Journalism 101: How to Write for Local Newspapers
I was looking in my files and I found this older piece. I still think it can be useful for some of you. I don't know, but I think everyone can write for the newspaper, if we find one that will let us have a column. I have many friends that do already. If anyone gets a paid story or poem from it please let me know. Even if you find an online e-zine to write for, think of the exposure you would have.
Here are a few tips.
Major publications will not accept your writing if you are a virtual unknown. So I would not suggest that you try to write for the New York Times. Some will not take you seriously without a writing degree, or a degree in journalism. However if you have a writing portfolio established or at least some good writing samples of your work, it is possible to get a column in a small town newspaper. Lifestyle pieces are very popular these days and the best angle to take is to write what you know.
Local newspapers tend to give new or unpublished writers a chance. It comes down to a matter of being at the right place at the right time. If you go local you might even get an interview where you can sit down with the newspaper editor and discuss your plan for the column.
Make sure you are organized; you have a plan, and know just where you are going with the article. Be flexible enough to change some aspects of the plan if the editor is not entirely sold on the idea though not outright opposed to it.
Familiarize yourself with the flavor of the paper. For example, if the paper is primarily a farming community paper, chances are they would not be interested in a column on big city living.
Whether or not you meet in person or are planning on writing for a newspaper thousands of miles away through the Internet highway, you must be prepared. You need to know the contact person's name. You need to know the principles and practices of the newspaper.