Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

How to Submit Community News

The Saline Reporter held a focus group today and staff handed out materials to participants encouraging a community collaboration in producing the newspaper. Below is one of the handouts. Please join us in reporting community news.

The Saline Reporter
Submitting Your News

Share Your Community News
The Saline Reporter welcomes news releases about upcoming events, articles profiling people of interest in the community, guest columns, community group activities and accomplishments, professional achievements, sports news, and student- and school-related stories. We also appreciate news tips. If you have information to share that you don’t feel comfortable writing yourself, e-mail a synopsis and contact information to editor@salinereporter.com so we can determine whether a reporter should be assigned to follow up.

How to Write A Press Release

Provide the who, what, where, when, why and how.
Who: The Saline Area Historical Society
What: will hold an open house
Where: at Rentschler Farm Museum
When: from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 22
Why: as a benefit for the museum to help pay for utilities and other costs associated with maintaining the building.
How: Volunteers will give tours of the museum and refreshments will be served. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for students. For more information, call 429-7380.

How to Send Your Information
E-mail the press release in Word format or in the body of the e-mail to editor@salinereporter.com. Deadline is 1 p.m. Monday (or Friday if Monday is a holiday), but it’s recommended that you submit it two to three weeks in advance so it can be processed and has as many opportunities as possible for publication before the event.

Submitting Photographs
The Saline Reporter welcomes photographs. A digital format (jpg), high resolution is preferred sent as an attachment in e-mail. Everyone in the photograph must be identified by first and last name, from left. Provide information for a photo caption detailing the image captured, including the who, what, where, when, why and how. Keep in mind that space constraints could mean your photograph won’t be published for a few weeks. You also can share your photographs with readers by uploading them directly to our Web site in a photo gallery housed on Micentral.com, with a link to our site. Simply click on the “photo sharing” button in the right-hand corner of the Web site’s home page. Categories include community, events and festivals, nature scenes, kids, pets and animals, and sports and activities.

Space Limitations
Because of space constraints, there’s no guarantee a news item or photograph will be published, although the news staff will do its best to get in your submission. The only guarantee is an ad, as this space is reserved and paid for. The size of the newspaper is based on an advertising-news ratio. Keep in mind that the more advertising a newspaper has, the more space it creates for news as pages are added. Supporting the newspaper through advertising, whether it’s a 2x3 ad announcing your event or a business advertising its services through a larger ad, means there’s more space for local news.

Web Site Extras
Don’t forget our Web site, which reaches more readers than the newspaper. News updates and breaking news stories are posted several times throughout the week. Also, post your comments on our staff blog, “Inside the Newsroom,” which includes our observations after attending community events, local issues that we want to bring to your attention, news stories we’re working on and other information that we want to highlight, at http://heritageweststaffblog.blogspot.com. There’s a link in the left-hand corner of our home page. In addition, view local videos of community events, sporting events and general news at www.salinereporter.com. In addition, readers may upload their own videos directly to the site by clicking on the video sharing button.

The Milan News-Leader held a focus group Dec. 6 and video of it is on the Web site at www.milannews.com. Below is information on submitting news and photos:

The Milan News-Leader
Submitting Your News
Share Your Community News
The Milan News-Leader welcomes news releases about upcoming events, articles profiling people of interest in the community, guest columns, community group activities and accomplishments, professional achievements, sports news, and student- and school-related stories. We also appreciate news tips. If you have information to share that you don’t feel comfortable writing yourself, e-mail a synopsis and contact information to editor@milannews.com so we can determine whether a reporter should be assigned to follow up.

How to Write A Press Release
Provide the who, what, where, when, why and how.
Who: The Milan Area Historical Society
What: will hold an open house
Where: at the Milan Senior and Community Activities Center, 45 Neckel Court,
When: from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 22
Why: as a benefit for the organization to help pay for its community education efforts.
How: Members will talk about the organization, its efforts and how people can get involved. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for students. For more information, call 429-7380.

How to Send Your Information
E-mail the press release in Word format or in the body of the e-mail to editor@milannews.com. Deadline is 1 p.m. Monday (or Friday if Monday is a holiday), but it’s recommended that you submit it two to three weeks in advance so it can be processed and has as many opportunities as possible for publication before the event.

Submitting Photographs
The Milan News-Leader welcomes photographs. A digital format (jpg), high resolution is preferred sent as an attachment in e-mail. Everyone in the photograph must be identified by first and last name, from left. Provide information for a photo caption detailing the image captured, including the who, what, where, when, why and how. Keep in mind that space constraints could mean your photograph won’t be published for a few weeks. You also can share your photographs with readers by uploading them directly to our Web site in a photo gallery housed on Micentral.com, with a link to our site. Simply click on the “photo sharing” button in the right-hand corner of the Web site’s home page. Categories include community, events and festivals, nature scenes, kids, pets and animals, and sports and activities.

