Ask An Expert

Have a question?  We’ll be glad to try to get you an answer. Ask your question below — we’ll only use your question on our site if you give us permission. Otherwise, we’ll call or email you back with an answer.
(Click here to view all Ask an Expert Posts)

Ask an expert

Ask an expert

Drop a file here or click to upload Choose File
Maximum upload size: 52.43MB
Upload any files you'd like us to look at as part of your question

About You

Even if you don't want to be identified when we post the answer online later, we'd like to know who you are.
If we think others can benefit from this question, we'll post it to our site. Let us know if you don't want your name used.

Ask An Expert

When local agencies don’t notify us of news releases and or a press conference, more than once, what is the best course of action?

Unfortunately, there is no legal requirement that notices and press releases be distributed evenly. If a quorum of officials is present, a public notice must be posted at the appropriate place but there is no posting requirement for a press conference. I’d recommend that your first course of action would be to sit down with

What can we do to combat free classified sites such as Craigslist?

Todd from the Wise County Messenger asks: Craigslist seems to be getting perilously close to our area, not to mention a local blogger has set up his own free classifieds system. What can we do to try and combat this? One thing to understand about the new classifieds market online — and the Internet in

Do I have to tell government officials why I want information when I make an open records request?

No. The Texas Public Information Act does not allow government officials to ask why you want the information. I generally find that a very polite response – with an emphasis on polite – noting that the law doesn’t allow them to ask will generally put an end to that line of questioning. According to the

I was asked to run for City Council because I have so much knowledge about community issues. Do I have an ethical problem if I run?

Most definitely. It is called conflict of interest. Editors of both large and small papers are often confronted with this dilemma. Louis Day, in his textbook Ethics in Media Communications, defines a conflict of interest as a “clash between professional loyalties and outside interests.” In this case, the clash would be between your responsibilities as

Are city employees’ salaries public information or are they protected for personal privacy?

The Texas Public Information Act makes it very clear that the salaries of public employees are “public information and not excepted from disclosure” [Texas Local Gov’t Code §552.022(a)] under the act. Specifically, in the section defining categories of information that are public, included are “the name, sex, ethnicity, salary, title, and dates of employment of

Are spec ads more trouble than they’re worth?

Successful (and experienced) newspaper ad salespeople know and will tell you that spec ads can be very powerful, and once in place, they help the selling process proceed to a close, resulting in an ad in your newspaper. Don’t think that spec ads are for new advertisers only. Rethink your spec ad selling strategy and

Are court records covered by Texas public information laws?

No. They are open to the public but not because of the state’s open government laws. Court records are considered public documents under common law. That means a person can view documents during reqular business hours at the district clerk’s office or in other specified offices where those records are kept at the county courthouse.

It feels like I’m all over the place, do you have any suggestions on how to manage my sales territory?

Managing your sales territory to generate additional revenue for you and your paper is not a case of working harder, but working smarter. Here are seven suggestions to get you headed in the right direction: ‘What is it you are trying to manage?’ Do you want to increase ad revenue, account count, development of a

Some parents posted sports photos of their kids on Flickr. Can we just grab a couple for the paper?

Not so fast…just because they are “out there for everyone to see for free” doesn’t automatically give you the green light to run them as you please. While the first amendment grants us great leeway and courts have determined that prior restraint isn’t allowed (with rare exception…troop movements, etc.) this doesn’t give you carte blanche

Sometimes the direct quotes in my stories look dull when they hit the paper. How can I come up with better quotes?

It’s always frustrating to read direct quotes from local officials that really don’t add much to the stories, such as when a local city or county official, trying his or her best to stay on point, is asked for reaction to a local measure that just passed and says, “We think this is in the

I’m not very good at cold calling. Do you have any suggestions?

I can easily understand where you are coming from, having been there early in my career. Don’t give up yet! It’s easy (and fun!) to make cold calls, if you warm them up beforehand. How do you do that? By visiting your potential advertiser before making the initial sales contact and by being prepared. The

My Adobe Illustrator program will not let me save files as .ai (Illustrator) files. I get an “unknown error” message every time that I try to save that way. Help?

When it comes to software and hardware problems I always try to find a short-term action and a long-term strategy. Short-term Action What you describe indicates it is most likely a preferences problem. Somehow, over a period of time, the preferences file has been corrupted and you will need to either delete/recreate the preferences folder