I get lots of press releases every day, from the laughably absurd (“Learn biblical based budgeting for free, plus win an iPad3!”) to the boringly predictable (“SPACC Applauds Saint Paul City Council on Pizza Luce Vote”). Mixed in with these are announcements of news I’d really like to cover, if only we had the resources to do it.
We don’t publish press releases. We assign stories to writers, and then they make phone calls or go to meetings or interview people and come back with a story. Here’s how that would work, if we had more writers:
- “Unanimous Council vote sets path for Pizza Luce in Saint Paul” — That’s the Mayor Coleman press release, and a writer could start from there, make a phone call to Pizza Luce for a comment about why they need more parking and exactly where the parking lot will be and how many cars it will hold and when construction will begin and be finished, and maybe contact a customer or neighbor for a comment about what they think about parking at Pizza Luce.
- “Announcing 2012 Grant Awards” — The Morrill Hall Rachel Tilsen Social Justice Fund press release announces grants to four organizations, each of which sounds like a story in itself. A writer would contact one or more of the organizations and write a story about the founder or director or clients or work of the organization.
- “Our Vote Our Future Campaign Launched to Defeat Photo ID Amendment” — Today’s news conference launched a campaign that includes 88 Minnesota organizations. The press conference sounds like it had some lighter moments: the press release noted Alfred Babington-Johnson’s animal analogies about the legislature deciding “’to move in wolf-like fashion wearing lamb’s fleece to restrict voting.’ He compared the photo ID amendment to putting ‘lipstick on a pig. It’s not going to make me want to pucker up.’” A writer could have gone to the press conference and reported the story.
- “Autism/Asperger’s expert available – for Autism Awareness Month” — It’s Autism Awareness Month? A writer might talk to the national “expert” from North Carolina, but a more likely approach would be to talk to Minnesotans who live with autism spectrum, who are parents or family members, or who work on education and treatment issues. Like someone from the The Autism Society of Minnesota. Or maybe a writer could attend and report on their April 27-28 conference. With autism diagnoses rising to a one in 88 frequency, this is a key area of concern.
If we had more writers, we could cover all of these stories.
If you’re interested in writing, we’d like to work with you. Register as a Daily Planet user, take a look at the Story Page, and email me (email@example.com) to ask for an assignment — or to suggest a story you’d like to cover.
I know that reporting isn’t for everyone. If you have strong opinions and you want to express them in your writing, you can send stories for publication in the Free Speech Zone.
If you are interested in reporting, we’ll help you get started and mentor you along the way. Help and mentoring can come in meetings or writing workshops or by emailing your article back and forth with comments and questions and changes. If you’d like to try reporting, you are welcome here. If it works out, that’s great for you, for us, and for our community.