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“Get Involved Reading” Event – Accessing Local Media.

Get Involved Reading – Accessing Local Media,

Thursday 22 November, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon. 5 Queens Walk, Reading, RG1 7QF.

Today’s event was attended by Ornella, Chris B and myself, and was a great success. Alan Bunce, the Community Editor of the Reading Post and James Ashford, its Web Editor, were there as instructors and the event was organised by Rachel Miller (Reading Voluntary Action). The most important message was that the local media want input from us. This is termed “user generated content”. So, what do they want particularly?

Emphasis was placed on press releases/stories that lend themselves to a good accompanying picture. Community-based topics may be listed under the following headings:


Appeals for help




The best appreciated format for a press release is as follows:

(1) A short, to the point, introduction, and specific reference to the local area where the event occurs, e.g. “Charity football match in Woodley.”

(2) Include a direct quote from someone that contains the essence of the story.

(3) Include contact details, mobile phone number and email.

(4) Be available!

It is recommended that you locate the editor (list below) for each section of the newspaper, and approach them directly. It is further appreciated that rather than attaching a word-file, say, the text is simply put into the body of an email message.

James Ashford talked specifically about the kind of photographs that are best suited for publication in a newspaper. He said that they usually print at a resolution of 200 dpi (dots per inch) but that the quality of most electronic cameras including those on mobile phones would do the job fine and not to process or crop the image at all, but simply send the raw image as a separate attachment file (ideally RGB jpeg), including the text in the body of the email message, as before.

He suggested that a good picture should meet the following criteria:

(1) Tight – no wasted space

(2) Bright – Focus on the main character(s) or theme of the subject

(3) Upright – camera face-on, not leaning at an angle.

“People plus props”, so that objects are placed with principal characters that tell you who those persons are, e.g. a rugby player holding a rugby ball. Generally, landscape images are best as this fits in with the available space and format of the paper, but two images, landscape and portrait may be sent for them to choose from, if the latter allows better composition and focus on a key feature.

He pointed out that a photograph adds emotion to a story, beyond what can be imparted by “dry text”.

If there is a large group of people, then interest/focus needs to be introduced (e..g the principal characters can be brought to the foreground, plus props), and a caption added, running from left to right, giving the names to show who is who – up to 10 names. As an example of the former technique, he took a picture of the group of about 20 of us, huddled close but with the people at the front holding copies of the Reading Post, to signify what the event was about.

For a particular cause, he suggests finding a photographer – e.g. volunteers, enthusiasts, Everyone! – and if it’s just not possible to get hold of a photo, use a logo instead. The paper does have professional photographers, and if they are to be used, then don’t have them hanging around for an hour before the event, but tell them exactly when to come, as they have several jobs to do in a day!

Finally, if taking a photograph of an event itself is not feasible, then fake it! In other words, take a picture of e.g. someone retiring after 30 years, actually doing the job they loved, and use that rather than worrying about talking one of the retirement “do” itself.

A good photograph with a good “hook”, something that draws the reader in – people cheering, happy children etc. – is more likely to be published. A picture really can paint a thousand words.


Reading Post/Get Reading editorial contacts:

Sarah Hamilton – news editor

Email: Tel: (0118) 918 3020

Linda Fort – political reporter

Email: Tel: (0118) 918 3021

David Millward – business and transport reporter

Email: Tel: (0118) 918 3009

Paul Cassell – education, environment reporter and The Diary.

Caversham, Emmer Green, Sonning Common, Sonning, Spencers Wood and Shinfield.

Email: Tel: (0118) 918 3063

Vacancy – crime reporter (temporarily send to Sarah Hamilton)

Oxford Road, West Reading, Goring, Pangbourne, Southcote, Newtown and Coley

Vacancy – health reporter and Petfinder (temporarily send to Sarah Hamilton)

Whitley, Woodley, Earley and Lower Earley

Andy Murrill – Editor

Email: Tel: (0118) 918 3024

Hilary Scott – deputy editor

Email: Tel: (0118) 918 3028

Alan Bunce – community editor

Reading, Bracknell and Wokingham

Email: Tel: (0118) 918 3010

Caroline Cook – features editor/What’s on

Reading, Bracknell and Wokingham Tel: (0118) 918 3061

James Ashford – web editor

Email: Tel: (0118) 918 3074

Sports desk (0118) 918 3016

Wokingham desk (0118) 918 3000

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