W9 Inquiry: Reviewing a newsletter

I love a good newsletter. Whenever I need to wait in a waiting room, I always look to see if the organisation has a newsletter. I believe it provides an interesting insight into what the organisation feels is important, newsworthy and the types of events they like to celebrate.

what-a-croc-.jpg
Image: What a Croc (2016). Source: Booktopia.

When reading through week’s activity, I was  excited about the task at hand. Who doesn’t love a good crocodile story? The NT News certainly does. So I followed the link provided to the Crocodile Specialist Group’s website (2016) and located the latest Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter.

I undertook the following analysis:

What kinds of stories are in the newsletter?

The newsletter commences with information about how one can subscribe to the publication and the level of sponsorships available for people to donate. The stories start with an editorial that opens with some sad news of a member then moves through to good news and recent industry updates.  The editorial is followed by information about an assistance grant that is available and a crocodile attack that occurred in Iran. The minutes of the CSG Steering Committee are placed next filling seven of the 32 pages of the newsletter.  A recount of the 24th CSG Working meeting begins to provide  a personal feel to the newsletter as it includes photographs of members of this association. The regional reports come next and  provide interesting stories and photos of the work and achievements of members across the globe including Venezuela, Colombia, USA and Germany. The newsletter closes with recent industry publications that may be of interest to the newsletter’s audience.

How do these target the organisation’s audience?

A quick read through the sponsors and the section about sponsorships that highlights the ability to pay in US dollars indicates that this newsletter has a world-wide readership.

This publication is designed specifically for those with a keen interest in Crocodiles around the world. The majority of readers are most likely members of the CSG.

From the language used through-out the newsletter and the large section dedicated to recent industry publications, it can be seen that this newsletter is targeting an academic and research audience in the crocodile field of science and environment.

If you were a science journalist, is there anything you may be interested in following up as a story, and why?

As a science journalist, newsworthy pieces of information can be found within this resource. I would be interested in following-up and potentially writing a story on the following:

  • The work being conducted by the three research assistant scheme recipients.
  • The crocodile attack in Iran.
  • The Australian human-crocodile conflict as described briefly in the meeting minutes.
  • Plan attendance at the next CSG Working Meeting to report on the event.

What do you think is effective or otherwise about this newsletter? 

As Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith (2012) explain, newsletters are defined by function. Essential elements of a newsletter include that it is an in-house publication with the purpose to present a message to a particular public. Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith (2012) also state that effective newsletters provide benefit to their readers and are written on topics of interest to their audience. This newsletter meets these basic functions.

This newsletter however could improve in many ways.

Articles should be kept to 300 to 500 words and utilise the traditional newswriting style of the 5W lead with short paragraphs  (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012). This newsletter does not achieve either of these recommendations and is written in more an academic writing style.

Whitaker, Ramsey and Smith (2012)  recommend trying to select quotes and references that maintain credibility with the readership. This article does not use any quotes at all. This is because it utilises more of an academic writing style rather than a newswriting style.

When writing a newsletter, one must ensure the newsletter is the most appropriate means of communicating the information within (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012). Often meeting minutes are distributed as stand-alone documents. Considering the length of the minutes and the valuable space that they take up, the organisation may wish to consider removing them from the newsletter and publishing them on their website as their own link. Reference to the meeting occurring could be made briefly in the newsletter and a short paragraph on where readers can find the minutes could be included as a substitute.

Ames (2016) explains that colour can be effective at evoking emotion while font can assist with providing a level of formality and readability to a newsletter. The newsletter does not use any colour and the times new roman font gives the newsletter a formal appearance.

References

Ames, K 2016, COMM11007: Media Writing: study guide, CQUniversity, CQUniversity e-courses, http://moodle.cqu.edu.au/

Booktopia 2016, ‘What a Croc!’, Books, viewed 24 September, http://www.booktopia.com.au/what-a-croc–nt-news/prod9780733633522.html

Crocodile Specialist Group 2016,  Crocodile Specialist Group Newsletter: Volume 35, No. 2, April 2016 – June 2016, viewed 19 September 2016, http://www.iucncsg.org/365_docs/attachments/protarea/2225360a9ab69d58b6f72c37efe77ac6.pdf

Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, Media writing: print, broadcast, and public relations, Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, London.

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Author: Hil Sinfield

Business and professional communication specialist.

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