Getting into the Gazette
Most organizations and clubs want news of their activities published in the newspaper to make the community aware of worthwhile things they are doing. Many individuals also have story ideas or information they want printed in the Gazette. Not everyone, however, knows the best way to arrange for publication. We hope this page will help you.
It's the job of editors to decide whether a story should go in the newspaper. Newspapers have editors in charge of various departments such as news, sports, lifestyles, arts and entertainment and photography and graphics. It is useful to know the editors of the sections because they can give helpful advice. If you're unsure of which section you want to deal with, contact the city desk, which deals with the public the most.
Editors whom you may want to contact at the Gazette are:
Usually organizations are interested in two types of stories. The first is short announcements of meetings and events that appear in listings of community, church or entertainment events. These items are easy to get into print. Here's how to do it: Put it in writing. A postcard will do. Give yourself plenty of time. It may take a couple of days for mail delivery. Give some indication -- and leeway -- of when you want the information published. For example, ask that the news item appear during the week of March 21. You can mail the information, fax it or drop it off in the Gazette newsroom.
- The Charleston Gazette 1001 Virginia St. E. Charleston, WV 25301
- Fax information to (304) 348-1233
- Send e-mail to gaze...@wvgazette.com
We will make every effort to get your information printed as soon as possible. List a name and phone number of someone who can be reached during working hours in case there are any questions. Remember that because of the number of organizations and space limitations, your announcement will be published free only one time.
The events you want publicized should be open to the public and not organizational matters, such as committee meetings and private parties.
Often groups have a special project or program that they believe merits a longer story. Perhaps a special speaker is coming to town or an organization is celebrating an anniversary. And individuals may know of people or events that they believe would make an interesting story. Here are some hints on how to get a feature story published. Call and check with an editor about your idea well in advance of the event. For news stories, call the city desk at 348-5100 and ask for City Editor Patty Vandergrift or assistant Rob Byers. It is better to call the newsroom in late morning or early afternoon when editors and writers are not on deadline. Write down the name of the editor or reporter to whom you are speaking. If you need to talk with an editor or reporter in person, it is best to set up an appointment. Newspaper people work irregular hours and are frequently out of the newsroom.
For club news, it is a good idea to follow up your phone conversation by sending a short note or news release to the person you spoke with. Your note may remind the editor of your feature idea and a reporter may be assigned to do a feature story. If not, at least the information in your release will probably be published.
News Release Guidelines
All news releases should have a name and telephone number of the person submitting the information. A release date -- when you would like the information to be published -- is also helpful. Many news releases simply say: For immediate release. News releases should answer "The Five W's:" Who? What? When? Where? and Why?
Who -- Who's sponsoring the program? Who will speak? Please use the full name of the organization. Not everyone knows what abbreviations or acronyms (such as DAR, NAACP, WV-COGS) stand for.
What -- What's the purpose of the news item? To publicize a project? To recruit members or volunteers? To announce a visiting speaker?
When -- Be exact. Not just Tuesday afternoon, but 2 p.m. Jan. 25. Always use dates.
Where -- Again, be exact. Include room and street numbers if applicable.
Why -- This generally isn't needed in routine club announcements.
However, if a special meeting is being called, then your release should say why it is being held.
Accuracy: When you submit an announcement or a news release, you are acting as a reporter. We assume you have provided accurate information. Please double check times, dates and phone numbers. Above all, make sure the names in your release are spelled correctly. If the name has an unusual spelling, use the symbol (OK) after the name so we know that the spelling is correct.
Also, please let us know if a meeting has been canceled or its location changed so we can make a correction before your news item appears in print. Please type or print your news releases. Illegible handwriting is a major cause of mistakes.
Deadlines: The newspaper business differs from many others in that it must meet specific deadlines. If you don't meet a deadline, your item may not be published. Deadlines vary for different departments. The Gazette frequently prints notices of deadlines for various columns, such as This Week and Church News. When in doubt, call the city desk at 348-5100.
The Gazette relies on its staff of photographers when possible to take photographs for news stories. However, submitted photos can sometimes be used. Photos promoting a coming event must be meaningful and visually attractive. Requests for staff photos should be made well in advance of the event. The Gazette does not assign photographers to cover presentations of checks or awards, groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings and grand openings unless there is something unusual about them. We will, however, photograph the end result of some of these events. Talk about which ones with photo editor Kenny Kemp at 348-1250.
If you submit a photograph with your news release, please put the name and address of where it should be returned on the back of the photo. In the publishing process, the story and photograph are separated. Without a name on the back of the photograph we have no idea to whom it belongs. And please don't submit a photograph that has a lot of sentimental value to you. There's always a chance that the one photograph we lose will be the one that's irreplaceable to you.
Editorial cartoon -- An editorial cartoon expresses the opinion of the artist about political, social or economic issues.
Editorials -- Editorials are written by employees of the newspaper and reflect an opinion on issues on behalf of the newspaper.
Credit lines -- A credit line gives the name of the photographer and whether he works for the newspaper, a news service or is a freelancer.
Bylines -- A byline tells the reader who wrote the article and whether he is on the newspaper staff, is employed by a news service or is a freelancer.
News stories or news articles -- News stories or news articles are a series of facts about an event, issue or individual.
Advertisements -- An advertisement is a block of newspaper space that people buy, usually to promote a business, product or service. Because people pay for the space, they can generally say what they want within that space.
