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SHINING LIGHT: How to get news in the Lightning

Lightning editor Bill Moss Lightning editor Bill Moss

Bill Murray’s got nothing on me. Every week is Groundhog Day at the Lightning.

Although I know all about God creating us on the sixth day and resting on the seventh, here in the Flat Rock bureau we regularly devote parts of Saturday and Sunday to sorting, merging and editing the community news briefs that we have green-flagged over the past week.

Sometimes I’m Groundhog Day’s frustrated Bill, raging at repetitive language, run-on sentences, sentence fragments, all-caps phrases, words and phrases in quotations that should not be and words and phrases not set off by quote marks that should be. Thanks to yet another Bill — Mr. Gates — Microsoft Word allows me to use search and replace to convert February 2 to Feb. 2.

Most of the time I’m the redeemed benevolent Bill, keeper of the gate that remains wide open to the purveyors of community news. We sort community briefs under two categories. One is for entertainment — Arts Entertainment Music Dance Crafts Classes. The other is for news about clubs, churches, schools, nonprofits and volunteerism, under the hedder Faith Hope Charity Caring Sharing Community Volunteerism Paying Forward Giving Back.

Since the pandemic set in two years ago, we’ve had fewer community briefs than we did for the first eight years of the Lightning but we still get a steady stream of emails in the in-box announcing upcoming performances, church seminars, award winners and new officers. So far, the light at the end of the tunnel, coronavirus-wise, has been an oncoming train. But at some point, the pandemic will fade from a persistent threat to a pesky annoyance and we’ll get more of what we’ve always been able to print and post — performances, in-person fundraisers, lectures and dinners. And we know from experience that in the circadian rhythm of nonprofits, civic clubs and the performing arts this is the time when announcements begin to ramp up.

With that in mind, we like to occasionally remind contributors of a few simple rules to live by when sending announcements to the Lightning. So keep those emails coming and adhere to convention so they’re easier to translate into print and online items for the local news consumer. Thank you in advance.

  • Submit briefs via email by 5 p.m. Thursday before the following Wednesday publication date.
  • Send copy as a Word document or in the body of an email, not as PDFs.
  • Sending a PDF of a poster is not a news release. Use words.
  • Don’t write in first person: “We would like to invite you to our annual fundraising dinner on April 11.”
  • Don’t write in second person: “Come to Hands On! for science week.” … “You won’t believe the Pisgah Baptist Church’s Easter egg hunt this year.”
  • Instead, write in the third person: “Hands On! will host science week March 26-30 …”
  • Avoid gratuitous quotes from your chair, president or executive director. We will delete them.
  • Abbreviate these months when used before a date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec. Include the day of the week: The play runs from Thursday, Feb. 24, to Saturday, March 19.
  • Follow the basics: Who what where when why and how. “The United Way will hold a workshop for agencies requesting donations at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 29, at the Henderson County library.”
  • Include a phone number, email or website for more information for the public.
  • Include a contact name and phone number for the press to call if the press has questions.
  • The Lightning does not have a hard-and-fast rule about how many times it runs your item. We may run it more than once depending on space.
  • Photos: Send IDs for any number of faces under 10 (generally). Identification convention: front row, from left; middle row, from left; back row, from left. Crop as tight as possible. No rear-ends. In focus. Don’t insert photos into Word documents or PDFs. Attach separately as jpgs.
  • Feel free to call with questions about your items, whether we received it, when it will run, etc.
  • Questions, comments, grievances, hosannas: call me at 828-698-0407 or 828-674-0942.