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University of Texas at Austin
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Ten Key Steps for Improving Editorial Content

  1. Cover Your Community

    "Newspapers need to reflect the specific needs and interests of their communities . . . Even if every other block in the pyramid is present, a newspaper will fail unless it is driven by the needs and interests of its own community's residents - in areas ranging from opinion to news to entertainment."
  2. Uphold First Amendment Responsibilities

    "Newspapers have an obligation to produce public service journalism that is important, necessary, crusading and clearly relevant to its readers. Public service journalism needs to be presented in a manner that makes it easy to read, grasp and use."
  3. Respect Diversity

    "Newspapers should mirror the racial, cultural, religious, economic, lifestyle and ethnic diversity of their communities . . . Newspapers need to give all residents a public voice. What's more, newspaper staffs should mirror the diversity of their communities."
  4. Write with Power

    "Newspapers need to present information in a manner that makes it easy to use. The most effective form of presentation should be selected for each story in the newspaper . . . This means a premium will be placed on clear and compelling writing, direct and forceful headlines, helpful and engaging layout, strong photography and easy-to-understand graphics."
  5. Provide Information People Need

    "Newspapers need information that helps readers cope with and enjoy their lives. Newspapers can become an essential part of readers' lives when they provide information that helps people get things done, that helps them solve their problems, that offers them some direction and that heightens their awareness of their school, community and world.
  6. Evoke Emotions

    "Newspapers should engage and entertain as well as inform. They should move readers to act when appropriate . . . Stimulating, provocative and entertaining content gives newspapers personality and makes readers feel closer to newspapers."
  7. Maintain Consistency

    "Newspapers need to maintain a level of quality and consistency in every section every day. They need to make it easy for readers to find specific kinds of news and information every day, anchoring features and providing regular coverage of news of record. Newspapers also should round out coverage by following up on past stories and continuing coverage of lingering issues."
  8. Emphasize Immediacy

    "Newspapers should convey a sense of urgency. They need to react quickly and thoroughly to major stories and they should advance breaking stories. Newspapers also should strive to present all information in a timely manner."
  9. Foster Interaction with Readers

    "Newspapers need to establish consistent, two-way communication with readers and the community at large. This includes involving residents in the reporting of information and the dissemination of information using new and emerging technology. Two-way communication between residents and readers can break down the image of the arrogant newspaper and help to establish newspapers as a 'member of the family' in their communities."
  10. Anticipate Change

    "Newspapers need to reflect both orderly and disruptive change in their schools, communities and in the world beyond their hometowns. Readers should not be caught short by a topic, trend or development that could have been anticipated. By staying ahead of the trends that shape readers' lives, newspapers can increase their relevance and can attack the perception that they are out of touch or dull."

By Bobby Hawthorne
Former Director, Interscholastic League Press Conference
Please see that Bobby Hawthorne and the ILPC are appropriately credited.