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Get involved with your local newspaper - here's how

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By Walt Reichert

Not long ago, we had a guy call with a complaint about something he wanted to get in (or kept out, I can't remember which) the newspaper. That happens often, but the reason he cited for his demand was a little unusual: "I pay taxes too," he said.

Well, I hope it's not news to too many that the Sentinel-News is not tax supported; we are a private business. Having said that, we consider ourselves a public service and our business is information. We want as much community information as we can stuff between our pages. We want as many people in the paper - in the good places - as we can get.

As editor, it has been my goal to increase public participation in the newspaper. In the last two years we have added more than a dozen columnists. Some, like Joan Brown, Horace Brown, and Jim Daniel write about "The Great Outdoors." Gen. Ronald Van Stockum's columns on history and World War II are fascinating. We have three community columnists- Kay Yount, Michelle Bray and Yvette Abild. We have added a golf columnist, a fitness columnist, several investment columnists and others.

Still, we want more, more people involved. Here's what we're looking for:

We want your stories. When you see news, call us. We are especially looking for those "good news" stories that are out there but often more difficult to find than the "bad news." Don't say to yourself "Oh, they won't be interested in that." Call or email us and let us decide if it's newsworthy or not.

We want your pictures. We can't be everywhere and cover everything, but we can still get the event in the paper if you send us pictures. Pictures should be clear and in focus with individuals identified from left to right unless it is a very large number of people. If you can send us photos digitally, they will reproduce best. And be patient with us. Sometimes it takes a while to get pictures in because of space limitations.

We want your columns. We are still looking for columnists to write about some of the surrounding communities. We have Bagdad, Simpsonville and Waddy covered, but would like to add Mt. Eden, Finchville, Cropper, Martinsville and we could use two or three to cover the city of Shelbyville. Call our community writer, Bobbie Lanham, if you're up to the challenge.

We want your letters. We value your opinion and will print your letter as long as it is not profane or does not libel anyone. We do require your name, address and phone number for verification and will not print anonymous letters. We try to put publish the letters in the order they arrive, but that can sometimes be difficult if the letters are especially long. Keep your thoughts to 400 words or less; letters longer than 800 words or so will be cut or rejected. Remember, you can always write again later.

If you live in a large city, getting in the newspaper is a rare event, unless you are a public official - or a murderer. But around here we believe that everyone has a story, and we want you to make the paper several times, that is, before you grace the obituary page.