Share a Story

How to submit your story

Send your articles or queries to info@nbmediacoop.org.

We have provided the resources to help you write a story for the NB Media Co-op below. Click on a topic to jump to its place on the page.

1.       How to write your story for the NB Media Co-op!
2.       What does the NB Media Co-op look for in a story?
3.       The process of publishing a story with the NB Media Co-op
4.       How will the NB Media Co-op editors help?
5.       How to format an article for submission
6.       News or opinion?
7.       Choosing a news story
8.       News stories: focus

9.       News stories: types
10.     Storytelling elements
11.     Interviewing tips
12.     Writing your news story
13.     Notes on attribution
14.     Notes on libel
15.     Photographs

1. How to write your story for the NB Media Co-op!

We welcome stories from everyone—first-time writers to established journalists. We encourage front-line activists and anyone with a story they want to share to submit their stories. At the NB Media Co-op, our stories are our organization’s lifeblood. Our volunteer reporters share information that keeps our readers—the people of New Brunswick—informed about goings-on in our province and the wider world through a social justice and grassroots lens. This page describes what we look for in a story, the format of an NB Media Co-op story, and the role of our editors who will help prepare your story for publication.

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2. What does the NB Media Co-op look for in a story?

The NB Media Co-op publishes investigative features, opinion pieces and letters to the editor, interviews, reviews of books, films and art, photo essays, videos, audio and event notices. Our wide range of topics and themes includes Indigenous sovereignty, labour, LGBTQ, environment, health, women’s rights, students, rural social justice, anti-poverty, politics, social movements, protests, the economy, and arts and culture. Typically, we look for stories not covered in the mainstream media (i.e. Brunswick News, CBC, CTV, Associated Press, etc.), or stories with an alternative perspective not presented in the mainstream media.

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3. The process of publishing a story with the NB Media Co-op

  • Contact the NB Media Co-op to let us know that you want to write an article on your topic of choice, and get the go-ahead from an editor.
  • See what the NBMC has written about this topic in the past—search our site using different keywords. When you find relevant articles, use them as background information.
  • Check out what other journalists have written about this.
  • If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to your editor for answers.
  • Conduct interviews and be sure to identify yourself as a NBMC reporter. Write the story. Select possible photos or images for the story.
  • Include previous NBMC articles in the new article: hyperlink the previous article in the Word text. If you want to hyperlink other news media articles, choose independent media that is open (not behind a paywall); the list is on the NBMC website and can also include The Guardian (U.K.), for example.
  • To learn more about attribution, read Steve Buttry’s website and our notes below.
  • Email the story and photo to your editor and engage in feedback.
  • When the story is published, check for errors and contact your editor immediately if you see anything.

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4. How will the NB Media Co-op editors help?

Every story submitted to the NB Media Co-op will be assigned to an editor. That editor will work with the writer until the story is ready to be published. Depending on the need, an editor will do a simple copy edit to polish a story, conduct fact-checking, or work with the writer through several rounds of editing to ensure that all the information required is included. One of our editors will collaboratively edit your article with you until all parties are happy with the final product. The NB Media Co-op Editorial Board is elected every year at our AGM. The main role of the editorial board members is to help prepare a story for publication.

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5. How to format an article for submission

Our submissions follow a standard format which makes it easier for our editors to process submissions, provide constructive feedback, and push your story through to publication. Before sending it in, make sure it follows this format:

  • A short headline that draws the attention of readers. A headline should contain an action verb. Only the first letter of the first word should be capitalized.
  • Story text between 800 and 1,200 words, maximum 1,500 words.
  • Size 12 Times New Roman font, left justified, single space, no space between lines, blank line between paragraphs, no tabs or indents.
  • Use hyperlinks to attribute information to their primary sources. Hyperlink the source article in the Word document. Feel free to hyperlink previous NBMC articles, and if you want to hyperlink other news media articles, choose independent media that is open (not behind a paywall).
  • All stories must include an attached good-quality feature photo or image that you have taken yourself or have permission to use, in a horizontal aspect (like a postcard). The story must include the photo caption and the name of the photographer.
  • A one-line bio about yourself at the end.

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6. News or opinion?

The NB Media Co-op will accept two kinds of articles: news and opinion. Opinion articles may be published by NB Media Co-op if approved by three NBMC editors. Some do not make it through this process. News articles are generally reviewed by two editors and are published when they meet NBMC’s standards.

News: The writer reports the news. People’s opinions may appear as part of that reporting (“According to deputy mayor Rogers…”), but the writer does not explicitly present their own views. The writer’s use of flowery or opinionated adjectives and adverbs (terrific, wonderful, horrible, disastrous) is generally limited unless the story clearly warrants it.

Opinion: The writer shares their own views and explicitly seeks to persuade readers to adopt those views as their own. This can include the flowery or opinionated adjectives and adverbs mentioned above. (“The demonstration was fantastic because so many people showed up.”)

