Guides for enhancing and extending your resources for reporting, editorial, photojournalism and other content generating areas.

Independent writers sue California to protect rights of freelancers

January 1, 2020

LOS ANGELES — The rights of independent journalists are under attack. In response, the American Society of Journalists and Authors Inc. filed suit against the state of California in federal court to stop a new law from violating the Constitution and devastating the careers of freelance journalists such as writers and photographers.

“We have no choice but to go to court to protect the rights of independent writers and freelance journalists as a whole,” said Milton C. Toby, JD, president of ASJA. “The stakes are too high, and we cannot stand by as our members and our colleagues face ill-conceived and potentially career-ending legislation.”

Improve ‘work family’ relationships with communication

December 1, 2019

At a publication seminar I conducted, attendees talked about internal company friction and how staff members didn’t seem to have respect for each other. Enmeshed in this problem is a list of demands on staff: deadlines, dealing with other departments, dealing with other co-workers and pleasing management.

Although most of them thought of themselves as likeable with a good personality, warm smile, etc., they were still having problems in their relationships with others. What is the answer to this situation? What has to be done to create a proper atmosphere of trust, understanding, respect and just plain courtesy?

The answer is to realign your vocabulary. It’s not just a smile or a simple “how are you?” that gets an office aligned. Rather, it’s about understanding how simple expressions can help human relations.

Hers are seven points that will change things in inter-office relations:

Copyright Office publishes new filing deadline and formatting rules

December 1, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Copyright Office has published its final rules requiring newspapers filing for copyright under group registration rules to file online. Paper applications will be accepted through Dec. 31, 2019.

The use of microfilm by newspapers when filing for copyright also is coming to an end. Only electronic copies will be accepted after January 1. 

2020 NNA Better Newspaper Contest open for entries

December 1, 2019

PENSACOLA, Florida — The National Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Editorial Contest and Better Newspaper Advertising Contest are now open for entries. Newspapers may upload their submissions now to use the contest site as storage. Entries may be deleted until deadline.

Publishers evaluate payroll with FLSA salary threshold increase on the horizon

December 1, 2019

Q: Please explain again how a nonexempt journalist can be paid a salary.

A: Happy to. Now that the new Fair Labor Standards Act salary threshold is set to go into effect next year, a lot of companies are re-evaluating their payroll.
It is an enduring irritant to both the newspaper industry and serious journalists that the Labor Department devalues many community newspaper journalists and will not classify them as professionals who can be paid on salary without limitation. Rather, we have an environment now where bosses have to pull journalists off stories when their hearts and souls are intent upon covering the news, just so the budget isn’t busted. NNA hopes the day will come when the Labor Department gives journalists their due so they can be considered exempt across the board. 

However, for now, most reporters and many editors are considered non-exempt under FLSA. So the question of how to predict compensation in a budget and still let the newsroom cover the news is vexing.

There are several possible approaches:

Publisher Editor Les Zaitz (left) confers with reporter Pat Caldwell.

Les Zaitz rescues a struggling weekly and elevates local news to award-winning journalism

December 1, 2019

On a chilly day a week before Thanksgiving, Les Zaitz couldn’t stay on the phone long. He was preparing to welcome a pair of donkeys to his ranch and had work to do. He is most happy when he’s building fences, feeding cows and horses and helping animals in need. 

Zaitz, who spent his career uncovering corruption, ferreting out wrongdoing and racking up awards as an investigative reporter, was looking forward to living his lifelong dream of retiring to a ranch and riding off into the sunset.

That is, until 2015, when the Malheur Enterprise, a 110-year old, tiny weekly newspaper in Vale, Oregon, called his name. Zaitz traveled the 100 miles from his ranch to the paper and observed a typical weekly that needed some tough love and a major overhaul. This rancher, who loves rescuing animals, saw a newspaper that needed rescuing, too.

Banding together to reach the peak of success

November 1, 2019

Milwaukee, Wisconsin — Community newspaper publishers from all over the nation shared ideas for success at the NNA Leadership Summit that kicked off the association’s annual convention at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee Oct. 3.

The summit was held at a time when newspapers face much turmoil and “the greatest challenges ever,” said facilitator Marty Kaiser, who led the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to three Pulitzer Prizes as editor and is a visiting fellow at the University of Maryland journalism school.

The theme of the summit was “How to make your newspaper an invaluable community asset,” and in doing so, sustain it financially.

Publishers should be aware of the shifting legal interpretations of ADA

November 1, 2019

Q: I am being told our website might not be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act because visually impaired people cannot read it. Can we be sued? What do we have to do to get into compliance?

A: Newspapers in several states have been receiving letters from disability activist groups and their attorneys threatening lawsuits 

Labor Department hasn't provided clarity regarding exemption for newspapers with circulation under 4,000 in Fair Labor Standards Act

November 1, 2019

Q: I understand newspapers under 4,000 circulations do not have to apply the Overtime Rule. But what if we have three newspapers whose total circulation is over 4,000? 

A: Your understanding is correct. 

A sign outside the Buffalo (Wyoming) Bulletin newsroom informs customers of delivery problems with the latest edition of the newspaper. People in Buffalo care about the local news; 89% of residents from Johnson County, where Buffalo sits, say they read the Bulletin. The county spreads across an area the size of Connecticut, but it is home to just 8,442 people. The Buffalo Bulletin sells 4,250 papers each week. Mara Abbott | GroundTruth

Presence and attentiveness are paramount

October 1, 2019

Normally, the newest weekly edition of the Buffalo Bulletin ( hits our rack just before 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, driven 40 miles down Interstate 90 from the printer by a Bulletin employee.

Our readers know the schedule, and Wednesday afternoons in the newsroom are regularly punctuated by the jangle of a large, brass cowbell hanging off the push-bar of our glass front door. Folks offer a greeting, peel a paper off the stack and drop a dollar in the wooden bowl on the front desk countertop. Subscription copies arrive with Thursday’s mail, but many are unwilling to wait.

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