We’ve reached the time in the semester when the students in Writing for Mass Communication are working on a story that has publication potential. We instructors for the course certainly would like to see as many students as possible get published.
By getting published, students have to go through the process of working with an editor — beyond a class teacher. The process helps them learn what editors are expecting and how editors can work with writers to make a story stronger.
By working with editors, they also learn about the mixed experience that can be. Editors can help them see how their reporting needs more work or how their stories could be better organized. The students may learn that what they had thought was a great story has already been published or doesn’t have enough news value to merit being published. The students may not hear from an editor even after multiple contacts. Some students whose stories are published go on to become members of the publication staff or are hired as interns.
For most, getting that byline is a real thrill — even beyond the modest extra credit they receive for getting published.
Students tell of e-mailing the URL of their online stories to their friends and family members. Students get multiple copies of print publications to mail home.
Paige Madsen (my lecture assistant — and to the far left) recruited the panelists and moderated the discussion. The panelists were from The Alligator, The Fine Print and BlackListed Magazine.
Their advice included:
- Read the publication before writing for it so you can become familiar with the target audience and writing style.
- E-mailing is the best approach for making contact with most editors. Be patient in hearing back.
- Be prepared to do additional work on the story. Be ready to work one-on-one with an editor.
- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get your e/h/s story published.