Interviews can be either news or opinion. They need to follow the general NBMC guidelines. See the section on libel for information on opinion articles or news interviews, where a source says something potentially damaging about a person or an organization.

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7. Choosing a news story

Choose a story that interests you and that you are reasonably familiar with (or are willing to research).

Try hard to avoid conflict of interest, either real or perceived. If you do choose to write on a topic of direct relevance to you, we ask that you reveal that conflict of interest either in the text or in a short bio at the end of the story. For example: If Sandra is writing a story about an environmental organization they used to work for, they would write, “Sandra is former director of the Enviro-Action Team” at the end of their piece.

When you begin looking into a story idea, do as much research as you can. Much of this information will not be included in the story, but it will help provide context for your writing.

When choosing a focus for your story, it might be helpful to ask:

  • Who is most affected by this policy/event?
  • What is new about this story?
  • What voices or angles have been misrepresented or not represented in other media coverage of this issue?

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8. New stories: focus​

  • Stories are based in, or primarily affect, New Brunswick.
  • Stories focus on the grassroots, and stories that emphasize the interests of those most affected by policies and events, rather than those with the most power and influence. For example, a story about a homeless shelter closing down should focus on how the closure affects those living on the streets. This can be done by interviewing people who use the shelter system, as well as (though less ideally) their advocates. Those responsible for the closure should also be interviewed to explain the reasoning behind the decision, but they should not be the story’s primary source.
  • Stories are fair, transparent and accurate.
  • A note on bias in reporting. Journalists and their media outlets make choices about which stories to pursue, which questions to ask, which quotes to include and which to exclude. Each of these choices reflects a bias. With this in mind, we ask writers to be fair, transparent, and honest, rather than make questionable claims of objectivity.

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9. News stories: types

Although investigative features are always encouraged, many other formats are also acceptable for the site:

  • Interviews. Know of a particularly interesting/inspiring/intriguing/controversial  character  in New Brunswick? Line up an interview, record the conversation, and transcribe all or part of it.
  • Event reports. Planning to attend an event/protest/speech/art opening? Take a few pictures, interview a few participants and an organizer, and write up a short summary.
  • Photo essays. Photos can be of a single event or an ongoing story, and visuals should be key to telling the story. Ideally, photo essays should include a short explanatory paragraph, and captions should be used when necessary.
  • Video or audio reports. If you have your own equipment to record a story and edit it into a short news piece or doc, please we encourage you to submit it.

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10. Storytelling elements

Every news story should have as many of the following elements as possible:

  • Information that is interesting and relevant to readers, viewers or listeners. This includes the use of background information (such as facts and figures) that will put the story in its proper context and give it the depth the audience needs to make informed judgments.
  • People who are knowledgeable and interesting and who say things to the audience in direct quotes or clips.
  • Action. Something significant, interesting or new is happening or has happened. Action can include conflict, struggle and controversy.
  • Emotion.
  • Description that appeals to the senses of readers, viewers or listeners.
  • Anecdotes and/or examples.
  • Suspense and/or dramatic irony. Your story can contain something suspenseful but should not be written in a dramatic fashion.
  • Humour. Your story can contain something humourous but should not be written in a humourous fashion.

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11. Interviewing tips

Decide who to interview.

Possible subjects include Protagonists, people most affected by the issue or event; and Advocates, including but not limited to:

  • People personally connected to those affected, who speak on their behalf or about their situation (e.g., a family member or legal counsel).
  • People who work with organizations or social movements that serve or represent those most affected and provide social context to the topic.
  • Independent Analysts. People knowledgeable about the topic whose interests are mainly focused on study, not direct interaction or assistance to the protagonists (e.g., researchers at universities and think-tanks)
  • Institutional Actors. People who represent the institutions responsible for the policies, situations and/or events that are the focus of the story (e.g. government officials).
  • These are people who attend an event such as a rally or art opening.


Identify as an NBMC reporter when conducting interviews

NBMC writers always need to ID themselves as such when writing a story for the publication. This is particularly important because many NBMC writers are also activists, and the people they meet when covering a story might not realize they are working as a reporter.

Whenever writers speak with a source for a story, it is vital they ID themselves as a reporter and make it clear that they expect the source is speaking on the record.


Conduct the interview:

Prepare!

  • Learn as much as possible about the person you will be interviewing before you speak with them.
  • Prepare a list of questions to guide you.
  • Keep an open mind. Do not approach an interview with an agenda (other than getting the story).
  • Understand where they info comes from. Ask your sources to back up claims they make.
  • Ask for specific details. Make sure you get all the names, dates, etc. that you need.
  • Anything to add? Ask your interviewee this question before you close an interview. You will often get important information that you might otherwise have missed.

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12. Writing your news story

The best way to become a good news writer is to read good news writing. When you read a news story you like, save it and analyze how the writer put it together.

