What you can expect inside the West River Eagle
by Tasiyagnunpa Livermont
In this issue of the West River Eagle, you will find a subtle but important change in style that will help you better navigate the newspaper.
From now on, all pieces in the newspaper submitted by governments, organizations or people not affiliated with the West River Eagle staff or direct contributors will be marked with a byline under the title that says, “Submitted by.”
Why are we doing this?
This ought to be taught in high school, however it’s not uncommon for people to not have received education regarding newspaper content. When citizens do not understand the types of content in a newspaper it inhibits a reader’s ability to use that information to make their own informed decisions.
Considering a newspaper’s main function is to further, engage and supply an informed citizenry—tribal, state and local in the West River Eagle’s case, this simple change is to help our readers better understand where their information is coming from and we want to use that opportunity to create dialogue about newspaper content in general.
Main Types of Content
Let’s look at the main types of content in the West River Eagle, how to identify them and what the process is behind their publication in the paper. This is in no way an academic glossary, but some laymen’s terms for the benefit of our readers.
Besides for our sports photos, our advertising is the largest and most eye-catching piece of the newspaper. As most everyone knows, advertising is content set aside using graphic elements that is paid for by the entity being advertised.
This is the general reference term for those pieces written by an editor or newspaper reporter who is using basic journalism ethics and techniques. The reporter is usually a paid staff member of the West River Eagle. You can recognize a newspaper story by the byline which will be under the title, but also by the content. Straight news stories cover things like city meetings or events. They can also include feature pieces about people or organizations. You will see direct and passive quotations, a lede graph, and sometimes a picture. The language will be direct and follow Associate Press style, rather than other types of written English styles, though in the case of feature stories there might be more description. Sports stories are a type of news story, though they tend to follow their own writing style as a sports piece.
Though I am not an editor and this isn’t just opinion, what you are reading right now would best be considered an editorial. It is written by someone working at the newspaper to explain why the newspaper is doing what it is doing. That is one type of opinion/editorial piece. Other editorial pieces may be more human interest, like our “Animal Crackers.” We also receive submitted pieces by organizations that put together columns, such as the gardening column done by the Soiled Hands Society or folks who do the locals or other straight opinions. So opinion/editorial can be written by the newspaper editorial staff or other staff members, other entities and by other individuals.
A lot of good and necessary community information comes to the newspaper in the form of press releases, especially those sent to us by the schools, cities, tribe, counties and community non-profit organizations. It is not always possible to send a reporter to cover everything nor necessary. However, as the reader, you should know that this information is in no way filtered or edited by the newspaper, except sometimes for length or clarity. There is no journalistic rigor applied to the information, and we aren’t paid to print it. Starting this week, you will find these pieces clearly marked with the “Submitted by” and that will tell you who to go to if you should have questions or issues with that particular content. Sometimes, there will be an overlapping news story about this information, so for fun you may compare the two and see what different sorts of information you can glean from both types of content.
The West River Eagle has the status of being a ‘legal newspaper,’ according to the guidelines of South Dakota codified law. As a legal newspaper, it’s the paper of public record, so the school board and City of Eagle Butte, and other entities publish their minute drafts and other legal notices with us. This is paid by the governmental entity as per law as well. Minutes should be made available to the public within ten days of the meeting according to State Codified Law 1-27-1.17, unless a video or audio recording of the entire meeting is made available on the governing body’s website within 5 days. The legals are not touched by the newspaper except to format them—the words are not changed. Sometimes you will find legal draft minutes of a meeting from a governing body, as well as a reporter’s new story covering that meeting in the same or subsequent issues of the paper. Again, comparing the two will give you more information on the topics and issues at hand.
If you have any questions about any of these page elements, please feel free to call and ask. We hope that we have given our readers one more tool to become better informed.
You can reach reporter Tasiyagnunpa Livermont at email@example.com or leave her a voicemail at (605) 964-4515. Livermont works part-time from her home for the West River Eagle. Her homepage is betweenleafandsky.wordpress.com.