You are invited to become an observer
I’m sure you’ve had plenty of invitations this holiday season. But before you settle down to a more comfortable pace in the new year, let me extend one more invitation: Become an observer in 2014.
We welcome submissions from all community members—no previous writing experience is required. The Heights Observer has no writing staff; it exists to publish your stories.
The Observer brings people together on important issues. It creates networks in our community and strengthens our capacity to remain vibrant in the future. Consider adding your voice to the diversity of voices in the newspaper.
Here are a few simple guidelines to get you started:
1. Write about the hyper-local. The Heights Observer is by and for those who live and work in Cleveland Heights and University Heights. Consider interviewing a local resident, store owner or community leader, or show how a story affects people living and working in the Heights.
2. Submit a story, not a press release. We have no writing staff to follow up on a press release. Occasionally we have an intern or a volunteer willing to accept an assignment, but mostly we rely on you to decide what your neighbors should know and then to send us the story in a print-ready format.
3. Give us the news up front. Tell us the who, what, where and when in the first paragraph or two. Tell us what is newsworthy about your story and what you want readers to know.
4. Be succinct. Make every effort to stay within the word limit, and follow other guidelines set forth in our online Style Guide. We publish several types of stories—news, features, opinion, announcements for upcoming events, and letters to the editor—in our limited space each month. Please keep feature articles (stories that profile a person or explore a particular subject) and opinion pieces to 600 words. Limit news items to 400 words, and keep letters to the editor to 220 words. We know this is not always possible, but you’ll help our volunteer editors tremendously if you are stay within these limits.
5. Keep your opinion out of your story (unless it is an opinion piece or letter to the editor). Quoting the opinions of others adds color to a news story, but be sure to attribute those views to a specific person. You should disclose any relationship you have to the story in the short bio that you attach to the end of your article.
6. Submit original work only. This may go without saying, but when you submit a story to the Member Center, we trust that the work is your own.
7. Be fair, accurate and civil—even in opinion pieces. We hope that this publication will create dialogue around issues that are important to Heights residents. Following this guideline will encourage conversations and build community.
8. Provide a photo. Photographs can help tell your story. It’s great to see people we know engaged in activities around the community. Photos must be high-resolution, a minimum of 350KB to reproduce well in print. Suggest a caption, name the people in the photo, and let us know who took the picture. Be sure you have permission to use it.
9. Respect our deadlines, so we can stay organized and sane. We publish monthly deadlines at www.heightsobserver.org/read/become-an-observer/. A story submitted by the deadline has a better chance of inclusion in the print edition.
To submit a story, go to www.heightsobserver.org, select Member Center in the left-hand column, and create an account. Then select Submit New Story, copy and paste the text of your story, and hit Submit. If you would like to discuss a story idea before writing it, call me at 216-320-1423, or contact our editor, Kim Sergio Inglis, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take a look at our monthly deadlines and Style Guide by selecting Become an Observer on the homepage. Don’t worry that your story is not good enough. We can help polish your story.
I look forward to reading your story in an upcoming issue of the Heights Observer.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.