Keep important information towards the top of the article. The classic way of writing a news story was to have the who, what, when, where and why (W5) in the first paragraph. This classic way is not usually the best way to draw a reader into the story. Instead, find a more creative way to catch the reader’s attention.

Most articles will include a nutgraph, a paragraph that includes a basic outline of the topics to be discussed in the article. If the nutgraph is not the first paragraph (the lead or lede), it should be as close to the top as possible. The nutgraph is crucial for letting readers know what they can expect out of your article.

Elements of the story should flow together. Each paragraph should transition smoothly into the next by drawing connections between ideas and events.

Do not editorialize in a news story. Commentary/opinion should be other people’s, not your own. If you want to write your opinion, write an opinion article, see earlier in this document.

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13. Notes on attribution

Attribution is the action of ascribing a statement or work to a particular person, source, organization.

These notes have been borrowed from Steve Buttry’s website.

Attribution gives stories credibility and perspective. It tells readers how we know what we know.

It also slows stories down. Effective use of attribution is a matter both of journalism ethics and of strong writing.

Write with authority. Be sure, though, that your authority is genuine. You must know the facts you are reporting are indeed facts. Writing with authority must be based on personal observation and/or multiple, undisputed authoritative sources.

Attribution is a key ingredient in any story’s credibility. Readers are entitled to know where we got our information. Attribute when you are not certain of facts.

When should we attribute? Attribute any time that attribution strengthens the credibility of a story. Attribute statements of opinion. When you wonder whether you should attribute, you probably should attribute in some fashion. Attribute any time you are using someone else’s words. Attribute when you are reporting information gathered by other journalists.

When should we not attribute? You do not need to attribute every fact in a story. Do not worry about attributing facts where the source is obvious and not particularly important and the fact is not in dispute. Do not attribute facts that you observe first-hand.

Copy and paste carefully. Sloppiness is no excuse for plagiarism.

Be just as careful with your notes. When you are taking notes from documents or articles, be sure to take the time to note the sources clearly and prominently.

Do not just attribute, hyperlink. Linking is an essential part of attribution in online journalism. For example,

The Saudi arms deal, valued at CA$15 billion, is for weaponized military vehicles made in Canada called Light Armoured Vechicles (LAVs). The deal has made Canada the second-largest arms dealer in the Middle East and the sixth largest worldwide. Amnesty International has reported that on multiple occasions the Saudi government used Canadian-made LAVs in actions violating international and human rights law.

— Abram Lutes, “What is the link between Irving Oil, Saudi arms and the warm in Yemen?” (July 2019)

Attribute to press releases. The nature of the source has no bearing on whether you should attribute. You attribute for the reader, not for the source.

Attribution is not enough. Attribution does not absolve reporters from responsibility for the content of a story. Consider what documents, photographs, videos or other forms of records might confirm or contradict what you have been told. You need to check the truth of what you are told, not simply report that someone said it. If a source tells you something, ask the source how she knows that. Consider who might be able to confirm or refute that.

Attribution in leads. Attribution can weigh down a lead, adding words and distracting from the focus. Consider what the reader needs to know in the lead. Can you state the facts of the lead without attribution? Can the attribution wait until the second paragraph or later?

Attributing to unnamed sources. When you grant confidentiality to a source, work out an accurate reference that tells the reader why you would use this source.

Recycled quotes. If you did not hear the person say something, you should probably attribute the quote not only to the speaker but to the medium that reported it.

Background attribution. When you are pulling background information from historical sources, old clips of your paper or even your own personal clips, consider whether you need to attribute.

Attributing ideas. Imagine how you would feel if someone copied your idea. Give credit where credit is due, and when in doubt, consult with your editor.

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14. Notes on libel

Libel is the legal term that describes publishing false statements that would harm the reputation of a person. In a court of law, libel is established if the reporter and/or the publisher prints something false while knowing it is false. The NBMC will never knowingly publish false information. If the NBMC publishes something it learns later is false, it will retract it.

In general, the NBMC does not publish negative comments about specific people. If it is a politician or other public person and the story justifies publishing something negative about them, the statements will be about their actions or words, not about their person.

If a source says something about a specific person, depending on the context, you will need to check with that person if they agree with what is being said about them. If what is being said can potentially damage that person’s reputation, it is important to have several other sources to back up that claim. If there are no other sources, either drop it from the story or check with that person to give them an opportunity to respond to what is being said about them.

If a source says something damaging about an organization, including a public body or NGO or private company, the story must contain evidence to back up the claim from another source and ideally from more than one other source. If there is no other source, it is important to give a spokesperson from the organization a chance to respond.

If the story is an opinion about an organization that is potentially damaging, then the person writing the opinion becomes an issue. Has this person done research on this organization and are they qualified to offer that opinion? These are the kinds of questions the NBMC editors consider when deciding whether or not to publish an opinion article.

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15. Photographs

We encourage writers to submit their own photos or to submit those they have permission to reuse. There are, however, a few places online where you can find photos of New Brunswick that can be used with no cost:

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