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How to submit a Top of the Morning column

Spring is in full swing and lots of events are going on in the community — golf tournaments, cookouts, fundraisers and more.

Many people have found a good way to get the word out about their events is to place a Top of the Morning column on the Opinion Page.

I’ll take this opportunity, however, to remind people of the proper procedures for placing a Top of the Morning column to ensure you will have the best chance to get your information out to the public by your desired publication date.

Please don’t wait until the last minute to submit your Top of the Morning piece.

If you do, chances are it will not make it into print before the event because people schedule Top of the Mornings well in advance and space may not be available if you wait until the last minute.

If you make arrangements in advance, we can work together to find a suitable alternate date if your preferred publication date is already spoken for.

The best way to ensure your Top of the Morning gets into print by your desired publication date is to give me a call at 601-445-3540 a week or two in advance to discuss your desired publication date.

Of course, you can email us at letters@natchezdemocrat.com, but sometimes, blind emails get lost in the flood of incoming emails. That’s why I always encourage people to call me after they have sent an email to bring it to my attention if they have not received an email reply saying I have received it.

If I’m away from my desk when you call, leave me a brief message telling me you’ve emailed me and leave a telephone number where I can reach you in case I did not receive the email.

Once you have let me know about your Top of the Morning and your desired publication date, I can check the calendar to see what dates are available and schedule your piece for the desired date or as close to your desired publication date as possible.

Then, you must submit the Top of the Morning column no later than noon two days prior to the publication date if you are submitting via email and three days prior if you are bringing in or snail mailing a hard copy so it can be prepared for publication. Please provide a contact telephone number for verification purposes and also, please observe our word limits. Top of the Morning columns should be between 500 and 700 words in length.

I can work with you if it is a little bit over or under but not if it is more than 100 words over or under.

If your Top of the Morning column is fewer than 500 words, it might best be suited as a Letter to the Editor, which should be between 300 and 500 words and does not require a head and shoulders picture of the author as do Top of the Morning pieces.

Speaking of head and shoulder pictures of the author, we do require head and shoulder pictures of the author to be published with each Top of the Morning piece.

You are encouraged to provide a picture for publication, which is best if emailed in a jpeg format. If you do not have a digital picture you can provide you can bring a hard copy to the office, and we will scan it in to the computer system or we can make a picture of you at the office if you schedule an appointment.

We also need a line at the end of the Top of the Morning piece telling who the author is and what their connection is to the event or cause they are promoting.

Top of the Mornings, are not limited just to promoting events. We welcome Top of the Morning columns on topics of interest to the local community. Keep in mind, however, that we do reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and content or to reject pieces altogether.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com

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