EDITORIAL: Can you write?

SOME OF OUR READERS have noticed our announcement published last month that there is now a charitable fund in place where they, or anyone else, can contribute to The Columbia Paper and claim the donation as a tax deductible gift. Wait. Don’t turn the page quite yet. This might interest you even if you have no money to donate.

This newspaper remains a private, independent corporation that publishes local news in print and online. And now we are partnering with Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) on this new charitable fund, The Columbia Paper Journalism Fund. The partnering aspect means that with money from the fund we’ll expand and deepen our local coverage of stories on five subjects of interest to Columbia County residents: education, economic development, the arts/culture, the environment and healthcare.

Those topics are only part of what we consider local news, and we’ll continue to cover all sorts of stories from throughout this county. But this journalism fund presents us with a number of new challenges, not least of which is figuring out whether it’s possible that more money means more news.

Want to help? One way some of you do that is by joining this initiative.

We’re a shoestring operation and likely to remain that way—everyone here is a contractor and we pay based on a per-story fee. But journalistically we’ve won recognition and respect for the stories we write about this special place. So with the revenue from advertising plus the weekly paper sales and subscriptions, the Columbia Paper Journalism Fund can help us fund the time and effort it takes to produce accurate, fair, entertaining and provocative work.

Enough generalities. We’re up against a tight job market. As the pandemic grinds on, our commitment to full Covid-19 vaccination (three jabs) and wearing a mask reduces the applicant pool even further. But from who’s available and vaccinated, we’re seeking a few talented people with some computer skills and writing experience.

We have an office in Ghent but we don’t support a regular newsroom. Work from home (or wherever the story is happening). That’s the rule, not the exception. You’ll also need access to a reliable internet connection and a functioning laptop. Access to transportation at least some of the time is a plus. But the decision on whether to show up at events indoors is determined on a case-by-case basis. Your health and the safety of those around you are the top considerations.

Everybody makes mistakes. We can work with you to avoid a lot of them. Attention to detail is essential. If you don’t believe the small things matter, you won’t like reporting the news. Deadlines matter too. With certain exceptions (don’t ask), there are no do-overs if you miss one.

On the other hand, if you want to learn how to communicate with other humans, this position can help you develop those skills. People will respect you for telling the truth in a fair manner. Readers who know you and those who don’t will turn to you for information they need to know. And people will tell you, without any prompting, “I love your newspaper.” They will mean it.

If this intrigues you, email and include a resume and a writing sample in the body of the email. No attachments, please. If you don’t have a published piece of non-fiction, then write and submit a brief (200 words) description of your neighborhood.

If you know someone who might be interested in this type of remote journalism, please send this to her or him.

If you want to know more about donating, click on the yellow “Donate” tab at the top right side of our website, www.columbiapaper.com or go right to the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation at berkshiretaconic.org/ColumbiaPaper

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