You, too, can write a story!
By Senior Airman Stephen Musal , 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 17, 2009
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Every week, this office writes and edits articles for publication to this base. Whether you get your base news from the Goodfellow Monitor or online at http://www.goodfellow.af.mil, the articles published all filter through the Public Affairs office.
However, not all articles originate here. We wouldn't have the time to cover all the interesting stories if we tried! The subject-matter experts on fire training, special instruments, intelligence, readiness and the many other career fields on Goodfellow work in their respective offices. While we do try to get out and interview the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines on base, the fact is that there are only two of us on the newspaper/Web staff at any given time, and thousands of servicemembers on Goodfellow.
As such, public affairs relies on articles submitted from all over Goodfellow! After an editing process, in which we make changes necessary to conform to AP style (the journalist standard of publication as set down by the Associate Press), we post them on our Web site as well as in the newspaper.
If you're interested in writing an article for publication, here are a few tips to prepare your piece for submission.
1. Ask yourself, "Why is this worth publishing?" Without a good story behind your article, even a timely informational piece may not be printed. A good way to measure your piece's relevance is to check the "10 Elements of Mass Appeal," which are:
- Immediacy: When did it happen? The sooner you submit the article after the event, the better.
- Proximity: Did it happen on base or in San Angelo? What is the tie to the military?
- Consequence: How does this affect the people on base / in the community?
- Conflict: Combat experiences, competitive sports and other conflicts make for an interesting article.
- Oddity: Is it something new and different?
- Gender: Stories about women in combat, sexual assault prevention or single parenthood are rare, and thus interesting to the reader.
- Emotion: Stories which appeal to emotion are more interesting than boring, cold stories.
- Prominence: Does this story involve someone well-known on base or in the community?
- Suspense: Articles about events which are in progress build suspense, giving readers a chance to get involved.
- Progress: Stories about the Air Force moving forward are always of interest.
Obviously, the average story will not have ALL of these elements, but making sure you have one or two should make your story more readable. Always check for the tie to the military; it's hard for us to justify running even the greatest story which has no relation to the base.
2. Check for operational security concerns, factual accuracy and policy violations. You know your unit and your mission better than we do, so if you don't catch something in this category, the chances are we won't either (except for operational security).
3. Don't editorialize. An article is meant to be factual, and if there are opinions expressed, those opinions should appear in quotes and be attributed. The bottom line is, unless the article is a commentary, most people care less about what the author thinks than about what is or isn't true.
4. Don't quote yourself. I cannot count the amount of times I've seen this in articles, so I'm going to say it here: if you are an article's author, you cannot quote yourself. Find someone else to interview, or give someone else credit for writing the article. If you can't find anybody else to interview or credit, send the whole thing to public affairs and we can re-write it, quoting you.
5. Submit via e-mail. If we don't have to re-type something, we're more likely to run it sooner rather than later. The public affairs staff can be reached at email@example.com.
6. If you can, submit a photo with your story. In a newspaper or on the Web, a photo draws attention to a story and brings a reader in. Furthermore, it provides valuable context and makes a boring wall of text look worth reading.
If you don't have time to write an article or even snap a photo, don't be afraid to send the idea to the public affairs office via e-mail. Oftentimes, we're not apprised of events on base, so the sooner you let us know, the more likely that we can have someone cover the event via video, photo or print journalism.
For more information, call Senior Airman Stephen Musal at 654-3880 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.