Twelve Commandments for Council News

  1. News is for residents. Press releases are for journalists. Thou shalt mark the distinction and honour it in all thy labours.
  2. Thy reader is not an Editor and does not require his Notes. Likewise, his news shalt end when it ends, not when he espies “ENDS”.
  3. Thou shalt reveal thine identity and authorship of thy works. Thou art not the Masons, at least not officially.
  4. Thou shalt adopt a friendly and approachable tone unlike that employed by Global Megacorp plc when announcing Q3 sales results or a Soviet republic proclaiming its turnip yields.
  5. Councillor Joan Bogus, cabinet member for soundbites, said, “Thou shalt not contrive to quote thyself nor thy colleagues in thine own works. If thou hast something to say thou shalt just say it, employing the first person singular or plural as appropriate.”
  6. Thou shalt write headlines that encapsulate thy story complete, not contrive to employ a witty device nor tease thy reader as to its import. Thereby shalt thy reader not waste her time clicking on irrelevant links nor suffer though passing over vital facts.
  7. Thou shalt reveal thy personality and point of view, or where such things are absent, contrive thine utmost to appear to possess suchlike without such conceit being divulged. Thou shalt reject the entreaties of thy colleagues who both hold dear and embody the axiom that professionalism and personality are mutually exclusive.
  8. Thou shalt labour to convey why thy reader might care, thus attempting to pass the “So what?” test at the earliest juncture.
  9. Thou shalt labour to accompany thy words with relevant and high quality photographs of the people and activities described therein. Thou shalt forswear stock photography libraries and all their evil works and the half-arsed efforts of thy colleagues who, while possessing fine photographic equipment in their hands, possess none between their ears.
  10. Thou shalt not recycle thy news headlines for thy tweets nor thy Facebook status updates but shalt write such material afresh to consider properly the tone, audience and constraints of those divers media.
  11. Thy works have great social value but no commercial value. Thereby, thou shalt release thy works with a Creative Commons licence such that others might republish them and spread thy word. Thou shalt enjoin thy colleagues who fear such measures to get over themselves. The sky will not fall on their heads, for goodness sake.
  12. Above all, thou shalt value thy reader’s time and not treat thy website as a repository for dismal and ill-conceived works that thou would rightly balk to print.

2 comments