Don Heinzman column: The process of writing a column

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Don Heinzman

Don Heinzman

Never before has the media, including newspapers, been under such consistent attack by those who want to discredit accurate reporting, even calling it “fake” news.

I thought it might help if I explained what a writer like me goes through to craft a column from the time I have an idea until it’s published in a newspaper.

I’ve written about the need to respect people’s leisure time Sunday mornings by starting Little League tournament games in the afternoon. This occurred to me after my granddaughter’s softball game was scheduled on Father’s Day – a day when the entire family should celebrate dad.

When I inquired of a coach, he said players were free to celebrate Father’s Day. But he admitted those who show up get to start the game. He knew parents would choose to have their kids play rather than take them to church or spend the day with dad.

I suggested to the tournament official the tournament could start on Friday, but he said not enough people would come and buy concessions, thus hampering the tournament sponsor’s ability to make money.

Later I called a church pastor who said Sunday attendance is down when there are softball tournaments on the weekend, and he admitted there was little he could do about it.

As simple as this column may seem, I still had to contact sources to convey both sides of the issue.

Later I checked with a dad whose daughter had games out of town on Sundays. He said parents could find time to go to church between games and on the way to the tournament.

I finally decided I had enough information to write the column, promoting the idea of starting Little League games after noon on Sundays, realizing that Sunday tournament games were here to stay.

With my notes still warm, I began to write the first draft of the column. Not satisfied with the flow of the words, I wrote a second draft and submitted it to ECM’s news director.

He returned it with more questions, which I tried to answer in rewriting the column a third time.

Once the news director approved the column, it went to a copy editor, who checked for errors, style and any further clarification of sources. Now more than ever, editors want to know the sources for facts.

Finally, the column was sent to an executive editor who distributed it to community editors, who had the option to either localize it or not publish it.

This is just a glimpse of what goes on in newsrooms throughout the country. Our goal is providing readers with information that is useful but also credible.

Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers, a division of APG.



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