One of my favorite phrases from readers – critics and fans alike – is “editorial team.”
When we make errors, I inevitably am asked something along the lines of: “why didn’t your editorial team catch that?” When people pitch stories, they often ask if a “member of our editorial team” might be dispatched to cover an event or meeting.
To me the phrase is evocative of a football-squad-sized army of reporters and fact checkers, diligently pursuing leads throughout the greater Chestnut Hill area and working over copy to eradicate it of typos and misstatements of fact.
I suppose the fact that the phrase is used at all, even critically, is a form of compliment. That people see a whole team behind the paper they receive every week or the website they check daily has got to be encouraging.
The fact is, we couldn’t field a football team. In fact, we’d have a hard time finding the manpower in the editorial department to compete in a friendly hoops tournament.
We’re definitely a team, but much smaller one than you might imagine. Today, there are only three full-timers in editorial, one in classifieds/circulation, one in production and two in advertising.
I point this out not to bellyache about our position. In fact, I don’t mind the size of our squad one bit. Would I like an extra writer; sure, who wouldn’t. But it’s not an excuse to ward off responsibility for what we do. We can always do better.
The real deal is that the Local absolutely depends on the assistance of the greater community. Most of our contributions are from freelance writers and other members of the community who write stories, submit photos and op-ed pieces.
There are many places we can’t be and subjects about which we know little. Every week, we get a much-needed assist not only from our tried and true veteran contributors but also from regular readers who will send in an informational release or a photo that we can pass along.
If we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re taking care of the important news our readers expect, but we’re also compiling and curating the many submissions we get in order to balance out a paper every week that really strives to be a community read. It’s an effort that is not only community owned but community created.
With that in mind, we’re always looking for reader submissions. If you’re handy with a camera and can take pictures in focus with the entire subject in frame, then you’re good enough to submit. If you’ve noticed a tree has fallen on a car roof, you can call, but there’s a good chance we can’t get there to get a shot. If you’ve got a smartphone, shoot a few shots and send them to us. If they’re decent, we’ll run them and give you the credit.
If an event is going on and we can’t get there, send us the information. Tell us who, what, why, when and where and we’ll do our best to make sure that, if it’s information the community should or would like to know, we find a way to run it.
I certainly can’t promise that we’ll always use everything sent our way. We don’t have the space or the resources to process it all. But we’re certainly always looking to be as inclusive and as close to a real community effort as possible.
So polish that camera lens and get your email attachment skills up to date. We’re looking for help, and we could use you.
P.S. Pitches, photos and other thoughts can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org