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Everyday Ethics by Jim Pumarlo

Jim Pumarlo writes, speaks and provides training on community newsroom success strategies. He is author of “Journalism Primer: A Guide to Community News Coverage,” “Votes and Quotes: A Guide to Outstanding Election Coverage” and “Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues in Small-Town Newspapers.” He can be reached at and welcomes comments and questions at

The ‘blue shirt’ won — is that the best we can do?

“Nameless” photos always have bothered me. When I sat behind the editor’s desk, photographers and reporters knew better than to submit photos without identification. The unfortunate ...

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Are you telling your own stories?

Journalists climb this wall every day, I replied. Community newspapers are far from perfect, I added, but said I find it disappointing and misleading when community press gets branded under the broad brush ...

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Special projects energize staff, community

But special projects also can mean generating more substantive reports in everyday news. These projects can be just as “big” in terms of providing expanded coverage. And they can be done without ...

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Sharpen your editing with these press releases

Such exchanges are commonplace at all levels of government as omnibus bills are cobbled together to include anything and everything. It makes great campaign fodder for incumbents and challengers alike ...

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Start benchmarking performance of politicians

That’s why election coverage should not shut down when the winners are announced. It’s a worthwhile exercise for staffs to review the election edition periodically and refresh themselves about ...

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A salute to those who wave the editorial banner

I have a passion for vibrant, local editorials. I believe energized, local editorials are at the foundation of energized communities. The Golden Quill recognizes the top 12 editorials written among nondailies. The ...

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Initiate conversations with your readers

Fresh off a contentious election season, this is an excellent time to review and identify ways to communicate with readers. Election coverage always prompts questions from readers on everything from candidate ...

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Make public affairs coverage relevant and timely

Editors and reporters constantly evaluate how they deliver the news, especially when it comes to public affairs. The most meaningful stories are those that interpret the practical impact of policy-making. ...

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Don’t close books just yet on 2020 elections

Most readers were likely fixated these past months on the presidential matchup. In the end, however, community newspapers should remember they are the primary source of information for local races. That’s ...

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Execute your strength: Put names, faces behind the stories

Developing relationships with subscribers and advertisers is imperative to success in today’s fractured media landscape. The stakes are even higher as many newspapers navigate the economic impact ...

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Pandemic no excuse for lazy reporting

Logistics are demanding enough to connect with your regular corps of newsmakers. Then consider everyday readers — the local names and faces who provide so many distinctive stories — who may ...

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Tell the stories behind the statistics

Beyond the pandemic, exploring stories behind statistics should be a regular exercise in newsrooms. Numerous examples can be found in everyday reporting.

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Are you capturing all community voices?

Are the opinions of those individuals in the back of the room — and, more broadly, residents across the community — given equal attention?

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Newspapers still have an inside track as the premier clearinghouse of information

So what type of scenarios prompted stepped-up investigation and reporting? A handful of circumstances immediately come to mind.

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Are you reading your own websites?

The value of immediate and continuing reports has escalated during the coronavirus pandemic. Your stories are critical to keeping readers abreast of information valuable to navigating this crisis.

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Coronavirus underscores the breadth of business reporting

Business news from all aspects deserve extra attention during these extraordinary times. This is also an opportunity to think about expanded business coverage during ordinary times. 

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