Category Archives: Columnists

Farewell from the WNA communications director

By James Debilzen WNA Communications Director In journalism school, I was taught to write news stories using the inverted pyramid, putting the most important information up top in a lead that was 35 words or less. This is a column, so there’s a bit more leeway given to the author, but I’ll get right to…

Better Writing With Bart: Mini stories equal maximum payoff

By Bart Pfankuch When I returned to full-time reporting and writing three months ago, I had to skip the warm-up period. As the lone writer for a new non-profit, public-service news service, my task was to immediately develop enterprise material of statewide interest in South Dakota. It hasn’t been easy, but with the help of…

Your Right to Know: Policies put public health at risk

Editor’s Note: Your Right to Know, a monthly column by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, is available for publication at no cost. The Wisconsin Newspaper Association is a founding member of the council. By Christa Westerberg Wisconsin’s open government laws were meant to strengthen our democracy by ensuring an informed electorate. But, sometimes, transparency…

Ad-libs: One way to avoid the accidental sales jibe

By John Foust Selling and sailing have a lot in common. Consider the jibe. A sailboat cannot sail directly into the wind, but it can sail at angles to the wind. The closest point of sail is approximately 45 degrees to the left or right of the wind direction. Turning the bow (the front) of…

Your Right to Know: Let the sunshine in!

Editor’s Note: Your Right to Know, a monthly column by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, is available for publication at no cost. The Wisconsin Newspaper Association is a founding member of the council. By Mark Pitsch In my career as a journalist, I have encountered many public officials who respect government openness and transparency….

Ad-libs: Putting the boss in an ad

By John Foust Sometimes it’s a good idea to feature a boss in an ad. Sometimes it’s not. Two ads come to mind. One shows a plumbing company’s president seated at the head of a conference table, surrounded by a handful of employees. He is the only one looking at the camera, and they are…

Design For Readers: Empty space … or negative space?

By Ed Henninger When I was still working at a newspaper (many more years ago than I care to remember), I showed the cover of a special section to my managing editor. I’ll call him Joe. In the bottom left of the cover was a patch of negative space, about two inches square. Here’s how the…

Ad-libs: A formula for testimonial quotes

By John Foust Testimonials can be convincing elements in advertising campaigns. Will Rogers once said, “Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.” It’s true that happy customers’ statements can be more credible than many of the things advertisers say about themselves. Not all testimonials are created equal….