Multiple hats worn in new job

September 05, 2009|By TIM SHEA

Change can be a good thing.

I've learned that over the years as my duties as an editor have changed at The Herald-Mail.

Several weeks ago, my duties changed again as part of the restructuring of the copy desk here.

With this change came a new job title (assistant city editor) and a pile of responsibilities.

To sum it up, I am responsible for The Herald-Mail's Opinion and Money pages. I also plan coverage of Saturday events for the Sunday paper, which is our biggest paper of the week. I also will be coordinating the publication of several special sections that are published each year, including Making a Difference, Hometown Guide and the back-to-school section.

Here is a breakdown of what goes into each of my duties:

o Opinion -- The Herald-Mail has an Opinion page every day and two Opinion pages on Sunday.

I need to make sure we have columns from our syndicated columnists (David Limbaugh, Kathleen Parker, Leonard Pitts and Charles Krauthammer). One of these syndicated columns runs each day. I also need to make sure we have columns from several local contributors and run Herald-Mail editorials as they are written.


The biggest part of the job is letters to the editor. Most of these come in through e-mail, while others are faxed to us. Letters also are sent to us through regular mail.

For those who prefer to send their letters via computer, the e-mail address is For faxed letters, our newsroom fax number is 301-714-0245.

If you would rather send letters the old-fashioned way, address them to Letters to the Editor, The Herald-Mail, 100 Summit Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

All letters sent to us must include your name, hometown and daytime phone number.

Once we get letters, my biggest job is sorting through them all and working with letter writers to get them ready to be published. With an ever-increasing volume of letters, not all of them will make it into print. We will print as many letters as we can.

o Money -- The Herald-Mail's Money pages run on Sunday.

There are several different items that run on the Money pages, including the New Business Spotlight. This item features new businesses that have opened recently in the Tri-State area. If you have opened a new business, I can send out a question-and-answer form. Once the form is returned, I will make a photo assignment and a photographer will come out to your business.

We also run business people items, business briefs and a weekly business calendar. You can send your items by e-mail to or they can be faxed to the number listed earlier. They also can be sent by regular mail by addressing them to The Herald-Mail at the address listed earlier.

o Saturday events -- I compile a list of festivals, fundraisers and other events that happen on Saturday. Editors decide during meetings earlier in the week which events will be covered. Some weeks, we can't get to all of the events, but we will get to the most important ones.

If your organization has an event on a Saturday that you would like to be covered, send an e-mail to or call me at 301-791-6097.

o Special sections -- I am responsible for several special sections each year.

The next special section is the Hometown Guide, which is a resource for living and working in Washington County. The Hometown Guide will be published Sunday, Oct. 25.

Got all that?

To sum it up, in the ever-changing world of the newspaper industry, the focus at The Herald-Mail is on local news. If you have any issues or concerns regarding the Opinion and Money pages, Saturday event coverage or special sections, give me a call at 301-791-6097 or send an e-mail to

Tim Shea is an assistant city editor at The Herald-Mail.

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