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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

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

About me the roundup

  • 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
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 local for example
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
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 key get social with your media
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 art photo guidelines
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
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 excellence always look for examples
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 excellence resources
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