Getting more into the newspaper

The times they are a changing.

At least that’s the way it may seem to those sending items to The News and Sentinel for inclusion in the newspaper.

The News and Sentinel is striving to be more community news inclusive and having readers get more involved in the newspaper and getting more of their news items into publication.

For more years than anyone at the newspaper can remember, there have been distinct policies and guidelines on what materials would be accepted for publication and what ones might be edited down to include information but not a submitted photograph.

As an example, submitted check presentation photos were avoided unless they were for a substantial amount of money, usually in the five-figure range. The submitted information would be used, but not the photo.

That has changed.

While we still will use editorial discretion as to what is published, check presentation photos will now not be summarily disregarded without thought, but rather will be accepted and published based on content, space availability and the future creation of a neighbor-type page in the Sunday edition.

Letters to the editor were another area that had some long-standing guidelines as to so-called “back-and-forth” letters between writers, no more than one letter per writer a month and no thank-you letters.

We’ve taken a hard look at the guidelines and while we remain firm in wanting the letters to be written to the editor (not a third party) not to exceed 400 words and contain the name, address and telephone number of the writer (for verification purposes), we will accept non-commercial thank-you letters, more than one letter a month per writer and well-reasoned “back and forth” letters between writers.

Another area of the newspaper that has had policies that might have eliminated content to the chagrin of readers was wedding, births, anniversary photo usage. For many years, The News and Sentinel has only published full wedding, birth and anniversary stories and photos if the special event was received within six months of the submittal, which was far more lenient a time period than most newspapers in the Tri-State Area.

The policy has been changed. We will publish wedding, birth, anniversary and engagement photos without regard to how long it has been between the time of the celebrated event and the newspaper’s receipt of the photo and information, but birthdays and anniversaries will continue to be published at five-year increments.

Maybe one of the biggest changes has not been in the newspaper itself, but rather on our website at, which earlier this week stopped permitting anonymous comments on all but poll questions. Instead of permitting the comments, we are encourage those wanting to make comments to write letters to the editor, which will be seen by both our online readers and our newspaper readers, thus expanding the viewing and reading audience for the comments.

Again, the reason for the changes are to make the newspaper’s content more available to the public and not have artificial barriers that do not necessarily serve the public.

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Exactly a month after having quadruple bypass surgery, a heart valve replacement and a pacemaker inserted in my chest, I returned to work last Monday … and couldn’t be happier to both being alive and being back to what I love.

While the week-long hospital stay and two surgeries are not something I want to repeat anytime soon, overall it wasn’t nearly as bad as I initially feared, except for having that blasted ventilator down my throat.

The treatment I received at the St. Joseph’s Campus of Camden Clark Medical Center by the nursing staff in the cardiac care intensive care unit was superb, just as was the cardiologist who identified my heart-related problems and the surgeon who repaired me. I couldn’t be more pleased with any of them if I tried!

For a month, I was on the outside of the newsroom looking in, which hasn’t been the case for me in more than 40 years … and I didn’t like it, but I certainly did appreciate the efforts of the newsroom staff for superbly handling things while I was gone – they are a great group!

Contact Jim Smith at