Tips from the Pros: Not the Newspaper of Record, from D.G. Fulford

We used to have a saying when I first worked for a newspaper, an alternative weekly in Pasadena, California. “We are not the newspaper of record,” we’d say. There was a daily paper in town that carried that responsibility. This freed us up to write more quirky and colorful stories.

You are not the newspaper of record, either. Remember that. It is not your duty to recreate World War II on the page, or sum up the Great Depression.  What your readers want to know, the story only you can tell, is what you felt in those days, what you saw, and how you were affected.

Are you particularly careful with your money because of your family’s experiences in the 1929 stock market crash? Do your children or your children’s children agree with you about the value of a dollar? Do they buy designer clothes when you think store brand would do? Do you have military clothing stashed away?  Is it your father’s, your brother’s, your sister’s, or your own? When you get together to tell war stories, what stories do you tell?

Do not feel that you must recount the history of the world. If you put down your own experiences, you are adding your individual voice to humanity’s ambitious goal of getting the story told.

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