Of all the questions I often get here at the Times, the most common one is one of the most basic: “How do I get something into the paper?”
My basic answer is equally as simplistic. I tell the person that he or she just needs to send it in.
But how? To whom? And what kind of information do we or don’t we need?
There are actually many answers to all of those questions, but here are at least some general answers – and some dos and don’ts, whether folks are looking to send in listings for their or their organization’s upcoming community, photos and items for our weekly Friends & Neighbors page, letters to the editor, sports signups and other such items, or news tips.
What’s the best way to send us information. First and by far the best is via email. I know some folks don’t have or aren’t fluent in computers — and don’t be discouraged; we still welcome those readers who bring items to our office right here at 36 Wittemore St., or who sometimes still submit various items by fax.
But think of it this way: when you send in an item to me or to one of our other editors or coordinators via email, we can simply create a file in our own editorial system, call up your submission, drop it into the new file, and, after reviewing and some editing, send it on its way. In the case of items brought or faxed to the office, our staffers here have to take the submission and retype it into a new file in our system, and that’s frankly how mistakes can happen, especially in the case of a lengthy letter to the editor or other community item.
We’ll also get occasional calls from folks whose GoingsOn or Calendar event is coming up within the next few days, they’ll ask if they can just give us the info over the phone, and our answer is virtually always the same: No.
Why? Why does your community’s newspaper do that?
Because it’s important that we have some type of record that an item has been submitted so we can check back with the person if there are any questions, and so we can have a copy for our own records as an item is perhaps repeated in our community listings, and in case there are any aspects of the item that might be incorrect when the listing appears in the paper.
Who should you contact?
GoingsOn and Calendar items should be sent to our community editors, Christina Parisi (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Joann Mackenzie (email@example.com). Photos can go to photo chief Allegra Boverman (firstname.lastname@example.org), Sports items can be sent to Sports Editor Nick Curcuru (email@example.com). Arts and entertainment news should be sent to staff Writer Gail McCarthy (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to Features Editor Andrea Holbrook (email@example.com). And you can send letters and news tips directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beyond that, here are some other tips for getting your news, photos, letters and other items into the Times.
The best method to submit news by email is by typing or copying your item right into the body of the email. I can’t tell you how many submissions we have not been able to read because the writer sent in an attachment format we could not open.
Check your Calendar and GoingsOn submissions to be sure you’ve told us which organization is hosting an event, and included the date, time and place. And here’s a special tip: If it’s an annual event, don’t just copy last year’s item; the date will be off by one day — and yes, that happens a lot.
Don’t wait until the last minute. We ask for submissions for many features — GoingsOn, Gail McCarthy’s popular “Around Cape Ann” column and others — to be sent two weeks in advance of an event.
Finally, if you’ve submitted a letter or other item and haven’t seen it after perhaps two weeks, give a call. It’s not that we didn’t like it or don’t want to use it; it may be because we’ve misplaced it. There are literally hundreds of news, sports and entertainment stories and community listings in each issue of the Times, and, yes, some can get lost in the shuffle.
Our duty just to bring you the local news of the day. It’s also to help you share the news of your community events and discussion ideas through all of our formats — and we want you to be able to help us do that.
As always, let me know what you think.
Questions? Comments? Is there an issue you’d like to see discussed in a future column? Contact Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000, x3432, or at email@example.com.