There’s an unfortunate reality when it comes to small-town newspapers, and it’s one we all wish we could avoid but the simple fact of the matter is we can’t.
The staff size of a newspaper is reliant on a few different factors that all stem from basically one thing: population. Like any business, a newspaper can only afford to pay so many people based on the revenue it brings in. The revenue comes from our circulation base and advertisements, and with a decreasing population and several grocery and department stores closing their doors the revenue has decreased over the years.
In turn we can only afford to employ two people, myself and Managing Editor Susan Amundson, dedicated to the editorial content that appears in our newspaper. That means producing 104 issues a year plus special sections. Editor and Publisher Charlie Smith helps out when he can, but with overseeing the entire staff and managing not only the content but the production, advertising and payroll also his time is limited.
So Susan and I are left to try to cover as many games, events and city, county and school board meetings as possible. We work hard and still can’t get to it all. So how do we fill the rest of the paper considering the stuff that we can get to doesn’t always take up enough space?
We rely on you, the reader, to submit pictures, story briefs, letters to the editor and more. But since I’ve been here, the content submitted to us has decreased more and more with each passing year.
But we want to put your wedding announcement in the newspaper, along with announcing the birth of your child or grandchild. If you’re having a family reunion, we would love to put the group picture of the whole lot of you in the paper. Did your son or daughter kill their first deer, or did you take down a prize buck? We want that, too, and everything in between.
When it comes to sports coverage, the majority of the public is only interested in varsity sports. But that doesn’t mean we won’t run a picture of your son or daughter playing junior varsity, freshman, middle school, elementary or peewee ball in the sports section. If you send it, we’ll get it in there. A lot of those games take place when I’m still at the office and can’t make it, while varsity games are typically at night when I can get there.
But there are a few rules we need you to follow for submissions. The biggest issue we typically have is the quality of the image sent to us. You don’t need to take a picture with a digital camera for us to be able to use a picture — smartphone cameras work just fine — but it’s how you send it that matters.
When sending an image from your phone via email, when you go to send it there’s an option that pops up that asks you what size to send it as. We need you to send images at their “actual size” or “large.” If you compress the image to its smallest size, it will pixelate and become unusable. Also, if you try to import an image or multiple images in a word document or PDF, the image size is automatically compressed. Always send images as individual attachments. If you’re sending multiple images, you may need to send them as multiple emails because there is a limit in the amount of gigabytes allowed in a single email, and it will automatically compress the file size.
Another key thing is we need to have the names of everyone in every picture you submit. It isn’t because we like to be difficult, but really what is the point of putting a picture in the newspaper if the reader can’t look at the cutline and find out who they are looking at? It’s important.
So the next time you’re at an event or a ball game and think, “I wish we could get this in the newspaper,” snap a picture and send it to us. We want to put it in for you.
Joshua Campbell is sports editor of The Columbian-Progress. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (601) 736-2611.