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Improving Your Publication. 10 Tips for going from good to great Mr. Mica Mulloy/Brophy College Prep Download from Look in the “About>Staff Resources” section. About Me/THE ROUNDUP.

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Improving Your Publication

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Improving Your Publication

10 Tips for going from good to great

Mr. Mica Mulloy/Brophy College Prep

Download from roundup.brophyprep.orgLook in the “About>Staff Resources” section


  • Advisor for The Roundup for 5 years. Teach Journalism and Photography. Former reporter and photographer in Arizona. NAU Journalism grad. Editor of The Lumberjack.

  • 2011 AIPA 1st Place for General Excellence

  • 2011 ANA “Best High School Newspaper”

  • Multiple NSPA Story/Design of the Year awards

  • 150 individual state and national honors in last 5 years


  • We are not perfect. Not by a long shot. My advice is just advice.

  • Apply it to your publication as you see fit.

  • Download from roundup.brophyprep.orgLook in the “About>Staff Resources” section

Local, Local, Local

  • Identify your community. Write for them. (Hint: It’s students)

  • Avoid national/state/city stories unless you look only at how it directly impacts students.

    • News and Sports: All “local”

    • Opinions and Entertainment: As local as you can get. Give priority to local opinions/stories. Anything not local should directly impact students.

  • Write about what’s happening in your community, don’t rehash 6-week old news everyone already knows about or doesn’t care about.

Local, Local, LocalFor example



Write about a student or grad who went to Olympic trials.

Write about students who organized an SB1070 protest. Better: A student whose family is here illegally and is afraid.

Write a profile about a student who spent months volunteering for a campaign

  • Write a general story about the Summer Olympics

  • Write an overview of the Supreme Court SB1070 decision

  • Write a recap of presidential and/or state elections

If you don’t have a local thread, look harder or don’t run the story

online presence is key

  • Develop and maintain an active online presence. If you aren’t online, get there. Today. No excuses.

  • Hosting a website

    •, Tumblr,

    • Great article from JEA, especially for reticent principals

    • Be proactive: Write an online commenting policy

  • Create a culture where online is important, not just a dumping ground for what didn’t fit in the print edition.

  • Update regularly. Don’t just overload the site once a month and let it sit.

    • At least 2 to 3 times/week if possible

online presence is keyGet Social with your media

  • Students are on social media. If your publication isn’t, you’re out of the loop.

  • Publication Facebook and Twitter accounts are musts

    • Post links to stories

    • Deliver quick news

    • Share other news

    • Solicit reader input/feedback

    • Keep your finger on the school’s pulse



  • Readers look for news much less than they ever did. News has to come to them.

Use rolling deadlines

  • Avoid the inevitable end-of-the-month rush/overload and break your deadlines up.

  • The Roundup uses two writing deadlines for each monthly cycle.

    • Short articles, columns, past events, timely reviews usually due within 1 week.

    • Longer news articles, in-depth features, extensive interviews, etc usually due within 2 weeks.

  • Helps keep staff on task

  • Allows editors to devote more attention to revisions

  • Keeps top editors and your adviser a little more sane

Master the Fundamentals

  • You have to do the basics well if you want to continue to get better. Period.

  • Write strong, concise, active ledes and heds

  • Avoid 1st Person in News and Sports with very rare exceptions.

  • Do not editorialize in anything but opinion pieces.

  • Don’t steal photos.

    • Attribution does not equal permission

    • Google Images = stealing

  • Use the AP Style Guide

  • Write/Use a staff manual.

Run regular Enterprise packages

  • Anchor each edition with an enterprise package—an in-depth, extensive and/or investigative collection of articles and art.

  • Could be topical, issue-oriented or feature-based

  • Span sections whenever possible

Cover sports actively

  • Your printed edition likely doesn’t come out nearly as frequently as your school teams compete. Don’t fill your pages with old recaps no one cares about anymore.

  • DO write regular gamers, but post them online asap.

  • Post scores on Twitter/Facebook in game or postgame.

  • Try an aggregate of the last month’s worth of games in the printed edition instead of full articles.

  • Features and in-depth articles are more evergreen.

    • Player profiles, coach profiles, quirky traditions, interesting superstitions, devoted fans, etc.

Clean Layout is vital

  • How you layout pages will determine how people view and judge your content. Keep layout clean, professional and organized.

  • Design top to bottom

    • Dominant art on each page. Most important stories on top.

  • Use white space. Consider internal borders.

    • 1 pica between all elements

  • Keep columns less than 2 inches wide.

  • Keep grafs 1 or 2 sentences max

  • Never cut off text with art.

  • Use the “Dollar Bill” rule

    • If you can put a dollar bill on the page and it only touches body text, your page is too gray. Add art elements.

Be consistent with fonts

  • Font choice is extremely important when it comes to design and legibility. Pick a handful of fonts for your publication and use them consistently and exclusively.

  • You’ll need fonts for:

    • Main heds& Regular heds

    • Sub heds

    • Body text

    • Bylines

    • Cutlines

    • Graphics/Pull quotes

  • Serif font for body text. Sans Serif for important info

  • Be consistent with size.

  • Be really careful with color/shadows/bevels/etc.

Arial Black


Palatino Linotype

Arial Narrow


Use Great art

  • Do whatever you can to fill your publication with great art. Photos, Illustrations,Infographics, Pull quotes, Etc.

  • Great art makes your publication look good.

  • Great art creates entry points to your articles.

  • Great art adds to the story/tells a story on its own.

Use Great arTPhoto guidelines

  • NSPA Best of Photography 2010

  • Fill the frame. Use the Rule of Thirds.

  • Take candid photos. Never stage news/sports photos.

  • Be creative with portraits. Don’t run a “mug” shot as a portrait.

  • Run great photos BIG

    • Running a lousy photo bigger doesn’t make it better!

  • Give your photogs credit

  • Don’t run cutlines on top of photos.

Strive for Excellence

  • Excellence breeds excellence. Work towards it in all you do.

  • Create a culture of excellence by leading by example and only accepting your best work.

Strive for ExcellenceAlways look for examples

  • No publication is perfect. Always seek as many outside examples as you can find.

  • If you are looking with an open mind there will always be something you can take from another publication.

  • Look for story ideas, design ideas, photo ideas, etc.

    • If you see something you like, steal it!

  • Participate in newspaper exchanges.

    • Email your paper’s address to [email protected] and we’ll mail you our editions if you promise to send your paper back.

  • IMPORTANT: Winning an award is not a sign that you have arrived and you are done. An award recognizes you were on the right path at that moment in time. Keep going!

Strive for ExcellenceResources


  • NSPA’s “The Wheel”

  • Student Press Law Center

  • Poynter’s News University


  • Mr. Mica Mulloy/Brophy College Preparatory

  • [email protected]


  • Twitter: @BCPJournalism

  • Veteran Voice quotes/images from NSPA

  • Download from roundup.brophyprep.orgLook in the “About>Staff Resources” section

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