Writing for the STC New England News
Would you like to help out the Chapter, keep members informed about current events, earn publishing credits, and raise your own profile? Then come write for us!
This is the news site for the STC New England Chapter. On the Chapter website, we publish information about the Chapter and the Society, descriptions of activities, and announcements of upcoming events. On this website, we publish:
- Articles describing (before the fact) and reporting on (after the fact) Chapter programs, workshops, and other events
- A column by the Chapter president
- Longer features of general interest to members
Our volunteer editorial staff goes through submissions before posting them, so for curriculum or résumé purposes you can consider your work here published. (As we publish new articles, old articles are pushed down the stack until they are not directly visible, but as of July 2015 we anticipate retaining articles indefinitely, with permanent links.)
When we publish an article we publicize it on social media (our Facebook page and Twitter feed), and we encourage you to spread the word to your contacts as well.
What Are We Looking For?
We’re always interested in reporting on Chapter events and workshops. If you’ve attended an event or workshop and you’d like to write an account, we’d like to hear from you! Video and photos are especially welcome. To avoid possible duplication of effort, please contact us before beginning to write.
Word counts: We’re not fussy about word counts, but as a guideline we suggest 250 words for announcements, 500 words for accounts, and up to 1000 words for features.
Workflow: It’s simple. Once we’ve agreed on an assignment, draft your article. When your piece is complete, email it to us. We will give it a copyedit and then publish it. (If we feel that substantive edits are required, we may exchange drafts with you, but the News retains final editorial control.)
Format and Style Requirements
If you’re thinking: “Well, yes, that sounds easy enough. But I’ve never written a news story before… Where do I start?” … this section can help.
Calendar: We publish on a rolling calendar as events happen. We prefer descriptions of upcoming events three to four weeks in advance, and reports on events within a week, so we encourage timely submissions. Remember, there is an editorial pass, so you don’t have to polish your prose to perfection. However, if you have time, the best thing you can do is to draft your piece, let it rest overnight, and then come back to re-read it with a fresh eye. You’ll probably catch a typo or two, see a few things you want to change, or remember something you forgot to include.
News article style: News articles follow an inverted pyramid, with the most important facts front-loaded. The first paragraph may be all that appears on the home page or social media, so think about a one-sentence hook or summary of the article, followed by a one-paragraph recitation of the facts.
Formatting: As you can see, we stick to a simple presentation format. We use basic HTML tags for headlines, paragraphs, lists, and so on, but we don’t expect you to put that in — just the words (and pictures). If you’re familiar with coding, feel free to include it, but don’t worry about it — it’s secondary. Email-style formatting is sufficient.
Style guide: Our members enjoy reading factual but informal pieces. We’re looking for accounts, not trip reports. If you enjoyed an event, let it show!
In general, we follow the Associated Press style book for writing style, but if you’re not familiar with it, don’t worry about that, either. The story is more important than the style, and your writing will be looked at by an editor or two before it goes live.
While you’re writing, though, do follow these general guidelines:
- Try to write in active voice — avoid “ing” constructions.
- At the end of a sentence only put in one space. Using two spaces creates too much white space.
- Put only one Return character at the end of each paragraph.
Photos: We accept photos in a range of formats including JPG, PNG, and GIF. 1280 x 768 pixels is a good maximum size for us to include, and 640 x 384 is a good size for illustrations embedded in the text. Be sure to include the photo’s subject, a suitable caption, and the name of everyone appearing in a photo (from left to right). We like to get pictures of authors, too, and 420 x 640 pixels gives good results for a headshot. (Name your headshot firstname_lastname.)
Author credit: Don’t forget to include a brief “About the Author” description of yourself. For example:
Becky Pierce is a senior member of STC and a New England Chapter member. Becky is a Principal Writer for GBLMed in Hopkinton, MA, where she documents internal policies and procedures. Becky enjoys hiking and needlepoint.
Are You a Frequent Contributor? Register as an Author
If you know you will be a regular contributor (as a Chapter officer or — bless you! — a staff reporter), you should register as an author. This provides you with direct access to the creation tools and workflow, and automatically credits you as the author of your piece.
Follow these steps to get set up:
- Finish reading this page, so you know the baseline expectations and what you’re getting yourself into.
- Register as a user. Contact an editor and we’ll help.
- Send us an email to let us know what you’re interested in writing.
- Include a couple of story ideas that you’d like to write, or topics that you’d like to address.
- News stories about something that’s happened are great.
- Feature stories are fine.
- Including digital photos or short video clips is a big plus. The server is finicky about handling them. If the built-in tool doesn’t work, ask for help instead of getting frustrated.
Once you have your account set up, you can start writing.
Writing an Article
This site is currently powered by WordPress, so if you’re familiar with that platform you’re all set. If not, writing an article is easy, especially if you already know how to use a word processor. Just follow these steps:
- Log in. You should be directed to a Dashboard page, which has entries that let you create new and edit old posts. (If it doesn’t automatically display, type: http://news.stcnewengland.org/wp-admin/ into a new browser tab or window.)
- On the left side of your Dashboard, click Posts and select Add New.
The editing window opens; your cursor is in the Headline field.
- Type a short, active-voice headline that describes your story.
- Move your cursor down into the next field, the story field, to write your story.
You can write your story in your favorite word processor and copy-and-paste it from your computer into the story field. Or write directly in the Story field — whichever is easier for you.
As you work online, periodically click Save Draft, on the right side of the page, to keep your content safe. If you need to, you can click Save Draft and then log completely off; your story will be waiting when you return.
When you’re done writing, submit your article.
Submitting Your Article
When you finish writing, perform the easy second step: Submitting. When you submit, you assign tags and categories to help readers find it, and then let us know the story is ready to go.
- Type tags in the Tags field, on the right side of the page.
- Scroll down to the Category field and select one or more categories.
- Look over your story one last time, and click Submit for Review. This moves your story into the “Pending” queue for an editor to review.
- Just so we don’t over-look anything, it’s a good idea to send us an e-mail to let us know that your story is Pending.
Publishing Your Article
Once we’ve given your article the once-over, we send the article to the “Approved” queue and then publish it. The article goes live on the site, and we send out social-media announcements. You can then bask in the glory of a job well done!