Local newspaper can be a great first step to publication credits and writing success. Focus on the Section that most fits your interest. Become familiar with the section read articles regularly. Reading others articles helps you learn what subjects they prefer. Reading article titles in each section can familiarize you with the style. Keep informed about local and area issues. What one of these issues pushes a hot button or gets an emotional reaction, write down some thoughts. Take a positions on the hot issue, clearly present points in support of that position of the event covered.
Editorials: The opinion page is a good place to start. Find out what the newspaper politics are by contacting their website, or call the editorial staff and ask request their guidelines. Find out how often they accept guest writer’s opinion pieces, word limits and submissions deadlines. For example, the Amarillo Globe-news (website) owned by Morris Communications, has a guest editorial policy of one article per quarter, 600-800 words, due three workings days before publication. Others will have different guidelines.
Letters to the Editor: Letters to the Editor in response to a column are a great way to begin when the competition is stiff to get an op-ed column accepted. After an editorial page accepts several letters, they will be more likely to print the writer’s editorials. The editorial staff will feel more confident that it knows the piece will meet their standards, and most editorial pages prefer to print newcomers because it chooses a wider relationship.
Hone Your Writing Skills: Talk to other writers. Take a writing class online or at a local college. Call, or write a letter to local
columnists who appear in the newspaper. Most are happy to help an aspiring writer. Always have someone else read through work before submitting. It’s easy for a writer to miss typos or mistakes, even with spell-check and grammar check features on word-processing programs. Another set of eyes can easily spot holes in argument.
Human Interest and Events: News stories are generally written by professional journalist working for the newspaper publisher. Consider other sections of the paper for possible contribution, such as Around Town, Community Activities, the Religion section, recipes, Home and Garden, or other unique sections that are in a local news paper. Do these sections have reader letters? Do they take interviews or articles from local guest writers? These sections are great options to get work published. They supply a variety of subjects with a broad range of styles to explore.
If local schools, churches, or community organizations are having an event, offer to cover the event for the newspaper as a freelancer. Keep informed with a community calendar, don’t give up, keep submitting and stay in a “willing to learn” mind-set. Expand the search to areas or regional newspapers. Don’t ignore the news paper because it’s too obvious. Try writing something for it anyway. It could become a base for a lucrative writing career.
By Dianne G. Sagan