Space Limitations
Because of space constraints, there’s no guarantee a news item or photograph will be published, although the news staff will do its best to get in your submission. The only guarantee is an ad, as this space is reserved and paid for. The size of the newspaper is based on an advertising-news ratio. Keep in mind that the more advertising a newspaper has, the more space it creates for news as pages are added. Supporting the newspaper through advertising, whether it’s a 2x3 ad announcing your event or a business advertising its services through a larger ad, means there’s more space for local news.

Web Site Extras
Don’t forget our Web site, which reaches more readers than the newspaper. News updates and breaking news stories are posted several times throughout the week. Also, post your comments on our staff blog, “Inside the Newsroom,” which includes our observations after attending community events, local issues that we want to bring to your attention, news stories we’re working on and other information that we want to highlight, at http://heritageweststaffblog.blogspot.com. There’s a link in the left-hand corner of our home page. In addition, view local videos of community events, sporting events and general news at www.milannews.com. In addition, readers may upload their own videos directly to the site by clicking on the video sharing button.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Best Christmas light display in town??

The lights are popping all over town. Seems a bit early for my taste, given our family still has my birthday (I love presents) and my son's birthday to celebrate before we launch into Christmas. Have you seen the beautiful lights in front of the historic reddish house on S.
Ann Arbor St? The Harrisons house is one of ten on a historic Homes for the HOliday Tour next Sunday. How about the grand window lights trimming the house a few blocks north on N. Ann Arbor St.? Just beautiful.
My neighbor, Clare has done a smashing job lighting the hardwoods in her front lawn, throwing down the gauntlet for the rest of us suburbanites. Comment here if you see a particularly noteworthy light display in our environ. Also, have you seen any little white lights NOT made in China? Tough to find. Let me know.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gives Us Your Feedback

The Saline Reporter and The Milan News Leader will be holding a series of focus groups with people identified as key communicators in both communities. The news staff will sit down with them to talk about what they want to see in the newspapers, what they enjoy, what they think is missing, how they can participate more in sharing community news and our online efforts, including video and this blog.

While we've sent out invites to people who are top of mind to us, as they share information with us on a regular basis for publication purposes, we want to hear from everybody. Below is the survey we've compiled to gather feedback. Please take the time to fill this out and e-mail it to editor@salinereporter.com or editor@milannews.com. Simply cut the text below and paste it in the body of an e-mail with your reply. If the survey is too long, feel free to answer select questions and respond as a comment on this blog. We look forward to hearing from you.


Q: Were you born and raised in the Saline-Milan area? Y N Age: Gender: M F

Q: Do you currently live in the Saline-Milan area? Y N
If yes, which municipality (city or township) and how long? ______________________

Q: Do you subscribe to the newspaper? Y N

Q: If you get your local news from The Saline Reporter or Milan News-Leader Web site, do you feel it’s comprehensive? If not, what would you like to see online?

Q: Are you aware The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader produce videos of local events and news for Web broadcast? Y N

Q: Do you watch videos on the newspaper’s Web site? Y N

Q: Would you now knowing they’re available? Y N

Q: Are you aware The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader maintain a staff blog in which the reporters and editor write about local topics of interest and readers can post comments? Y N

Q: Are you interested in joining an online conversation with the community and newspaper through a blog? Y N

Q: What newspaper(s) do you read on a regular basis?

Q: What three Web sites do you visit on a regular basis?

Q: Your favorite part of The Saline Reporter or Milan News-Leader is... rank in order from “1” (most favorite) to least favorite: ___Letters to the editor ___Sports ___Features on local residents ___Business stories ___Photographs ___Press releases from the local community ___Press releases from Washtenaw County ___ Other Voices/Guest Columns ___School-related stories ___City-related news ___Police news ___Obituaries ___Weddings, anniversaries and engagement announcements ___Street Talk ___Classifieds

Q: Are you satisfied with the news coverage published in The Saline Reporter or Milan News-Leader?
Totally Usually Seldom Never
Why?

Q: What do you think is missing?

Q: Are you satisfied with the sports coverage? Totally Usually Seldom Never

Q: What do you think is missing?

Q: Are you satisfied with the Community, Living or Noteworthy section (features, calendar, weddings, engagements, anniversaries, births, obituaries)? Totally Usually Seldom Never
Why?

Q: Would you rather see photographs from readers published or quality photographs from a professional photographer?

Q: Do you look at the Neighbors photo page? Y N

Q: The newspaper runs special information sections/pages on a periodic basis. Rank the ones that interest you, from “1” (most interesting) on down:
___Hometown Heroes ___Election Profiles ___Neighbors (photo pages)
___The Ones to Watch (young professionals) ___Food/recipes ___Travel

Q: If you could receive more information in the newspaper about a specific subject or issue, what would that topic be? ___Features about neighbors ___City Council news ___Township board votes ___Local businesses ___Government corruption ___Government worker salaries ___Home decor ___Gardening ___Cooking/recipes ___Interesting hobbies ___Good deeds ___Amazing feats ___Hometown heroes ___Candidates for office ___School happenings ___Kid features ___Other ___All

Q: How important is quality of writing to you?

