Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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Writing for Publication
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Stories are a powerful way to communicate a message, call people to action, record history, and share ideas.

The Northwest Gleaner magazine and Washington Conference want to better partner with you to strengthen our storytelling abilities. Part of this partnership is sharing expectations.

Here is a quick checklist of what you need to know about writing for the Gleaner, conference publications, and other Adventist publications:

STORY ALLOTTMENT
Each month, Washington Conference is allotted three news pages in the Northwest Gleaner magazine (for conference news, church news and school news). This editorial space typically holds 5-6 stories of approximately 200-225 words each (for about 400 words per page). One or two quality photos with captions per story are also included.

GENERAL STORY THEMES
Gleaner stories typically highlight community awareness, discipleship, the value of Adventist Christian education, community building and leadership enrichment. Church and school milestone stories are also considered for publication.
 
STORY STRUCTURE
Great Stories have this basic framework:
     1) Basic Headline (Subject, Verb, Descriptor)
     2) Creative summary intro (who, what, when, where)
     3) Quick background or context (why this story matters to Northwest readers)
     4) Quote from leader
     5) Ministry/Event details (how)
     6) Quote from participant/volunteer
     7) Non-Editorial Wrap-up or Call to Action
     8) Byline - author name and connection to the story
 
Great stories for print are 200-225 words and include 2-3 interesting, good-quality photos (approx. 1 MB or larger in size) with captions. Great stories are turned in soon after the event (within 1-2 weeks) for greatest impact and relevance. Web stories range from 100-600 words in length.

TEN TIPS FOR BETTER WRITING
Be impeccably accurate. Establish a history of credibility. Use language the public can understand. Be objective. Follow the inverted pyramid structure (most important to least important information). Construct a great lead. Keep words simple and sentences short. Use the active voice. Watch for human interest stories. Include active, high resolution photos.

TEN THINGS TO AVOID
Be careless with facts. Use subjective language. Use Adventist jargon. Falsely attribute quotations. Use the passive voice. Bury the main point in the second paragraph (or lower in the story). Load sentences with descriptive words. Wait until the last minute to submit. Neglect good photos. Hassle the editors.
 
PHOTO SELECTION
Vibrant photos help the reader visually understand your story. Choose clear, sharp, attractive, and colorful images. Select “active” photos.  Avoid portraying subjects in stiff or unflattering poses. When taking photos with most point-and-shoot cameras, use the highest settings on your camera. Your photo files should be at least 1 MB in size. If you have lots of photos, and you’re not sure which photos to submit, upload your photos to a photo sharing site (such as Flickr or even Facebook), and send the link to info@washingtonconference.org. Be sure to attach, not embed, images to your email when you send in your story.
 
CAPTION WRITING
Captions entice the reader to read your story, and are the most read part of a publication. Captions are essentially a one-sentence synopsis of your story. In a full sentence, a caption describes what is happening in the photo, who is pictured in the photo (by name or by general descriptor), and why the people are in the photo.
 
EDITORIAL PROCESS
All articles, regardless of the author, are edited. You begin the editorial cycle by thoroughly reviewing your article for accuracy: facts, name spelling, locations, details, grammar and punctuation, story flow and story context. Once you submit your story, editors look at story length, context or value for Northwest readers, grammar and punctuation, style (states, dates, titles), headlines, captions and photograph credit, byline credit. All stories have room for improvement and clarification.
 
STORY USAGE
Stories submitted to Washington Conference may appear in conference publications (Anticipate, website, social networks, etc.), the Gleaner (print edition, online edition, e-newsletter, or website), Adventist World, and/or other publications. The timeliness and interest of the story depends on where the story will be placed.
 
OPEN DIALOGUE
We are open to dialoguing with you about story ideas and placement. If you’d like to pitch a story before you write it, feel free to email a short, 1-paragraph summary (with who, what, when, why, where details) to info@washingtonconference.org. When writing the pitch and particularly the story, show your passion! Explain why this suggested story is important.

CONTACTS
Depending on the story, it may be used in the print publication, the Gleaner e-newsletter, the Gleaner web site, or in conference publications.
  • Stories should be sent to info@washingtonconference.org; info@gleanernow.com. To submit multiple, large photo files, email washingtonconference@gmail.com or use a service such as WeTransfer, YouSendIt, or DropBox.
  • To place paid advertisements in the Gleaner, email info@gleanernow.com.
  • To submit anniversary, birth, birthday, obituary, and wedding announcements, visit www.gleanernow.com, click on Contributors’ Information, and scroll down to Announcement Worksheets.