The editor can be contacted at (337) 531-1392 or e-mail email@example.com.
Wednesday at 10 a.m. for each week’s paper. Keep in mind that by this time space in the Guardian is filling rapidly. Your story may have to be held depending on timeliness and room available. That’s an editorial decision each week. Please note that Trading post ad deadline is Tuesday at noon.
The Guardian will not accept stories more than three weeks old. Material for publication is welcome and encouraged from the newspaper readership. However, the editor reserves the right to edit all contributions for space, style, accuracy, taste and other factors. Editorial opinions will be confined to editorial columns or pages and will be clearly defined as such.
Material from quasi-military organizations (such as the Association for the United States Army and the Retired Officers Association) may be considered for publication, but such material will not promote the organization, such as solicit membership or endorse its political positions.
The Guardian staff will determine article use, placement, editing, staffing, etc.
What we do cover:
• Battalion level and above changes of command
• Events of interest to the readers of the Guardian newspaper
• Personality features
What we do not cover:
• Changes of command below battalion level
• Events from the purely historical aspect
• Check presentations, promotions, award ceremonies, office parties, holiday parties, organization days and other widespread events unless the story is determined by the Guardian staff as newsworthy.
• Private organizations (local businesses, AUSA, etc.) unless the event has a direct, significant impact on a large portion of the community.
We don’t accept stories:
• Written in the first person, unless they’re editorials.
• That are poetry or fiction.
• That are information papers or after-action reports.
• On retirement ceremonies
• With no Army or Fort Polk angle.
• That criticize other government agencies or advocate or dispute specific political or legislative matters.
• When the information is either outright or questionably offensive.
• When information isn’t properly attributed to its source.
We don’t accept photos that:
• Have been manipulated to change the context of the photograph. While minor corrections can be made to correct the quality of the photograph (darkness, lightness, color), elements cannot be digitally moved, removed, etc., to change the context of the photo.
• Show individuals not following proper safety precautions -- such as failing to wear a hardhat in a construction area.
• Show individuals doing things that are illegal or in conflict with Department of Defense, Army or local policy such as driving a motorcycle on post without a helmet, or driving while talking on a cell phone without a hands-free device.
• Show individuals in embarrassing situations, such as in mid-chew or bent over from behind. While many individuals aren’t comfortable in front of the camera, almost all are fine as long as they feel secure that you’re not going to embarrass them. You may want to show them the photos you took of them on the digital camera display, just to ease their concerns.
• The subject of the photo specifically asks not to run.
• Glamorize drug use, smoking, alcohol use or other vices.
• Are grip-and-grin photos, check presentations, most posed photos or group shots, based on AR 360-1 (The Army Public Affairs Program). Exceptions to this policy are extremely rare and are made by the Guardian editor, the command information officer, the garrison public affairs officer or the garrison commander.
• Have been manipulated beyond basic lightening, darkening, etc. While cropping unwanted or unnecessary parts of the photo is okay, people and items will not be removed or the photo otherwise dramatically altered using PhotoShop or other computer software. For more information or clarification, see AR 25-1 (Army Information Management), paragraph 7-8c(3).
We don’t run stories or photos when:
• The story or photo is of such poor quality that it is incomprehensive, detracts from its purpose of being in the newspaper (to be read or viewed) or is otherwise noncompliant with basic journalism standards.
• Information is incomplete. If information in a story, caption, etc. is incomplete, if adult names don’t include rank (if applicable), job title and organization or children’s names, don’t include their ages and parents’ names and affiliation (if any) to Fort Polk, we don’t run the item. If possible and if the item isn’t so time-sensitive that delaying its publication is a problem, get complete information so that the item can run in the following newspaper issue. If it’s not possible to get complete information, don’t use the item.
• The quality of the product is poor. It is better to run no story or photo than to run a bad one!
Please keep the following details in mind:
• People do things, buildings don’t. For example, in the statement “The average hospital sees 100 patients a day,” the hospital doesn’t actually see anyone -- the hospital staff does. Rather than say, “The fitness center can create a fitness program just for you,” again, it’s the staff there, and specifically the personal trainers. Think about who is doing the action and be
• People don’t buy seats to an event if so, they’d be able to take the seats home after the event. They buy tickets to the event, possibly tickets for specific seating. On the same topic, it’s not that “Tickets for Friday’s event are $12” instead, “Tickets for Friday’s event cost $12.”
• If you’re writing about a span of time, you’re talking about from one time until another, not to another. An event is held from 1 until 2 p.m., not from 1 to 2 p.m. Also regarding time, if you’re addressing both a.m. and p.m. time, indicate so after each time (such as from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.) if both times are a.m. or p.m., only indicate so after the second time (such as from 1 until 2 p.m.).
• If you’re listing a range of dates in a month, only list each month once (unless circumstances dictate otherwise). For example, instead of writing “Meetings will be held Sept. 12, Sept. 14, Oct. 3 and Oct. 8,” write “Meetings will be held Sept. 12 and 14 and Oct. 3 and 8.” In writing about a range of dates, also be mindful of “until” and “through.” If a meeting will be held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, it will be held “Wednesday through Friday,” not “Wednesday until Friday.”
• Don’t use “on” before dates and days, such as “The meeting will be held on July 6.” It is unnecessary. In the same regard, be careful of overusing the word “that.” In the phrase “I heard that the conference has been cancelled,” it is unnecessary.
Stories are made of three major components:
• The introduction, or lead, which lets the reader know what the story will be about. An interesting lead will catch readers’ attention and compel them to read further.
