Newspapers must operate as a business to carry out their First Amendment function

This past weekend my plans included a much-anticipated trip to the movies to see “The Post.” Starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, the movie chronicles a time involving the Pentagon Papers and The Washington Post’s decision to publish them. Facing legal battles up to an injunction to cease publication by the Supreme Court, the paper

20 tips on covering speeches and meetings

You are the eyes, ears and brains for your audience when you cover a City Council, County Commissioners or a school board meeting. The following 20 tips help you produce an accurate, informative news story on deadline.  These tips also work for speeches and panels. Use a smartphone and a notebook Take a photo of

Looking at the future of community newspapers

Editor’s Note:  This blogpost was a speech given by Al Cross at a meeting of the Texas Press Association in January 2018 in Galveston. . . . First time I’ve been to Galveston, but have been to Texas many times, and always feel at home here; maybe it’s because your state was settled mainly by

Stick to the basics: Present all sides of a story

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?

If your new year’s resolution is to improve your writing, here’s a good place to start

If your new year’s resolution involves improving your writing, here’s a good place to start – an idea you may not have considered: It sounds almost counterintuitive. Reporters who want to become better writers often think in terms of classes or workshops or coaching by veteran writers.  And all of those are good things. But

New research study on issues facing community newspapers is worth reading

This column is usually about issues that rural newspapers can and should cover, but if you’re a rural editor or publisher, you have an issue of your own: adapting to the digital age. The Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism is exploring how technology is changing journalism and the

Community newspapers needed to provide a voice for rural America

A year ago this month, Donald J. Trump surprised most of the world and probably himself by winning the presidential election. He couldn’t have done it without rural America. The numbers in the exit polls were clear.  Trump won 62 percent of the rural vote, more than any modern president.  And here’s the statistic that

Playoffs are around the corner: Here are some ideas for improving your sports coverage

With the high school football playoffs almost on us and prep basketball about to tip off, now is about as good a time as any to consider again about how to beef up your online sports readership. And while it may seem sometimes you’re having to rob Peter to pay Paul when it comes to

We need to be ready to prove that print ads work

When it comes to advertising sales, we’re still stuck in the 1980s. How do we know? Because we’re still trying to sell space for ads in the newspaper – and we’re trying to sell to folk who don’t necessarily believe that print ads are effective. So that means your ad sales team will often need

Newspaper mottoes and slogans: Helping to brand your editorial product

Does your newspaper have a motto? Or a slogan? Do you know the difference? Mottoes, slogans and marketing pitches were common in the days when most big newspapers had competition, as they tried to give themselves a distinguishing character. As the big newspaper markets became monopolized, there was less need for them, but now, when