Q: Would you welcome stories written by readers?

Q: Are you aware you can easily submit information and photographs to the newspaper for publication via e-mail? Y N

Q: How important are maps, graphics, or information pulled from the story and presented in bulleted form?
Very Important Important Somewhat important Not important

Q: How do you determine which story to read first?
Rank the reasons, from “1” (most interesting) on down:
___Size of the headline ___Local significance ___Whether you are familiar with the topic or person profiled
___Police related ___Money/tax related ___Placement in the paper

Q: The newspapers publish special supplements, such as Home and Garden, Women in Business, Bridal Planner, Health and Fitness, Fall Sports, Saline Summerfest and Celtic Festival, inserted in the newspaper. Do you read them? Y N Why?

Q: The newspapers publish a community directory in the spring and a school directory in late summer. Do you read them? Y N
If so, how long do you keep them in your household? One week A few weeks 3 to 6 months 6 months to a year

Q: Do you like to read news from surrounding communities in your newspaper?
Y N

Q: Rank the areas you prefer to read news about in order of importance, with “1” (most important) on down:
___City of Saline ___City of Milan ___Surrounding townships (such as York, Pittsfield, Lyndon, Lodi) ___Washtenaw County ___Ann Arbor ___Outlying cities (such as Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Ypsilanti) ___Wayne County ___Monroe County ___Lansing ___State ___National

Q: When reading a feature story, how important is it to you that the person being profiled is from your community?
Very Important Important Somewhat important Not important

Q: If you could add one thing to The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader newspapers, what would it be?

Additional feedback:

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cancer Touches So Many Lives


It was a jolt of reality and really helped put life into perspective when earlier this year I received an e-mail from a co-worker in our Chelsea office. She said my friend Alison Marable, who I hadn't talked to in months after a falling out, was having surgery the next day to remove cancer. Reading the e-mail took my breath away. My heart just sank. I had no idea Alison had cancer. The last thing I knew, she was on track to receive her master's degree in social work from Eastern Michigan University in the spring.

It only had been a couple months since I had last spoken to Alison and in that short period of time, she was facing the fight of her life. What hurt the most was knowing that the disagreement we had prevented her from sharing this information with me and feeling comfortable leaning on me for support.

I immediately called Alison and asked her what I could do to help. Although I never hesitated to call, our disagreement from months earlier was in the back of my mind and I hoped she would not be stubborn and continue to let it come between us. Fortunately, we both realized life is too short and picked up right where we left off.

That first phone call was scary for me because the only person I knew with cancer died from it. My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer in the summer of 2003 and died a year later. To me, cancer killed. That's all I knew. I feared reconnecting with Alison would put me right back where I was three years earlier, facing the death of a loved one. But I never once thought I'd sit back and pretend I didn't know or care. I had to be there for her and for me.

Fortunately for Alison, me and everyone who knows and loves her, she's doing fine. She is an example to me that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence.

After her surgery, her professors at EMU held a special pinning ceremony for her (see photo above). Now she is moving beyond cancer, degree in hand, with a desire to help others struggling with the disease, and their family and friends. She has launched a series of columns, called "Cancer Declassified," in our newspapers. I am so proud of her and look forward to learning from her insight as she writes on a variety of topics that she hopes will provide support for cancer survivors, while sharing a survivor's perspective with friends, neighbors, co-workers and family of survivors.

Read about Alison's personal struggle and her first column in the Nov. 15 edition of our newspapers, check out her video on our Web site and feel free to share your story or comments on this blog. By people sharing their stories, we will all learn and grow, and become better educated on this disease and better equipped to deal with it.

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It's beginning to look a lot like...

The twinkle lights are up in Saline. Shops have decked their halls and carols are humming in the background of the town's many ADORABLE stores. While the weather feels more like spring, I can't help but get in the mood for Christmas walking around the shops and restaurants near the Reporter office. You'd be nuts not to spend a few hours shopping down here sometime soon. I'll be buying unique (and reasonably priced) teacher gifts at Morrow Steiner, table toppers at Pineapple House and girlfriend gifts at Cobblestone Rose. I'll let the kids again pick out a special ornament at Calico Cat. We're signed up to ring the SAlvation Army kettle bell in Dec at Benny's (go to www.ringwashtenaw to grab a two-hour shift). More on shopping downtown later. Meanwhile, enjoy the beautiful weather. For your calendar: Dec 1 - Saline parade at 5pm. Dec 8 - Christmas at Rentschler's Farm and (NEW) Homes for the Holiday historic home tour on S. Ann Arbor St 1-4pm. Fabulous!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Helping the Library


Who knew a couple sips of wine and beer could do so much good?

