By Nick Patterson
From time to time at Weld: Birmingham’s Newspaper, we receive inquiries from people who would like to write for Weld. While we appreciate the interest, the fact is that not all queries can receive a timely and detailed reply. The following may answer some of the most common questions and help those interested in proceeding.
1.Are you a journalist, or do you have journalism training?
Many people who want to write for Weld have no journalism training. Because we’re interested in promoting good journalism for the benefit of the community, we prefer to hire people who understand what’s involved and what’s at stake in reporting the news.
If you have journalism training, the first step is to send your resume and a link to your clippings to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a brief cover letter explaining your qualifications and what you’d like to do for Weld. If we’re interested, we’ll follow up with you.
2.Are you a student looking for an internship?
If you are a student in college, the chances are that your journalism program has an internship component. Your first step is to get in touch with whoever is in charge of the journalism internship program and find out what is required. After that, follow their instructions, or see point 1 above. However, we will expect interns to comply with the rules, regulations, and expectations of the institution where you are enrolled.
What if you’re not connected with the journalism program at your school? In that case, the first step is to seek out whoever is in charge of that program and find out what’s required. This is especially true for English majors interested in learning journalism in connection to Weld.
What if you don’t want to take the classes, but just want to jump into journalism? The first step is to try to get in to your student newspaper. Once you’ve been edited sufficiently by someone else and have the work to prove it, you may qualify for an exception (see below).
What if you’re in high school? The first step is to convince your teacher of your interest and then to get him or her to write us at email@example.com to convince us that giving you a shot would be a good thing for both you and this community newspaper.
3.Are you a non-journalist only interested in sharing your opinion through Weld?
Non-journalists can contribute to Weld’s regular op-ed column, Perspectives, or our occasional narrative story feature, Storyboard. We will generally only consider content that is unique to Weld in this market.
The first step is to write what you want to say, making sure that it clearly sets out the point you want to make. For Perspectives, write no less than 650 words and no more than 1100 words. For Storyboard, write what you think it’s worth. In both cases, be advised that anything we choose to publish is subject to editing, a submission does not guarantee acceptance or publication, and that Weld does not pay non-journalists for Perspectives or Storyboard submissions.
4. Do you fall into an exceptional category?
What if you graduated with an English degree and never took any journalism classes, but just really want to practice journalism with Weld? What if you’re a student or a graduate or a member of the community who for some reason is suddenly fired up and inspired to create journalism or make journalism a career, but you don’t fall into one of the categories above?
You may wish to attempt a rogue act of journalism by going to, and covering a public meeting — the neighborhood association meeting in your community, the school board, the city council, etc, and then writing up a report of no more than 1,000 words, which conforms to the rules of good journalism (which you need to figure out first), and submitting it as a tryout. Any tryout will require that you submit contact information for the sources in the story, to allow us — if we choose to pursue it — to verify your attempt at reporting.
There is no guarantee that we will publish a tryout and in any case you will not be paid. Tryouts are unsolicited, and will be addressed as time permits. After that, if your tryout is good enough, we will let you know what we think.
Any tryout needs to be accompanied with a cover letter from you explaining who you are, what you covered and when, and why you think we should give you a shot. Do not submit an unsolicited tryout (or any other piece intended to be treated as journalism) without a cover letter.
5. What if you know somebody associated with Weld?
Your first step is to see points 1-4 above. Journalism is a serious professional public service, not to be undertaken lightly, no matter who you know. Weld publishes, for the most part, journalism. We have limited use for creative writing, poetry or standard prose, and practically no use for outright fiction. We will not publish advertisements or other strictly promotional material as editorial content. Advertising considerations do not determine editorial content.