>Getting into the diocesan press

>In the midst of our ongoing family crisis—or let’s just say transformation—I taught at last week’s Catholic Writers Conference online. One of the chat leaders was Kyle Eller, editor of The Northern Cross, published by the Diocese of Duluth. One thing stuck out in what he had to say. Although everyone seems to want to write columns, what he really needs are stories about things happening around the diocese, particularly news that his staff can’t get to.

In my case, for example, the western Oregon diocesan paper, the Sentinel, comes out of Portland, but I live three hours away on the coast. If I got my act together, I could send in articles about the various activities happening here in Newport and up and down the Oregon Coast. For example, when new pastors arrive, a church hosts a special mission, or dedicates a new sanctuary, that is all fodder for stories. In today’s economic situation, we could write about how it’s affecting various parishes and how they’re coping—or projects they’ve begun to help people in their area. Yesterday, our church hosted its annual tea party to raise funds for unwed mothers. It was quite an elaborate affair. A photo and short ditty on that could well find a place in the Sentinel, as could a story on the annual garden tour held to raise funds for the Samaritan House homeless shelter.

If you’re determined to do a column, Eller advises finding a niche that isn’t already overloaded with writers, including writers who are happy to do it for free. Google the Catholic Press Association for a list of diocesan papers and start sending out sample columns. But it’s that local coverage that is most likely to get you in. Those local stories could also lead to publication in the Catholic News Service syndicate. Editors there have told me they prefer writers who have established track records at their parish or diocesan papers.

Eller’s suggestions apply just as well to any religious newspaper, not just Catholic, and in fact to secular papers as well. Do a good job covering something they’re not getting to, and you’re in.

Thank you, everyone for your good wishes and prayers while I’ve been off the blog. My husband has Alzheimer’s Disease. He fell on Jan. 22, hurt his back, went to the hospital for a couple days and from there to a rehab facility/nursing home, where it was determined he really can’t come home. His disease is so advanced he needs 24-hour care. Even though his back is healing well, his cognitive abilities are too far gone. So after two torturous weeks hanging out at Newport Rehab, I drove him this morning through a heavy snowfall to the Graceland Care Home in the hills above Newport, where I hope he will be comfortable and well cared for. I’ll be visiting him most days, in addition to handling the endless pills and paperwork, but I should be able to block off time for writing again, which is an amazing gift.

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