Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Welcoming new readers

It's kind of like a blind date.

You really want to make a good impression. You want to sound friendly but not too eager, committed but not too serious, funny but not offensive.

That’s the art of writing the editor’s welcome note for your first issue of the semester.

You sit down to write it, but what do you really want to say? How can you communicate your passion for journalism without sounding corny? How do you tell readers you really want them to read the newspaper without sounding desperate?

Here are some ideas for writing your editor's welcome note.

* Explain Changes. Introduce new features, new staff, new design elements. If you’re launching a recurring feature, such as a weekly sex column or regular profile or a daily podcast, describe it here. Discuss why you’re making these changes.

* Promote your Web site. Discuss how you’ll be making new efforts this year to integrate online and newspaper and possibly other media, such as video, social networking, podcasting (you are, aren’t you?).

* Provide transparency. Explain how your editorial board works, how people can submit letters to the editors and guest columns, how to notify you about a story.

* Share your enthusiasm. You and your staff are excited about the new semester, right? Show it.

* Reach out to your readers. Explain that your stories are only as good as your sources, that you need them to tell you what’s happening on campus.

* Consider a video welcome. Why type “Hello,” when you can say it? Editors at The South End, the student newspaper of Wayne State University, tried this video welcome message last year when they launched a blog/news Web site hybrid. The production values are a little funky, but it does present a model for a different kind of communication with readers.

Some examples of editor’s welcome notes:
The Crimson White
University of Alabama

Arizona Daily Wildcat
University of Arizona

The BG News
Bowling Green University

The Daily Vidette

Illinois State University

The Telescope
Palomar College

1 comment:

Rachele Kanigel said...

Another good example of this kind of letter is The Hoya's letter to readers at Georgetown University. Check it out at