Okay, Sun editor, you asked for it and I’m ready to give it to you. (see “Against the Grain” by Josh Wood on page 4 of April 15, 2021 issue of the Saratoga Sun)
Right off, I want to compliment you on last week’s column, it’s the best you’ve written. Short, concise, to the point, informative and best of all you ask for reader input.
Here are some suggestions if I—Dick Perue, former editor, publisher, printer and janitor of “The Saratoga Sun”—was once again running the award-winning weekly newspaper.
Go to tab-size paper with four pages of color front and back and four pages of color in center. Other pages will be black & white. Remember color photos, especially with red tint, are usually darker when converted to grayscale. Brighten, but don’t increase contrast.
When making up pages use inverted style of displaying advertisement news and photos. Try to put both advertisement and news/photos on each page except for full page advertisement Eliminate the “long gray lines” in make-up.
Tighten up your writing. Use inverted pyramid writing style with who, what, where, when, why and how in first sentence and then keep the story to about four or five paragraphs. If it is a long story, say Town Council, write three or four separate news items.
Get a proof reader! Readers lose faith in reporting when they see a lot of errors.
Put the “Staff Reporters” to work. They, who ever they might be, are your best writers.
Put a cutline on every photo. List the names in the photo and let the reader know who is in it. If you have time to take the picture, you have time to get the names. The front page photo last week should have read, Saratoga Middle/High School Prom Royalty pose on.
Remember you are reporting for at least six towns and several other areas. Let your readers know who is in the picture, where it was taken, what for, etc. Two weeks ago my great-grandson was in a picture on the front page and I didn’t know until my granddaughter posted it on social media. I would have rather learned that fact from the cutline in the Sun than on Facebook.
Get a proof reader! Mistakes breed doubt and cause confusion.
Make upcoming events primary news. More folksy news. Do features. Loosen up. Find a little humor. Have fun running a hometown weekly newspaper. Take government news off front page, condense and put inside.
Your typeface is getting smaller or I’m getting older and can’t see as well. Remember, a majority of your readers are older citizens and have failing eye sight.
Here are a few of the stories I wish you would print:
•Lumber industry news. The Saratoga sawmill is only one of three remaining in the Rocky Mountains. It is busy and hires more than 100 folks. Adjoining business building log houses.
•Snow pack in Medicine Bow and Sierra Madre mountains.
•Wolf tagged in south Carbon County
•Report of State Legislature by local representatives.
•What is the new tower at the Union Telephone office in the middle of town?
•Saratoga Dump closure and what it cost and why it had to happen.
•Upcoming events and activities.
Stories to pursue:
•Why are folks flocking to area to vacation and live?
•Lack of rentals and houses for sale.
•Development of vacation rentals, AirB&Bs, housing developments, home businesses,
Other things to cover:
•Lambing and calving; fish hatchery; Soil Conservation Service; Bureau of Land Management; Forest Service; clubs and organizations; institutions such as library, Senior Centers, churches, Food Bank, Helping Hand, Ministerial Assn., County Health Nurse, etc.
And don’t forget:
Upper North Platte River, Hobo Pool, Saratoga Lake, duck and geese, wildlife in town—Mountain Lion on golf course and bull Moose at hot pool, arts and crafts, clubs and organizations, feature stories, social news and most of all “people and what they do and how they live”! Folks love to see their name in the local paper, except those in the police report.
I would eliminate the (See…..) reference you use in some stories. It is irritating to the reader and looks as thought you are bragging about having reported something you should have reported in the first place. Also, it slows and disrupts the reader. Yeah, I know I used it at the start of this article.
And most of all I urge readers to send in suggestions to improve our award-winning weekly newspaper.
And, of course, after 70 years of being associated with the Sun I will be writing again, maybe next week. Yes, I started as a printer’s devil back in 1951 and never made enough money to get out of town, except for the Air Force and University of Wyoming.