Submission Guide

Thinking of sending something in to the Mad River Union? Great – we want it! 

Please take a moment to review the guidelines below to help make sure your submission gets used.

If you have any questions, call (707) 826-7000 or write editor@madriverunion.com.

• NEWS RELEASES/PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS

Unlike opinion submissions, news releases and public service announcements (PSAs) are intended not to express a personal opinion, but rather inform the public of a newsworthy event. We welcome announcements about special events, weddings, anniversaries, children who won awards, etc. If you caught a big fish, send us a photo.

The deadline for news releases is Friday at 5 p.m.  Please e-mail your PSA in the body of your e-mail and/or as a Word-compatible or plaintext attachment. E-mail does not have to be re-typed and reduces delays and typograhpical errors. E-mail news releases and PSAs to news @ madriverunion.com.

News releasesand PSAs may be edited for spelling, grammar, length and clarity and will be printed on a space-available basis. Releases on local topics always have priority.

• STYLE GUIDELINES and a wonderful example.

For maximum usability, releases should be written in Associated Press (AP) style, which is news industry standard. Write in paragraphs, not bullet points. Here’s an example of a perfect press release:

The Arcata Canine Club invites the public to the sixth annual Mutt Market, Saturday, Aug. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Arcata Playhouse, 1251 Ninth St. in the Creamery District of Arcata. The event features live music, silent auction, pet portraits and food vendors catering to both people and dogs! Admission is free. Leashed dogs are welcome; please leave cats at home. (707) 555-7000, arcatacanineclub.com

This simple release uses standard date and time expressions, tells the reader something about the event and offers contact information. Just substitute your specifics where it matters and you’re in!

General do’s and don’ts (Do’s are in bold for easy reference.):

• TIME: Remember that a.m. and p.m. are lowercase abbreviations punctuated with periods, like this: 9 a.m. Or 10 p.m. Not 9AM or 9:00am.

If you do nothing else correctly, please don’t make us fix your “PM!”

• DATES: When giving a date, always include the day of the week, spelled out, rather than the year. That way, the reader can make a quick mental note to fit your event into their weekly schedule. It is much more effective to tell the reader that the event is on Saturday, Aug. 15 than it is to tell them it is on Aug. 15, 2015 (presumably, they know what year it is).

Also, dates such as “Tues., June 20th” or “September 2nd” are incorrect. It would be Tuesday, June 20 and Friday, Sept. 2. Abbreviate any month longer than five letters (Jan., Feb., March, April, May, June, July, Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.).

• ADDRESSES: Always include an address for the event. Spell out numbered streets from First through Ninth streets, then use numbers (e.g., Sixth St. but 16th St.). Do not put lettered street names in quotation marks (e.g., it is 1065 K St. in Arcata, not 1065 “K” Street). Abbreviate “Street” to “St.” in addresses. Include the city, as both Arcata and Eureka have numbered and lettered streets. Do not include “CA” or “California” as this is assumed unless otherwise stated.

 • PHONE NUMBERS: Include area codes in parentheses with phone numbers. Do not use periods or other non-standard ways to present phone numbers. The proper way is (707) 826-7000, not 707.826.7000 or 707-826-7000.

 • E-MAIL ADDRESSES AND WEBSITE URLS: Italicize website URLs and e-mail addresses. Both are words and should have a period after them if they end a sentence. Don’t include “http://” or “www.” with URLs, like so: For more information, visit madriverunion.com.

• NUMBERS: As a general rule, spell out numbers from one to nine, including streets (She was the third daughter out of 12 children of the family living on Fifth St.).

 • PRONOUNS: Don’t use pronouns like “we” or “you” in the release; i.e., “We invite you to our super-fun event.” This makes it sound like the Mad River Union is hosting the event. Instead, use your group’s name: “Bowlers of Arcata host a multi-lane showdown,” etc. Similarly, “You can learn exciting new things” should be, “Participants can learn the mating calls of the Northwestern Wapiti,” etc.

• TITLES: Composition titles, such as plays, movies, books, etc., are italicized. Individual songs, or chapters from a book, should be in quotation marks. For example: The “Eye of the Beholder” column in the Mad River Union is the first thing some people turn to every week.

 • GENERAL WRITING TIPS: Generally, write clean. Avoid extreme punctuation!!?!?! One well-placed exclamation mark is much more effective than a sea of extraterrestrial punctuation! Avoid weird fonts or colors. Please do not use ALL CAPITAL LETTERS; it feels like you are shouting at the reader. DON'T YELL AT US!?! (See?) Use the present tense. Don’t say your group “will meet,” say it “meets.” Don’t say you “will be holding” an event, say you “are holding” it.  Spall-chuck, that is, spell-check.

• PHOTOS: We welcome photos! Attach photos as jpeg files to your e-mail. We cannot use them if they are embedded in a Word document. Do make sure that your photos are a usable size. Large photos can be reduced, but small photos lose clarity in print when enlarged, even if they looked good on your computer screen. That said, please don't send pictures more than 2MB in size. A good size for a photo submission is 700x700 pixels. Please be sure to tell us the names of people appearing in the photo, as people like to see their names in print.

For more tips on correct usage, consult innumerable online resources by searching for “AP style.” If you have questions, call (707) 826-7000 and ask them. We’re happy to help, and it makes life easier for everyone to do it right the first time.

• LETTERS TO THE EDITOR/OPINION COLUMNS

Opinions expressed in columns, cartoons and letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Mad River Union. But they might – you just never know.

Deadline for submissions of opinions and letters is Thursdays at noon. Please e-mail your letter in the body of your e-mail, not as an attachment. E-mail does not have to be re-typed and reduces delays and typograhpical errors. Send your letter to the editor to opinion @ madriverunion.com.

Letters and opinion columns are welcome and will not be edited for spelling, grammar or content. Excessively long letters and columns may be reluctantly edited for length. Letters will be printed on a space-available basis. Letters on local topics always have priority.

Letters must be signed with a real name and include a phone number. The Union does not publish anonymous or “name withheld” letters; writers must take responsibility for their expression.

If you wish to communicate privately and don’t want your letter published, be sure to indicate that it is not for publication.

• OBITUARIES

The Mad River Union prints obituaries up to 250 words free of charge. Photos are welcome. Obituaries longer than 250 words, but less than 500, are $100 a week. 500 to 1000 words are $200 a week. When counting words, we are not sticklers for what does, and does not, consitute a word; just make sure your word count is in the ballpark. The Mad River Union is printed every Wednesday. Please e-mail obituaries to editor@madriverunion.com by 5 p.m. the Friday before.

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