Tread carefully when requiring down payment for democracy 9/18/18

By Jim Pumarlo

My hometown newspaper instituted a new policy requiring that readers "pay" for the First Amendment right to express, and explain why, who or what they support or oppose at the voting booth.

The newspaper is sadly is not the first and won't be the last to begin charging readers for election endorsement letters. As a former editor, I appreciate the arguments presented for enacting the policy. It's still disappointing, and I respectfully disagree.

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Stick to the basics: Present all sides of the story 1/23/18

By Jim Pumarlo

Most reporters can likely relate to this scenario. Someone speaks up at a public meeting to unleash criticism about an individual or organization. Reporters have little difficulty presenting a balanced report – recording all sides of the story – if the accused is at the meeting.

But what happens if the individual is not present? And what if deadlines do not permit time to get the other side of the argument?

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This time, privacy outweighs right to know 8/15/17

By Jim Pumarlo

Public records are the foundation for reporting a range of stories important to your readers.

Readers often ask why newspapers stand firm on access to and publication of these records. It's much like the proverbial "if you give an inch, they'll take a mile."

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Hold editorials to highest standard 4/25/17

By Jim Pumarlo

A common element to the most effective editorials is that they leave an impression or prompt a reaction. In contrast, nondescript editorials are easily forgotten.

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Are you ready for the new year? Take an inventory 2/21/17

By Jim Pumarlo

Are you ready for 2017? All newsrooms should prepare an editorial calendar and review it regularly. Many of the things you cover are the same year in and year out. Use the opportunity to explore new approaches for coverage.

Think across the spectrum of your community. Here are three areas.

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Use digital tools to enhance, not replace, tenets of solid reporting 8/30/16

By Jim Pumarlo

Meeting reader needs requires editors and reporters to multitask, and challenges are ratcheted up in today's digital newsroom. Here are a handful of elements – and accompanying digital tools – for ensuring your news product remains relevant to your readers and advertisers.

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Think carefully before posting the 'final word' 5/9/16

By Jim Pumarlo

Think twice – even three times – before adding a P.S. to a letter to the editor. Postscripts may give you a "feel good" sensation in the short term, but they can have long-term consequences in relationships with your readers, and rarely for the better.

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Facing a tough call? Talk it out 1/18/16

By Jim Pumarlo

Newspapers routinely face challenging decisions. Should we run this photo? Should we accept this ad? Should we report on every monthly meeting of a local activist group? The discussions are always enlightening, forcing everyone to rethink positions and crystallize their arguments.

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You want to stay relevant? Be accessible 11/17/15

By Jim Pumarlo

A newspaper's credibility is directly linked to its ability to identify, collect and report the relevant community news. Then why do so many newspapers make it so difficult for readers to connect with reporters?

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