Questions and requests about story selection in Moonshine Ink come before our staff often. This month, we invite our readers behind the scenes to see how we handle these decisions and get a glimpse of the tough choices we face. To hear from both sides of the editorial/advertising aisle, we present a dialogue with Publisher Mayumi Elegado and News Editor Kara Fox.
Elegado: At our core we want to “Keep Tahoe Smart.” We aim to serve our newspaper with a dash of flavor, intelligent writing, and thoughtful design. It all starts with selection of the topics we choose to cover.
Fox: We receive requests each week to write about someone’s business, school, child, dog, etc., but we just can’t publish all the ideas that come across our desks. Our team of eight pores over story ideas each month in hopes that we are bringing only the best to our readers.
Elegado: It’s tough because journalists are naturally curious people. We want to explore, define, and share the world with our readers. There’s rarely a stone that we don’t want to turn over. But in the interest of staying within our small staff’s bandwidth and capturing readers’ attention, we do have to leave some stones unturned. We avoid at all costs what has been called MEGOs, or “My Eyes Glaze Over” stories. We may not always succeed but that’s the goal.
Fox: The monthly print publication has limited page real estate, which means we cannot print everything everyone wants us to. If we did, Moonshine would lose the “must-read” quality that readers tell us they value. It happens often that a staff member becomes a valiant advocate for a story idea that has captured his/her attention, but if it doesn’t pass muster by a majority of the team, it’s tabled. That can be difficult in a small community.
Elegado: It is! Because we care about our neighbors, fellow businesses, clients, and even their dogs.
Fox: But in the age of “infobesity,” we hope that people will recognize stories with backbone and quality.
Elegado: Exactly. There’s also the sensitive issue of advertising driving editorial. While Moonshine Ink is willing to challenge many newspaper traditions — a necessary exercise in this evolving industry — we still believe strongly in the old-school separation between advertising and editorial. We believe it creates a stronger product for the reader.
Fox: Journalists abide by a strict code of ethics, directing us to serve the public and avoid conflicts of interest. That precludes allowing influence from any parties, including our valued advertisers.
Elegado: We do, however, strongly encourage story ideas and feedback from our readers and advertisers. We just hope you’ll understand there are a lot of factors that go into selecting which stones we turn over.
Got an idea? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.