Letters to editor -- Letters to the editor are written by individuals who aren't employed by the newspaper and reflect the opinion of the letter writer.
Columns -- Columns are opinion pieces. Sometimes they are written by employees of other newspapers and are syndicated, or sold, to newspapers throughout the country. Columns can also be written by newspaper employees and private citizens who are asked to write them.
AP -- AP stands for The Associated Press, a national news service that distributes stories throughout the state, country and world. There are other news services, such as New York Times News Service and Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service.
Unlike most cities, Charleston has two separately owned newspapers. The Charleston Gazette, owned by the Daily Gazette Co., is a morning newspaper. The Daily Mail, owned by Thomson Newspapers Corp., is an afternoon paper.
Although the newsrooms operate independently, the two newspapers have a joint agreement to publish the Sunday paper. The Sunday Gazette-Mail is put out by the Gazette staff. The newspapers share advertising and circulation departments, have a common switchboard and library, and share some information, mainly obituaries. Otherwise, they are very competitive in news gathering and reporting.
Feature stories that appear in one newspaper will usually not be reported in the other. If you want an announcement to appear in both newspapers, you must send the information to both.
Guidelines and Deadlines
Some of the guidelines and deadlines for regular columns in the Gazette are given below.
Bulletin Board -- The Bulletin Board lists community events and is published daily, Monday through Saturday. Meetings, bake sales and other events open to the public are announced in this column. Information must be submitted in writing (or e-mail to gaze...@wvgazette.com. The deadline for Bulletin Board is noon on the day before an item is to appear.
Church News -- News items about church activities are published on Saturdays. Announcements must be in writing and received before noon Friday.
Business Faces -- News items about job promotions and changes are published on Tuesdays in the business section. Items must be received in writing by 5 p.m. Friday. Because of space limitations, announcements of retirements, years-of-service and meetings attended by employees are not published. Also because of space, only photographs of people in management or leadership positions are published. If you want the photograph returned, please put a return address on the back of the photo.
Beat Calendar -- This column lists arts and entertainment events. It is published weekly on Thursdays in the Gazette's Beat section. Items must be received in writing by 5 p.m. Tuesday to appear in This Week. Feel free to submit photographs of bands, artists, etc. with your release. Put a return address on the back of the photo if you want it back. Art groups that would like a feature story on their shows or plays or exhibits should talk with the arts and entertainment editor several weeks in advance.
Engagements, Weddings and Anniversaries -- These items are handled through the classified advertising department of Charleston Newspapers and are paid for by those placing the notices. Because of early deadlines, these items must be submitted at least 12 days before the Sunday you wish them to run. The deadline is 5 p.m. on the Tuesday a week and a half before publication. Call Sheila Roberts at 348-4856 or 348-4848 for information.
Obituaries -- Obituaries are usually reported to the Gazette by the funeral home handling the arrangements. Obituaries reported by a friend or family member -- either by phone or in writing -- must have a telephone number of a hospital, funeral home or other entity that can confirm the death. The Gazette considers obituaries to be news and doesn't charge to publish them. However, we edit the information provided us. If you have any questions about the information used in an obituary, call our obituary desk between 1 and 7 p.m. at 348-5182.
Readers Forum -- That's what we call our letters-to-the-editor department. The Gazette welcomes letters and publishes them as soon after we receive them as possible. The letters are subject to being edited, and we urge writers to limit their letters to about 200 words (about 20 typed lines). Writers must sign their name and give their complete address. We want, but don't publish, a daytime phone number. Contributors who write frequently are limited to one letter a month. And we don't use "open" letters (those addressed to another person) or letters that have appeared in another paper. Letters can be sent via e-mail to lett...@wvgazette.com. If you have any questions about our letters policy, call or write Dan Radmacher at 348-5150.
People Helping People -- This is a column that recognizes and encourages volunteer acts of individuals and groups that help others. The column appears on Mondays.
Class Notes -- Class Notes are published on Saturdays, and occasionally on Mondays, and list student achievements and other information concerning education. Some of those items include recipients of college scholarships of $1,000 or more, awards given to elementary and secondary students, doctoral degrees, appointments to military academies, and significant academic achievements of students.
Miscellaneous -- The Gazette also prints stories about Eagle Scouts, new club officers and winners of beauty contests.
Stories not used -- The Gazette generally does not publish some stories because they occur too frequently. Those include deans' lists, school honor rolls, selection for Who's Who, military news, contestants in beauty contests, fourth- or fifth-generation stories and photos, proclamations declaring state or national days or weeks, such as national education or child abuse weeks.
A Final Thought
The Gazette is part of the community and wants to report news that would be of interest to our readers. Don't feel intimidated about contacting us. We won't be able to do stories on every idea or news tip that we receive. And although we can only report on a small percentage of events, we won't know about any of them unless you tell us.
Here are the hours and telephone numbers of some Gazette departments:
- City Desk -- 348-5100 or 348-5102, 10 a.m. to midnight.
- Sports -- 348-4827 or 348-5122, 3 p.m. to midnight.
- Living Department -- 348-5180 or 348-5115, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.
- Arts and Entertainment -- 348-5115 or 348-1230, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.
- Photographs -- 348-1250, 10 a.m. to midnight.
- Business news -- 348-5163, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays.
- Obituaries -- 348-5182, 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
For news -- 348-1233 For sports and obituaries, 348-1740
1001 Virginia St. E. Charleston, WV 25301.