Nagle's Market in Milan held a wine- and beer-tasting event Saturday at the Milan American Legion to benefit the Milan Public Library. Organizer Bob Cooper said $1,250 was raised that evening. Library Director Susan Wess and Library Board Treasurer Millard Phillips were on hand to accept the check from Bob Cooper, and Tim and Connie Nagle.

The event attracted a sold-out crowd of 100 people. Julie and Chet Nagle joined representatives from wine and beer distributors pouring samples of wine and beer, and their mother, Connie, made all of the food. The Nagles' grandchildren also helped out, dishing out soup and cleaning up plates and glasses.

The event was a nice evening out for Milan-area residents and business leaders. I saw Milan Area Chamber of Commerce President-Elect Christine Mann, Ed Ochalek of Ochalek-Stark Funeral Home in Milan, Robert Haeske, a chamber board member and owner of Primerica in Milan, and local officials Dan Bishop and Doug Gilson.

I'd like to see more events like this in Milan. Not only was it for a good cause -- raising needed funds for the local library -- but a great marketing effort by a local business, raising its profile in the community, and opportunity for area residents to have a relaxed evening out with like-minded community supporters. video

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Election Day Exciting

For those in the newspaper business, Election Day is full of excitement. We scramble weeks in advance to provide election previews and profiles, so citizens have the knowledge they need to make an informed decision, and on the big day we wait. Sure, sometimes we take photos at the polls and if it's a hotly contested election, we may call poll workers midday to see what the turnout is like so far. But then we wait -- wait for the polls to close and the ballots to be counted. And that's when our job heats up and gets exciting.

On Tuesday, reporters Brian Cox and Jerry Hinnen had the distinct pleasure of covering the polls. I stood by my computer and cell phone waiting for their calls to assist them and get the information online as soon as it broke. Shortly after 8 p.m., Jerry called to announce that Kym Muckler, a former reporter at The Milan News-Leader, had won the mayoral post in Milan. I quickly wrote up something and posted it under "News Update" on our Web site.

A short time later, Jerry called with the vote tallies for the three candidates on the ballot for Milan City Council, but was still waiting for poll workers to count the write-in ballots. Brian updated me a few minutes later with the final tallies and gave me the totals for Saline, as well as news straight from the school board meeting, also held that night, that Saline Superintendent Beverley Geltner, who is on paid administrative leave, reached a settlement with the Board of Education that she would resign effective June 30, 2008, forgoing two years of a three-year contract, in exchange for the board dropping its investigation (See related stories on our Web site and posts on our blog from October). Both stories were posted that evening on the Web site, with the final posts around 10 p.m.

Just as I shut down my computer and headed off to bed, Brian's job revved into high gear as he wrote more extensive stories -- three election wrap-ups (Milan mayor, Milan City Council winners and Saline City Council winners) and the superintendent's settlement -- for our print edition. He wouldn't tell me exactly how late into the night, or how early into the next morning, he worked, but I am sure it was grueling. At the same time, though, I know he loved it because of his passion for community journalism.

Our ability to bring readers breaking news via the Web is exciting and something we will continue to do as technology evolves in our industry. Readers should check our Web site several times a week, if not every day, for news updates, videos, photographs and posts on our blog, as we strive to make The Saline Reporter and The Milan News-Leader your source for local information every single day, not just in print once a week.

In fact, expanding our delivery of local news with a limited staff was the topic I had the pleasure of speaking about last month at a newspaper conference organized by our parent company, the Journal Register Co. I told editors at newspapers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio and Michigan about our efforts in Saline to blog, break news online and, in particular, post local videos. We have been uploading videos of local festivals, football games, athletes, political candidates, business leaders and various local events since April.

Many editors asked me how we did it with such a small staff, already stretched thin, not only reporting the news, but taking photographs, designing pages and proofreading. All I could say is that I've been lucky. All three -- Jerry, Brian and Sue G. Collins -- have been enthusiastic about shooting video, blogging and posting breaking news stories.

At the conference, we were also encouraged to solicit more content from the community and share it with online readers. To that end, I encourage you to post your own videos and photographs at http://micentral.mycapture.com/mycapture/photos/Category.aspx?CategoryID=22623, which can be accessed through our Web site, as well, by clicking on the button in the top, right-hand corner of our home page. Also, please post your comments on our blog, write letters to the editor, contribute guest columns, submit news from your community groups and organizations, and help us continue to be the best source for community information.

Remember, the newspapers and their Web sites serve as a forum for local residents to express their views and concerns, share their successes and discover news about their community they might not know of or are not getting the full story about. Help us make the excitement of Election Day every day for us and readers.

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