Part 3

Where Does All That News Come From?

Another good question. There’s scarcely an editor among us who will not agree with the maxim, “Editors should edit the bulletin, not write it.” But life isn’t that kind. Bulletin editors will always have to pursue their sources, and will always have to do a portion of the writing.

It should be a “given” (but seldom is) that all principal officers contribute to the bulletin on a more-or-less regular basis. Foremost among them is the chapter president. He should always have something to say. If he doesn’t, impeach him; he’s not doing his job. So, probably, should the secretary, though he can usually get by with a short summary report of the most recent executive board meeting.

Other chapter officials should know they are expected to contribute periodically:

Membership V.P.—as often as he has plans or projects in progress. His report may be brief, but should detail upcoming activities, recent accomplishments, new member profiles, Man of Note awards, and the like.

Program V.P.—a tough job in these days of chorus- intensive chapter meetings. Often he’s not allowed the luxury of planning meeting activities. He should, however, be in charge and held responsible for complete planning and detailed information of events appearing in the chapter’s activity calendar.

Publicity V.P.—see Membership V.P. comments. Music Committee Chairman—should have things to tell the members rather regularly. Repertoire, vocal training, coaching, learning schedules all are within his purview. He should also be held responsible for accuracy and pertinence of craft stories appearing in the bulletin.

Chorus Director—should have at least a few brief remarks for every issue.

Chorus Manager—periodically, as his needs arise.

Treasurer—occasionally: annual financial statement summaries, reports on show receipts, etc.

Show Chairman—As soon as a show begins to take shape he should become a regular contributor. He can discuss show repertoire, costuming, give a brief scenario, or call attention to needs. His reports should be ongoing right up to show time because an informed, savvy cast can be a great boon to him. And when the show is over, he should prepare the principal wrap-up report and award the appropriate “atta-boys.”


  1. You will always have to pursue some chapter officials for their bulletin contributions. Ours is an imperfect world.
  2. Frequently, brief contributions are better. Some men can say all they know in one paragraph. Anything more is snow. If it’s missing, don’t ask. If it’s supplied, edit rigorously, or don’t use it.
  3. It’s often better to assign a contributor his topic. You get what you’d hoped for more often, and it eliminates tiresome duplications of thoughts and sentiments from several officers, following a major chapter event.
  4. Use gimmicks. Give a man a piece of lined note paper, blank except for the topic you’ve written across the top. Tell him, “Just fill this in for me.” Get fresh insights into chapter activities; ask a new man to describe his first show, contest or convention.
  5. Seek the full support and cooperation of your chapter president. Once gained, you can let him harangue recalcitrant officers for their bulletin articles. You’re no longer the villain.
  6. Earn your contributors’ respect. Maintain a dependable publication schedule and be firm about deadlines. Edit scrupulously. Ask for rewrites if copy is confused or inappropriate. Discourage scoldings, harangues and lectures, but don’t avoid them if they are truly justified. It’s an editorial judgment call.
  7. Be flexible. Accept stories recorded on brown paper bags, audio tape or on computer disks—if you’re lucky to share equipment capability with a contributor.
  8. Make generous use of full names, dates and detailed descriptions of events. You’re also part historian for the chapter.
  9. Recognize that you may sometimes have to do a full rewrite. If your correspondent has minimal writing skills, accept it. Use the facts he provides and write it yourself. Never publish a bad piece of writing verbatim. It demeans your office.


Basically, an expression of the writer’s personal views. Editorials contain personal pronouns (i, me, my mine).

An editorial may comment on a news event, but it should not report the event. Chapter officers should be discouraged from reporting news, and encouraged to write editorially. Editorial writing fixes responsibilities and tells the readers they are being pursued. It is the editor’s responsibility to make this point clear to his officers.

Criticism for its own sake—the dog-in-the-manger or sour grapes variety—should not be allowed in any editorial piece. Constructive criticism should be encouraged. Gripes and complaints should always be accompanied by some suggestions for alternatives; for better ways (in the writer’s opinion) to get the job done. This, again, is an editor’s judgment call, and he can always ask for a rewrite.

The bulletin editor is in a unique position: as he gathers news about his chapter, he gains first-hand knowledge of unfolding events, and he can witness developing trends. He should almost always have an editorial opinion to express.


News stories should always try to answer the six basic questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Good reporting style will place the basic answers to those questions in the story’s lead paragraph, with supporting facts in paragraphs that follow.

This is known as inverted pyramid writing, and is illustrated as follows:

This traditional inverted pyramid form calls for a summary lead and supporting facts arranged in a descending order. The facts most easily dispensed with are placed at the apex of the inverted pyramid. The advantage of this form of reporting is that the story may be cut, paragraph by paragraph, from the bottom up without losing its meaning.

The pyramid form will not, however, support a story that contains a lead and a body of ensuing information leading to a final conclusion, based on the information. This sort of writing is found most often in feature stories.


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