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Editorial quality checklist

Editorial quality/content checklist

The following items are benchmarks of good newspapers:

Overall planning

  • Each issue should give evidence of a planning system; system should work at least a week ahead at all times.

Organization/format

  • Format and organization should be uniform, consistent issue to issue. Allows readers to feel comfortable and familiar with product (editorials and other standing features in same location daily).

High item count

  • Good newspapers don’t run long chunks of gray type. They offer readers a wide array of tightly written stories, briefs and pictures.

Interaction with readers

Should be many opportunities for readers to help make the paper: community and sports news, personal items, letters to the editor.

Page 1

  • High item count
  • Clean attractive layout
  • Good use of color (where available)
  • Promotes inside of the paper
  • “Gee whiz” factor

Editorial page — each issue

  • Editorials are local, identify key issues and provide leadership
  • Editorials, even critical ones, make positive recommendations for change
  • Letters to the editor — well edited, and very visible
  • Guest columns
  • Forum for community discussion of key issues

Calendar (bulletin board) news — each issue

  • Should be a part of every issue
  • Every issue should explain how to get items in the paper
  • Where possible, should be anchored so it’s easy to find
  • Photos a key

Church news — weekly

  • Should be a staple of all community papers
  • Prominent display
  • Runs in anchored location, same day

Lifestyle news — weekly

  • Trends
  • Arts, music, entertainment
  • Food
  • Health, fitness

Sports — each issue

  • Cover team sports well
  • Includes thoughtful statistical summary
  • Stories for both men and women
  • Non-team or “life” sports — swimming, golf, running, etc.

Accessibility

  • Phone numbers, addresses, invitations to write, instructions

Bottom line

After reading the paper, do you have a sense of the community’s heart, spirit, its big issues, controversies; do you know what’s important in that community? In other words, is the newspaper a real mirror and leader in the community it serves?

— Dolph Tillotson
The Galveston County (Texas) Daily News