In 2019, join your fellow residents in writing for the Heights Observer
As I look back at the 10 January issues of the Heights Observer that we published between 2009 and 2018, I am struck by how many frequent contributors we’ve had—folks like David Budin, who wrote a story for our first issue and whose current column is on page 24 of this one, and Shari Nacson, who wrote her first story for us in 2014 and has been contributing almost monthly since March 2018 (she has two stories in this issue).
But out of the 1,450 Heights residents who have created accounts to submit articles in the Heights Observer’s Member Center, many of them are one-time or infrequent contributors—and that’s OK.
After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, January seems quiet and calm. It’s a good time to reflect and set new goals for the year ahead. If you’ve enjoyed reading the Observer in the past, consider contributing a story in 2019.
The Heights Observer has no paid writing staff, and only part-time production staff. Our writers volunteer to submit articles because they understand how important it is to have a forum in which our community can share news and talk about important issues. The Observer creates networks in our community and strengthens our capacity to remain vibrant.
I invite you to add your voice to the diversity of voices that are here.
It doesn’t matter if you are a professional or amateur writer. Just follow these 10 simple guidelines, and our volunteer editors will help make sure your story is ready to publish:
- Write about Cleveland Heights and University Heights. Other publications cover the region; this one exists to serve our local community. Consider interviewing a Heights resident, store owner or community leader, or show how an issue affects people living and working in the Heights.
- Submit a story, not a press release. We have no writing staff to follow up on press releases, so we rely on you to send us the story in a print-ready format.
- Don’t write about yourself. That’s a bit awkward. If you’ve got some exciting personal news to share, find a friend to write the story for you.
- Give us the facts. Tell us the who, what, where and when in the first paragraph or two. Lead with what is newsworthy about your story and what you want readers to know.
- Keep your opinion out of the 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. Disclose any relationship you have to the story in the short bio. that you attach to the end of your article.
- Be succinct. We have limited space in each print issue, and want to hear from as many voices in our community as possible. Our online Style Guide (at www.heightsobserver.org/read/how-to-contribute/) gives suggested word counts for various types of stories—news, features, opinion, announcements for upcoming events, and letters to the editor. Nothing should be longer than 600 words, and shorter is usually better.
- Submit original work only. This may seem obvious, but when you submit a story to the Heights Observer’s Member Center, we trust that the work is your own.
- 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, and following this guideline will encourage conversations.
- Provide a photo. Photographs can help tell your story, and it’s fun to see people we know in print. Keep in mind that photos must be high-resolution (a minimum of 350kb) to reproduce well in print. Include a caption, name the people in the photo, and let us know who took the picture. Be sure you have permission to use it.
- Respect our deadlines, so we can stay organized and sane. You can find our monthly deadlines at www.heightsobserver.org/read/how-to-contribute/. A story submitted by the deadline has a better chance of inclusion in the print issue.
Make 2019 the year you write a story for the Observer. If you would like to discuss an idea first, call me at 216-320-1423, or contact our editor, Kim Sergio Inglis, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you are ready, go to www.heightsobserver.org, select Member Center in the left-hand column, and create an account. Then select Submit New Story, paste in the text of your story, include a 1-3 sentence bio., and hit Submit.
I look forward to reading new voices in the Heights Observer in 2019.
Deanna Bremer Fisher
Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.