Editorial Advisory Committee provides advice to the nonprofessionals among us

I’ve been writing news stories now for five years, but I still consider myself a nonprofessional. I didn’t train to be a journalist, and never thought I’d end up running a newspaper. Because I lacked professional training, I knew I’d better find some folks who knew what they were doing—and quick.

Members of the Heights Observer Editorial Advisory Committee are those folks. They are my go-to group. Whenever I need advice on something in the newspaper biz, usually one of them can help.

The current committee chair is Jewel Moulthrop, a retired editor who moved to Cleveland Heights in 2007 to be closer to her grandchildren. Somehow, she found us and asked if we needed help copy editing. With her expert eye and command of the English language, she soon was sitting with me every month to review the final proof of the paper—and finding lots of errors. (Longtime is one word, no hyphen. Book titles take italics, titles of plays take quotes. Who knew?) It didn’t take me long to ask Jewel to join my team of advisors.

Some people may think that grammar and punctuation are little things, but they often make the difference between a newspaper that is a chore to read and one that is a real joy. We hope you enjoy reading the Observer. As a citizen-journalism publication that welcomes news stories and opinion pieces from every Heights resident, we try to maintain the voice of each writer when we edit a story. But we also try to help each look good by ensuring that the stories are grammatically correct, concise and easy to read.

We generally follow the Associated Press style, but Jewel has created the Heights Observer style guide to help our writers and editors know the particular quirks of our community. For example, city council members in University Heights are councilwoman or councilman. Cleveland Heights Council, however, prefers the title of council member. Some may call it the Noble Library, but its real name is the Noble Neighborhood Library, and we make sure that every Heights Observer article refers to it correctly.

All of the committee members are listed in our masthead. Bob Rosenbaum, former committee chair, has had a long career in journalism and publishing. He now runs his own marketing and communications firm, the MarketFarm, and heads our advertising and business development efforts. Greg Donley, a graphic designer and writer, was part of the FutureHeights team that launched the Heights Observer. He laid out the first two print issues and worked with our current design staff to develop the Observer’s distinctive look. David Budin, former editor of Northern Ohio Live and Cleveland Magazine, is my go-to guy for anything arts related. He’s an excellent editor who knows how to fit a story into the available space. Ellie Mallet was a columnist for the Plain Dealer and has written several books. She’s an excellent storyteller and wrote an Observer column for a while. Carrie Buchanan is a journalism professor at John Carroll University (JCU). John Ettorre writes Working With Words, a blog about writing.

Several committee members also serve on the FutureHeights Board of Directors. They provide oversight of the Observer as a FutureHeights project. Clare Taft is a lawyer who wrote for JCU’s student newspaper, The Carroll News. Vince Reddy, a city planner by trade, has written several stories analyzing our community from this perspective. Kevin Smith has expertise in real estate and urban planning. Jeff Coryell worked as the new media director for a campaign for the United States Senate and founded a successful statewide political website, Ohio Daily.

This expert team of professionals works behind the scenes to make this newspaper the most professional-looking nonprofessional newspaper around. Editor-in-chief Kim Sergio Inglis and I are grateful for their assistance. We hope you continue to enjoy the end result.

Deanna Bremer Fisher

Deanna Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and publisher of the Heights Observer.

Read More on Opening the Observer
Volume 5, Issue 8, Posted 6:12 PM, 08.06.2012