maybe even replace ...

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How are you doing? Ask your readers

How often do you ask for a direct critique of your news content, the very lifeblood of your product? When is the last time you asked the subjects of a news story what they thought of a report?

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Plan now to recognize first responders

Are you looking for a project that can energize your news staffs, generate new advertising revenue and underscore the value of a local newspaper to potential new subscribers? Mark Oct. 28 ... 

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Single-source stories too often miss the mark of solid journalism

A regular flow of press releases demands editors’ everyday attention. The communications, in varying degrees, play a role in newspaper content. Their value looms even larger in today’s landscape ...

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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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