• The bridge, which bridges the gap between the lead and the body. The bridge fills in ‘who, what, where, when, why, or how’ information missing from the lead.
• The body, which is where you will go into greater detail about the subject you are writing about. Think of the whole package. When doing a story on a person, get quotes from that person -- make the story personal. Also, get quotes from others involved. For example, if it’s a work story, get quotes from the person’s boss, coworkers and customers. Get photos of the person doing something the story is about. If she volunteers with an animal shelter, get photos of her there, working with the animals, rather than at work. Be creative.
• Newspaper stories, whether news or feature, must explain within the first two paragraphs the “5 Ws and the H” of the story: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Other basic rules of newspaper writing are to:
• Keep leads short -- usually about 30 words.
• Keep things simple. Use simple words and refrain from using jargon and abbreviations. Keep most sentences under 25 words. Paragraphs shouldn’t be more than two or three sentences.
• Tell the story using action verbs. Write in the “active” voice rather than the “passive.” Say who does the action. For example, “Melissa was given a reprimand for her excess tardiness” is written in passive voice. To make the sentence active, state who is doing the action, such as “Melissa’s supervisor, John, gave her a reprimand for excess tardiness.”
Remember the ABCs of journalism:
• A — Accuracy - Get it down right.
• B — Brevity - Keep sentences and paragraphs short
• C — Clarity - Avoid using too many words. Don’t be repetitive. Keep related ideas together. Keep the wording tight and simple.
• Be consistent. If you establish an abbreviation or acronym, use it as the term comes up throughout the rest of the story. Ensure names are spelled correctly, all the way through the story. Check your facts -- don’t say an event will happen at one time in a story, and at a different time in the cutline.
• The Guardian uses Associated Press style in all articles; please be aware AP-style ranks are written different than the Army writes them
• The easiest way to ensure you are safe is to get your information from scratch, such as through personal interviews with subject matter experts. In that case, quote the person you interviewed as providing the information. Doing so not only protects your from accusations of plagiarism, but can enhance the story by providing a solid basis for the information. For example, saying the next cold and flu season will be the worst yet won’t mean as much coming from you as it would coming from a source at the Centers for Disease Control or another medical organization. Do not, however, write the entire story in quotes. Try to paraphrase long quotes, but still attribute it to the SME.
• If you must use reference material in a story, clearly give credit for where you found it. Ensure that any information, graphics and other elements you find online, in publications, etc., are available for use.
• Items that are copyright protected or offered for a fee require the owner’s written permission before the information can be used. Coordinate with the Guardian editor before contacting someone on a copyright issue on behalf of the Guardian. If you’re not sure if the information is available for public use or is copyright protected, don’t use it.
• Use quotes to emphasize something a person said, but be careful not to write the article with just one quote after another.
• When using verbs with quotes, reserve using “he shouted,” “he exclaimed,” etc., for personality pieces, and then use them sparingly and correctly. Do not attribute quotes with verbs denoting nonverbal physical processes, such as laughing, smiling, pouting, etc. No one laughs, smiles or pouts words. Said is the safest bet.
• Be sure that what you put in the quotation marks is what the person said. While the quote can be cleaned up to take out any “uhs” and “ums,” the text must be true to what was said.
• A picture may say 1,000 words, but if the photograph isn’t of good quality, the message it’s sending could be a very bad one. We’ve all taken photos of our family and friends, vacations and other special events. The photos of good quality attract our attention and leave us feeling pleased. The photos that are out of focus, are under or over lit, or that have distracting background or foreground content make us feel frustrated at having to work hard to decipher the story in the photo. The same is true when taking pictures for the Guardian. The printing process acts as a magnifier for photo problems, therefore, it is extremely important that the photos used in the newspaper be crisp and visually correct. Photos that are out of focus, too dark, too light or otherwise not good quality will not be used in the Guardian.
• The following basic photography rules will help ensure the photos you take are the best they can be, increasing the chance that they’ll be published in the Guardian:
• As you’re looking through the viewfinder of your camera, take the time to ensure your subject is in focus.
• Take a lot of pictures. The more photos you take, the better the chances that you will have quality photos and a variety of photos for the editor to choose from.
• Ensure there are not too many people in the shot.
• Strive for action.
• Ensure you have a variety of photos. Shoot verticals and horizontals, close-ups and more- distant shots, the subject at various angles. Because photos should face into the page or story they’re on, it’s important that you get photos of your subject facing both left and right, if possible. Also, be creative. If you’re taking pictures of a clown entertaining children, take photos not only of the clown, but of the children’s facial expressions and other reactions, with a close up of the clown’s eyes getting big as he or she blows up a balloon and maybe a photo of a child getting his or her face painted like a clown. Don’t just stand behind the group of children taking straight-on photos of the clown.
• Ensure the photos you take are at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). Have you ever tried to enlarge a photo, only to find out that the great-looking small photo enlarges to something very grainy or pixilated? That’s because the dpi setting on your camera wasn’t high enough to accommodate the larger size of the photo. Dpi is a measure of resolution, or the amount of detail and information that an image contains. Typically, higher dpi images produce smoother and cleaner output because there are more dots that make up the color or detail of an image. Conversely, the lower the dpi or resolution, the poorer the output quality. While the images on most web sites are produced at 72 dpi, print documents need a much higher dpi to ensure quality prints. Keeping your camera set at the highest quality of photograph will ensure a high dpi and increase the quality of the photos you take.
• Submit photos electronically if possible -- when photos are scanned, they lose quality. The Guardian staff does not provide film or developing services to the community or post organizations.