Chapter Resources

Make Your Chapter Publication a Must-Read

Dr. Max Utsler, associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas, shared the following information and suggestions at the 2005 Chapter Newsletter Editors Session in Orlando:

Reporting smart

  • Chapter publications need a lead story to attract the reader’s attention
  • Present content in a consistent fashion so the reader becomes familiar with the layout
  • Include a teaser on the cover of the publication to draw the reader’s interest

Generate new story ideas and content

  • Rotate columns from board members
  • Report on current chapter events
  • Include case studies or articles about how your members have solved a problem or developed an innovative idea for their facility
  • Recruit people to write articles for your publication (Example: contact your local college, university or high school and ask students to write articles. It will provide them with writing experience. You could also provide nominal compensation to them).
  • Know your audience
  • When conducting interviews, ask questions that answer the “5 Ws”: who, what, when, where, why and how.
  • Follow the GOSS process:
    • Goal – what is the purpose for writing the article
    • Obstacle – what obstacles are you likely to encounter while collecting information for the article?
    • Solution – create alternative solutions in case the article can’t be produced as originally planned
    • Start – decide what happens next to complete the article

Writing smart

  • Write creative headlines that attract the reader’s attention
  • Use actionable verbs
  • Avoid “weather” leads. (Do not begin your story with a statement about the weather).
  • Avoid “time” leads. (Do not begin your story with a statement about the date when the event occurred).
  • Follow the Wall Street Journal method:
    • Lead
    • Bridge – provides a transition from the lead into the story
    • Quote – provides a second transition to the end of the story
    • Nut graf – include a 2-3 sentence summary of the story
  • Answer the questions: “Why am I writing this story?” and “Why am I writing it now?”
  • Include bylines (name and title) at the end of the story
  • Avoid long quotes
  • When writing a member profile, start with a news element. Avoid telling the story in chronological order. ESPN the Magazine provides good examples of profile articles.

 

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