CMA Conference Presentation On Localization

Beyond Campus: How to Cover National News

LOCALIZATION is about reader engagement. The theory of localization is to take a national or regional story idea and make it suitable for your college newspaper by making it specific to at least one of three areas: Your campus, your location, or to the overall experience of college life.
Your goal is to understand the CONCEPT that national newspapers are writing about and then strip away all sources the previous story used, and then find new sources that fulfill your specific needs. It allows the opportunity for some fun investigative and enterprising features.

FIND YOUR EXPERTS! Who can speak about this topic intelligently?

A) Professors
B) Administrators
C) Clubs
D) Students general opinion
– Students who are active/aware, or who have experienced it
– On Campus Polls – 200 is a strong number
EXAMPLE: A poll presented by Pew Research Center stated half of United States citizens could not pass a general test on world religions. How can we localize?
EXAMPLE: Gun control may be the hottest topic in the country. Who can we speak to bring that story’s relevance to our campus?

A) Regional Experts
B) Alumni
C) Students who live, dine or travel throughout the area
EXAMPLE: An owner of a local pizzeria is arrested for drug distribution that was taking place inside his restaurant. The establishment is off-campus, but it is a favorite local hangout of students. Is it a story?
EXAMPLE: Last January, the FBI scored the largest single arrest in Mafia history in New York. Can we make this relevant to our campus? Should we call the FBI? Would they call us back?

A) Experts from any area
B) Officials from local, state or federal agencies
C) Company spokesmen
D) Industry experts
E) College student from another college

– Understand the essence of the story
– Scrap all of their sources. Find your own. Do not use quotes from the other articles.
– Your national story quoted a power player? Why can’t yours? CALL PEOPLE. All they can say is no.
– If a national story attributes information to a certain document, study or report, seek out that document yourself. See the information with your own eyes.


1) Radar reveals buried channels on Mars
Scientists peering below the surface of Mars have for the first time detected a maze of channels apparently created by past flooding. Such geologic features are easily spotted on the Martian surface, but researchers have not been able to find them underground until now.
2) Tattoos No Longer A Kiss Of Death In The Workplace
Almost everyone in the 14 percent pool of tattooed Americans has heard something like this from a relative or friend. But as the number of inked Americans grows, is the traditional assumption that tattoos and jobs don’t mix really true in 2013?
Workplace tattoo policies vary among and within industries. But with many contemporary companies stressing commitments to diversity and inclusion, tattoos are becoming increasingly unproblematic across the board.

3) College tuition soars as states reduce funding

Growing enrollments and declining state budgets have been putting the squeeze on colleges and universities for the past 25 years, but the problem got a lot worse last year, says a new report from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. That’s bad news for college students and their families, because it falls to them to make up the difference. The percentage of college costs supported by tuition has climbed steadily from 23 percent in 1987 to 47 percent in 2012. Average tuition rates in the U.S. climbed a record 8.3 percent last year.The vice-grip is worse for Utah schools, where money from the state declined by 26.6 percent since 1987, more than at the majority of schools around the nation. The national average for declines in state funding for higher education is 23.1 percent.n n

4) U.S. Catholics Divided On Church’s Direction Under New Pope (Pew Research)

– Prof. Michael Perrota, Mercy College. or Tweet @mperrota


Nine Steps of Creating a Formidable College Newspaper

Chronicle Staff, ca. 1908-1911
Chronicle Staff, ca. 1908-1911 (Photo credit: Duke Yearlook)

The process of creating a great newspaper is… actually a process. Newspapers don’t start and become great. They all pretty much start at the bottom and get better as the staff earns experience and sets precedent. Here is a good grading stystem to find out where your paper is and how it can get better.


1 – COLOR: Moderns newspapers need color. Not spot color. Full color. It does not have to be through the entire paper. Color plates come in four sides, so at least the front page, back page, and two inside pages must have color.

2 – DESIGN: Presentation is key for a college newspaper. Some students don’t pick up their high school or college newspaper because it looks unprofessional. Basic design principals must apply for all college newspapers. This includes the consistency of headline size and font, cutline size and font, and typical body copy size and font. Not only should the design be consistent, but components should be properly used and be viewed as appealing to the reader.

3 – COPY EDITING: All newspapers have errors from time to time. But not every week, and not all over the place. Stories should be clean of lazy spellings and incorrect information. Headlines and cutline errors are extremely noticeable. Take pride in rereading stories and producing a clean product.

Before an adviser or editor can even begin to address editorial issues with a college newspaper, it must at least a fresh and clean product to present.


4 – LEADS: It all starts with how it starts. Leads are the lifeblood to any story. The opening 30 words of a news story (one sentence, one paragraph) and the engaging leads of a feature story will determine to a casual reader how professional this newspaper is. Whether readers hang around for the entire story or not, at least the lead should be able to tell readers the traditional 5W and the H in a crisp, tight manner. If a lead is poorly written, it’s a fair assumption that the rest of the article is poorly written.

5 – ORIGINAL AND ENGAGING PHOTOS: Yes, we already covered color and presentation. But photo journalism can be the difference from someone picking up a newspaper. Most likely, a student publication doesn’t have a team of photographers that are capable or have the resources of taking a paper full of original photos. Some photos will be borrowed from national media websites and company websites. But not all of them can be, and not all of them can be the traditionally boring point and click as five people stare at the camera with a smile. Photos need have someone doing something. Photos need to be tried in different lighting and angles. Take risks with photos. Try something different. Stop using Google Images and printing pixilated  messes.

6 – DIVERSE STORIES WITHIN SECTIONS: There is nothing worse than seeing one story in a newspaper about sports, sandwiched next to a story about gardening. Students need to have a grouping system of what is being written about. News and feature stories should blend together. But finance, opinion, sports, entertainment, education, religion and any others sections need to be designed together. Give the reader a roadmap of what they are looking at. Now within those sections, there should be diverse stories about those topics.


7 – LOCALIZATION: The art of taking national stories and localizing them to one of three topics – the actual college, the location or college life as a whole. If the President of the United States speaks, don’t cover the story the same way USA Today would. How does what he said impact college students? How does it impact your area? Any story can be localized. A story about NASA and space exploration is localized once you contact your college’s astronomy professor for quotes and insight.

8 – ENTERPRISE WRITING: Not every story can be a retread of what the national media is spitting out. Find stories that aren’t so obvious. The psychological effect of date rape on campus or finding students who support themselves financially without their parents. These stories do not need a national publication to set precedent for you to write about them.

9 – SOURCE QUALITY: Impress your readers by quoting national organizations. Call the FBI. Call the FDA. Call the NRA. Odds are, as long as you are professional, their public relations teams will call you back. Your sources can’t always be the same six kids who are sitting around in the cafeteria.


10 – SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPLEMENT: The industry is changing, and you have to adapt. You need a website, and you need social media. That does not mean you to put a dagger through the heart of long form journalism and only write 140 character stories. Instead, use social media to advertise your newspaper’s website. Facebook and Twitter share. Find followers. Stay active (but don’t be overbearing or annoying) The more likely someone reads the college newspaper online or are a follower of it on social media, that means they are a supporter – and that means they will pick up the hard copy.