Survey offers tips for submitting news items

Saturday, July 15, 2017

58 journalists from four states share input

A new survey of journalists in the four-state area suggests the best way to get an article, media release, or news story in print is to do everything possible to make life easier for the local editor or reporter.

"That means well-written, concise submissions that emphasize a local connection and news copy that does not need a lot of editing," said David Burton, civic communication specialist for University of Missouri Extension.

Burton conducted the survey in late 2016, and gathered input from 58 journalists and newspaper editors in the four-state area of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas,

Based on that input, the second most important thing to do is to meet deadlines.

"If you represent an organization or business that will be making regular submissions to a media outlet, meet with the editor or beat reporter to ask about deadlines. It is also a good idea to ask about personal preferences regarding submissions and delivery methods," said Burton.

Burton says the tips are a great tool for any community leader or volunteer that works with the local news media or seeks to publicize community events.

It is always best to submit typed articles. If a community volunteer has to submit something that is hand-written make sure it is legible. The editor must be able to read it order to use it. If the information can be submitted by email or in another digital form, that is even better.

"In this Extension survey, editors also suggested letting the local newspaper know at least a week in advance if something notable will be happening. It is also a good idea to find out what topics interest your local editor and to respect the editor's local news judgment," said Burton.

Stay in touch with the local editor but do not call only when a favor is needed or a complaint needs to be shared. At the same time, remember editors have other stories to work on.

Five other suggestions from local editors: use statistics when possible, provide strong local content, use bullets to attract interest, list sources and alternative sources for follow-up, and consider doing follow-up stories on events.

"Especially with weekly newspapers, Monday is typically the busiest day of the week," Burton said. "Avoid going by or delivering information on Monday if at all possible."

For more information about writing media releases, order a copy of Burton's book: Newswriting for Non-journalists, available on